Football: Douglas looks to break McQueen hex
One kind of gets the feeling the Douglas football team has just been looking for that one bounce allowing them to finally break through against perennial powerhouse McQueen these last few years.
Simply put, the Lancers have been nothing short of poison to the Tigers for decades and it’s easy to see why.
McQueen is the only program in the Northern 4A Douglas hasn’t been able to beat within the last three matchups and one of only three programs in the region (Reno and Reed are the others) that the Tigers don’t hold the series advantage against since the turn of the Millennium.
It’s been 23 years since the Tigers last beat McQueen (a 29-22 victory in 1987 at John Robb Stadium, now Ken Dalton Field in Reno).
Through 14 matchups between 1988 and 2005 the Lancers defeated the Tigers by an average of 33.7 points per game. Only two of those games were decided by less than 20 points and only one decided by less than 10 (six in 1988, to be specific).
But then things started to change. The Lancers developed into more of an Achilles heel for Douglas than a lethal poison.
Through the last four matchups between the teams, McQueen has won by a combined total of only 18 points. Three of those games, all decided on the final play, were decided by three points each.
In two of the four, Douglas fell victim to catastrophically (not to mention uncharacteristically) bad starts, including a six-turnover first half in Reno last September as the Lancers took a 21-0 lead into halftime.
The Tigers led 12-7 late in the 2006 playoffs in a thick fog in Minden, but the Lancers found a hole in a staunch Tiger run defense for a long touchdown and the lead. They tacked on a late score for insurance, pushing ahead for a 21-12 win.
In last year’s playoffs, a Douglas field goal attempt as time ran out with the teams tied at 17 sailed just wide. The Tigers got a field goal on their first possession of overtime and pushed the Lancers to fourth-and-goal at the one.
On the decisive play, McQueen’s Lucas Fejer was stopped up the middle, but he bounced out of the tackle, ran wide to his right and dove for the goal line, just reaching the ball across for the win.
The feeling in each game has been that Douglas has been only two or three plays from a solid win. But that’s football, and that’s why they play the game.
The Tigers get another shot tonight at McQueen with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m.
Douglas is coming in with the momentum, scoring a 49-20 breakthrough win over North Valleys last week. However, McQueen, which had cruised through its opening three games, got a wakeup call in a loss at Reed last week.
All signs point to a relatively even matchup. The two schools share two common opponents thus far, each beating North Valleys (McQueen won 54-19, Douglas won 49-20) and each losing to Reed (McQueen losing 28-7 and Douglas losing 25-14).
McQueen had a solid 12-7 win over California powerhouse Nevada Union to open the year and defeated Damonte Ranch convincingly, 54-6. Douglas’ only other game was a 31-30 loss to Manogue.
McQueen quarterback Christian Stolo has completed 57 percent of his passes for 472 yards and seven touchdowns while Nick Shepard is the team’s leading rushing at 54 carries, 465 yards and four touchdowns.
The Reno Gazette-Journal reported earlier this week that Shepard, who is also one of the team’s top defensive players, was taken away by an ambulance late in the Reed game due complications of a heart condition. McQueen coach Jim Snelling told the RGJ Wednesday that he hadn’t ruled out Shepard playing this week, but that he hasn’t practiced yet.
Senior Rollins Stallworth is also one of the top overall talents in the area, boasting four catches for 79 yards and three touchdowns offensively and two interceptions for 67 yards, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
For Douglas, senior Ryen Ake has emerged as a solid feature back in the past two weeks. He has 444 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 79 carries after managing just 35 yards against Reed. He also has 85 receiving yards on eight catches.
Sophomore Conner Peterson also had a breakout game last week, running for 106 yards on eight carries in a complimentary role to Ake.
The Tigers will have either senior Zack Williams, who missed the last two weeks with an foot injury, or junior Sam Cochran starting at quarterback. Cochran has completed 13 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown in Williams’ absence and run for 52 yards and an additional two scores.
The Douglas defense has also been strong, allowing only 3.75 yards per carry against the run and a 49.5 percent completion rate against the pass. They’re allowing 11.2 yards per completion and have forced seven takeaways.