Huskies turn back Tigers
It’s fourth-and-1 from your own 30 and you’re protecting a slim 27-24 lead with a little over five minutes left in the game. So, what do you call?
Reno High School coach Dan Avansino decided to go for the first down. What Nate Dolan delivered was a 70-yard touchdown run that helped the Huskies hold on for a 33-24 Sierra League championship-clinching victory against Douglas Thursday night.
The Huskies took an early 21-0 lead and then turned back a furious comeback by the Tigers in a shoot-out before about 500 fans on a cool night at Foster Field.
Reno improved to 5-0 in league (8-0 overall). Douglas slipped to 4-1 (6-2 overall) and had its six-game win streak snapped. Coach Mike Rippee was hardly disappointed with the effort put forth by the Tigers.
“I couldn’t be prouder of these kids. They poured their hearts out on this field. We still have some more football to play and we’ve got some other things to take care of,” said Rippee, whose Tigers end their regular season Friday at home against Carson.
Junior quarterback Luke Rippee passed for 213 yards (13-for-31) and three touchdowns. Andy McIntosh caught nine passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
One of Rippee’s throws was intercepted by Reno’s Josh Barrett for a 44-yard touchdown return that made it 21-0 with 8:37 left in the second quarter.
Douglas trailed 27-10 at halftime, but started the second half strong when Dan McDonald forced a fumble that Jake Peterson recovered at Reno’s 47 on the second play from scrimmage. McIntosh capped off a 12-play drive with a 6-yard touchdown reception from Rippee on fourth down.
Douglas came up with another big defensive stop early in the fourth quarter after Reno drove to the 22, aided by pass interference and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties back-to-back. The Huskies lost the ball on downs when a fourth down pass fell incomplete — largely due to a heavy pass rush from defensive end Stormy Herald.
McIntosh caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Rippee against double coverage in the end zone as the Tigers pulled to 27-24 with 8:23 left. The big play on the drive was a 34-yard hook-and-lateral play on which McIntosh caught a pass from Rippee and then pitched the ball to Dusty Cooper.
On the next series, Reno faced fourth-and-1 from the 30. Avansino decided to gamble and Dolan burst through an opening on the right side, broke two tackles and went all the way.
“I just felt that we had worked this hard, let’s earn this thing,” Avansino said. “I didn’t expect a 70-yard touchdown. I just wanted to give our boys to earn it.”
Dolan rushed for 166 yards and three TDs on 22 carries.
Reno only had the ball three times in the first half but scored touchdowns on each of those possessions, including a 9-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brady Dolan to Ryan McKinley with seven seconds left before halftime.
“We didn’t make any big adjustments at halftime,” Rippee said. “We just told the kids to get off the ball and play, and they did just that in the second half.”
After Barrett’s touchdown interception, the Tigers answered with a 12-play, 78-yard drive that ended when Craig Bell caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Rippee.
The ensuing kickoff by McIntosh, a sharp grounder that hit a Reno player, was recovered by Raymond Gabriel that led to a 25-yard Andy McIntosh field goal that cut the gap to 21-10.
“It wasn’t an onside kick,” Rippee said. “We were just trying to keep the ball away from Barrett because he can take it to the house anytime.”