Northern Nevada Regional Semi-Final
The Spanish Springs Cougars played host to the Bishop Manogue Miners in a game that will surely be considered an instant classic!
The Cougars all season have been about their star players, whether that be the dual-threat of Tristan Szabo, the all-around professional in Jackson LaDuke, or players like Mason Bebout, Parker Luthy, Lucas Christie, and many more.
The Miners have some stars of their own like Drew Scolari, Zeke Lee, Vai Kaho, Colby Crisp, the list goes on and on. The difference between the Miners and the Cougars was Bishop Manogue had a target on their back from last season.
This game was filled with all of those players and started with a very uncharacteristic Spanish Springs three and out an opening drive in which the Miners got the ball back and got a one-yard Zeke Lee touchdown run to give Bishop Manogue a 7-0 lead.
Following the Miners hot start on offense, the defense came to play early, forcing two straight drives where Spanish Springs punted the ball. The Miners continued giving the ball to Zeke Lee, and on the second drive of the game for Bishop Manogue, he fumbled the ball with Haden Bishop getting the recovery deep in Spanish Springs territory.
The Cougars had the ball and were looking to put together their first successful drive of the game, but deep in Miner territory down at the two-yard line the Cougars had the ball stripped after a terrific reception only to watch the ball go out of the back of the end zone for a touchback.
On the ensuing drive, it took Zeke Lee one play to take it to the house running 80 yards to give the Miners a two-touchdown lead over the Cougars.
Bishop Manogue took over with their defense receiving no rest on such a quick offensive drive but still pushed the envelope stopping Spanish Springs offense and forcing yet another punt.
At this point, Zeke Lee took the ball and capped off a 75-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown his third of the day, giving the Miners a 21 point lead.
If the Cougars ever could use a touchdown being down three scores, it sure seemed like it was do or die time for them to save their season, and that's exactly what they did. Tristan Szabo dashed into the end zone for a QB scramble and gave the crowd something they hadn't felt yet to that point… Hope!
Spanish Springs was optimistic now only trailing by only two scores and thought they were back. The Miners Colby Crisp was having none of it, and in the flash of 16 seconds off of the clock, he went 91 yards to return the kickoff for a touchdown extending the Miner lead to 28-7. Not only did he field a kick return for a touchdown, but the very next drive as the Cougars were driving Szabo threw a pass up for grabs, and Crisp intercepted it for at the Bishop Manogue nine-yard line.
Bishop Manogue's offense shifted into neutral on the next drive only to punt after the interception.
Spanish Springs crowd found confidence and hope growing rowdier with each play. Parker Luthy took matters into his own hands, and while he didn't have huge numbers, he capped this drive off with his first of two rushing touchdowns.
The Cougars had their swagger back and forced another three and out, getting the ball back being down late in the first half by only two touchdowns something had to give. Tristan Szabo found Lucas Christie for a 29-yard touchdown to bring the Cougars within a score.
The clock would shortly expire thereafter on the next drive with the score in favor of Bishop Manogue sitting at 28-21.
The Miners had let the Cougars back into a game where the scoreboard was much closer than the game actually felt they had to stop the bleeding somehow someway.
None, the less Bishop Manogue, received the ball to start the second half, and on two plays, Michael Schneider ran 65 yards for a score extending the lead to 35-21. Bishop Manogue gained momentum by forcing another short Spanish Springs drive and having Drew Scolari run a 55-yard QB keep for a touchdown on one play. Miners looked like they had the game in the bag at 42-21.
The Cougars Szabo was not having it slashing, dashing, and gashing the Miner defense, ultimately allowing his running back Parker Luthy an opportunity to get an 11-yard rushing touchdown. Spanish Springs defense stood tall on the drive after forcing a Miner punt.
This time Jackson LaDuke the Oregon commit showed his talents catching a five-yard touchdown from Szabo closing the gap for the Cougs bringing his team within a touchdown to tie.
Bishop Manogue had a star of their own Vai Kaho, and he showed just what kind of player he is fighting into the end zone for a three-yard rushing touchdown after his team went 87 yards to score.
At this point, if you're mentally exhausted, I understand I was watching, but like I said, an instant classic! The score is 49-35, with the boys from South Reno leading while the clock read 5:40.
Tristan Szabo showed why he is a team captain and threw a 20-yard touchdown, and with three minutes left, all Szabo needed was a chance at redemption. He got just that with Bishop Manogue's drive stalling out and having to punt the ball back to Spanish Springs.
Szabo had the ball at his own 33-yard line, having to go the distance to save his season. On four straight plays, he could not live up to the expectation and turned the ball over on downs for the first time in a game where we saw nearly everything else before that.
This game was one of the best I had seen in a while it had everything a massive fourth-down conversion, a great kick return for a touchdown, a big-time defensive stop, referee blunders, three yes I said three sideline warnings, this game was absolutely a thrill to watch.
There is something about the playoffs, but when you have a game like this in the playoffs, it's something you never forget, especially for the losing team. The sound of a crowd it truly is poetry whether it's when a parent exhales watching their sons last game, a coach cursing in the booth next door at the disappointment of a poor result from such hard effort, the sound of a girlfriend wondering what to say to their boyfriend to help heal the loss, or maybe a kid starting to cry knowing he will no longer be able to play the child's game with his brothers.
For the winning team, they look to the future where this is just another stepping stone in what is a journey unfulfilled to this point.
The Miners realized last week that if they wanted to repeat as Regional Champions they would have to go through the storied program of McQueen, the up and comers of Spanish Springs, and now will either face the Raiders, Coach Howren's former program or the Mustangs the team that has the most hate for the Miners after losing last season ending what should have been a dream season.
Michael Reeves | Chief Content Officer
Michael Reeves has covered Northern Nevada High School Sports since 2010. He is the Chief Content Officer for Battle Born Preps. Michael previously was the Chief Editor for Battle Born Preps.