“Call them the three headed monster,” said one of the Damonte Ranch Football Players after the trio of Ethan Kulpin, Ashton Hayes, and Nick Vargas combined for six touchdowns Saturday afternoon at Galena High School.
Hayes is the leading rusher in the state and the breakout player of the year for the Mustangs, Northern Nevada, and perhaps the state. Vargas has established himself as Kulpin’s favorite target; going into the Galena game Vargas had 25 catches and 5 touchdowns, both numbers increased at Galena Saturday. Kulpin has found a rhythm in the passing game with Vargas, Ian Williams, Ashton Hayes, Ethan Hamilton, and Ryan Mandichak while burning defenses with his legs. Defensive coordinators facing the Mustangs in the playoffs will struggle to slow down the Mustangs who can hand the ball off to the leading rusher in the State or watch Kulpin go over the top to Vargas; stopping Damonte’s “Three Headed Monster” will be no easy feat for opposing playoffs in the NIAA 4A playoffs this season. But before looking forward, let’s look back at what happened Saturday afternoon at Galena.
Saturday the Mustangs made the trip across the valley to take on the Galena Grizzlies, the annual “Battle for the Cross Saw” game. Give the Grizzlies credit, they came to play, fighting for a playoff spot and bragging rights. Both defenses found their footing early, with the Grizzlies winning the field position battle which led to an early 6-0 lead for Galena. The Mustangs responded with a touchdown, taking a 7-6 lead thanks to Ashton Hayes. Then Kulpin found Vargas for his first touchdown of the afternoon, and it was 14-9 going into halftime.
At halftime both schools had a student try kicking an extra-point for free Raising Cane’s for the year. Both were soccer players and had the distance, but neither could get the ball between the uprights.
The Mustangs came out fired up for the second half and the game had a completely different tone than the first half. Kulpin connected with Vargas for a 49-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter making the score 21-9. The Mustangs benefitted from an errant Grizzlies snap that went through the endzone, giving the Mustangs a safety, making the score 23-9. The Grizzlies kicked to the Mustangs who scored after a 45-yard Hayes run with a fumble at the goal line, which was recovered, in the endzone, by Kulpin, 30-9 Mustangs. The defense forced another punt and Kulpin found Vargas downfield, resulting in a 42-yard touchdown and 37-9 lead. Hopefully that catch will get some love from the local media, it was a great catch and showed a tremendous amount of focus by Vargas. Kulpin next found Ryan Mandichak, Mandy took it in for a 12-yard touchdown. The last touchdown came in the fourth quarter, a 35-yard touchdown run by Hayes which gave us the final score of 51-9.
The Mustangs piled up 408 total yards, 254 passing and 154 rushing. The defense held the Grizzlies to 124 total yards on the day, 130 through the air and negative six yards rushing. The negative six yards rushing is quite the accomplishment for the Mustangs “FAST & MEAN” defense.
Up Next – a rematch with the Reno Huskies. The Mustangs defeated the Huskies in September, 35-14. It was a running back duel with Hayes outpacing Dru Worthen, who came into the game leading the North in rushing, 222-36. The Mustangs defense asserted itself holding the Huskies to 120 yards of offense for the night. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM, it is an NIAA playoff game, students will be charged $5 for entry, adults $10, and get there early to get a good seat and don’t forget to dress in layers. The Damonte Ranch Marching Band will perform at halftime and we will recognize their graduating seniors.