It seemed whichever team had the ball last was going to win.
The McQueen football team blinked and Damonte Ranch capitalized, taking a 31-28 win Friday in the first round of the Division I North Region football playoffs at McQueen.
With the score tied at 28 after Jared Blake hauled in a 26-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Daugherty, and less than 7 minutes remaining, the Lancers coughed up the ball on their second play of the ensuing drive. Damonte’s Rory Anderson came up with it on the McQueen 28-yard line.
Robert Carmazzi then rambled up the middle 22 yards and, after three more plays, including a completion that was barely out of bounds, Grant Cooper went in to nail a 21-yard field goal that proved to be the game-winner.
“We just kept plugging away and trying to make things happen on defense, and we did a great job of getting some turnovers,” Damonte coach Shawn Dupris said. “When you get to the playoffs, you never know what’s going to happen.”
McQueen opened the game with a four-play scoring drive capped by Tony Satroplus’ 27-yard score. Damonte punted after its next possession fizzled after eight plays, but McQueen fumbled the punt and the Mustangs recovered on the Lancers’ 12-yard line.
Three plays later, Cooper caught a 12-yard pass from Daugherty for a score and a 7-7 tie.
Damonte took the lead midway through the third quarter on a gutsy call. Facing a fourth-and-goal inside the 1-yard line, the Mustangs went for it and Kyle Daugherty appeared to be stopped short of the goal, but he stuck the ball over the line for the score.
Damonte (7-3) rolled over McQueen (6-4) on Nov. 1, 56-12, but the Lancers were missing several key players in that game.
“It was crazy, that was nuts,” Daugherty said of Friday’s game. “It was a lot different than last week, for sure. We just capitalized on big plays. I felt they came out a little flat last week.”
McQueen answered Daugherty’s score with a six-play drive, highlighted by Neti Peni’s 48-yard ramble up the middle to the 1-yard line. Peni scored two plays later.
Facing a fourth-and-7 near midfield, Damonte tried a fake punt and was stopped well short.
Seven plays later, facing a fourth-and-3, McQueen’s Lucas Weber took the ball up the middle for the score and 28-21 McQueen lead.
Weber rushed for 232 yards and two scores on 28 carries in the losing effort.
“They picked up first downs when they had to pick up first downs, and we made some mistakes at crucial times offensively and defensively,” McQueen coach Jim Snelling said. “You can’t do that in a playoff game and expect to go on.”