Reno scored two touchdowns in the first six minutes of the first and third quarters. Those accounted for four of the five Huskies' touchdowns in a 34-20 road win at SSHS.
Spanish Springs trailed 27-14 and faced a fourth-and-4 at the Reno 19. The hosts were driving to stay in contention, but Reno iced the win when defensive back Justin Crow stepped in front of a pass from Cougars QB Hunter Fralick and returned an interception 36 yards. The turnover was the Cougars' second of the night and for all intents and purposes nixed any SSHS comeback hopes.
The interception was Fralick's first of the fall campaign and overshadowed a 19-of-24 passing performance (257 yards and 3 touchdowns), but one in which he was running for his life most of the night.
"We got beat up tonight," Spanish Springs coach Scott Hare said. "That's going to happen once in a while. I don't think it's indicative of who we are, but they beat us up."
Spanish Springs scored just before halftime to trim Reno's lead to 13-7, but it could not capitalize or build any momentum.
Reno came out of halftime and asserted itself in a big way. The Huskies returned the opening kickoff of the second half 47 yards and then got a 39-yard TD run from its signal caller Chad Savage. Reno had extended its edge to 20-7 just 19 seconds into the third quarter.
Things went from bad to worse for Spanish Springs when it ran three plays and punted on the next possession. The punt was partially blocked and went just nine yards. Reno started the drive at the Cougars' 34 and was in business once again. Savage hit Mike Lawton for a 5-yard TD reception with 7:38 showing on the third-quarter clock and Reno forged ahead by a game-high 20 points, 27-7.
"The two keys were the fast starts for us in both halves," Reno coach Dan Avansino said. "That gave us confidence and confused them. That was the difference. Outside of the quick starts in both halves, it was a really even game."
The Cougars never got closer than two scores the rest of the way. They did try to hang around. Spanish Springs used an 80-yard drive to get within 27-14 at the 4:13 mark of the third quarter. Ryder Lowry hauled in a pass from Fralick and made three Reno tacklers miss on his way to the end zone and a 17-yard TD reception.
Unfortunately for Spanish Springs fans, that's as good as it got.
Reno added a late touchdown on a 12-yard Savage TD run with 2:51 to go in the game.
Spanish Springs did tack on a meaningless score with 1:12 showing on the game clock. Fralick found Lowry for a 41-yard touchdown, leaving the scoreboard to read the final 34-20 score.
Lowry had 10 catches for 160 yards.
Spanish Springs had scored 59 and 55 points in wins the last two weeks, but the Reno defensive front had the Cougars offensive line on its heels all night. The Huskies winning the war in the trenches limited the playbook for Spanish Springs.
"I think we just changed looks," Avansino said. "If something wasn't working, we just moved right on to the next thing. It really just came down to making adjustments."
Reno had its 13-7 lead at halftime, largely because it dominated field position and made a few key plays offensively in its aforementioned early stretch. The visiting Huskies took advantage of a short field on their first two possessions and punched the pigskin in for a pair of touchdowns.
After Spanish Springs punted on its first possession, Reno took over at midfield. It needed less than three minutes to find the end zone. Chad Savage scored from 9 yards out on a quarterback draw, leading to a 7-0 Huskies lead at the first quarter's 8:09 mark.
A pair of penalties on the ensuing possession proved costly for the Cougars and they again went three and out. Reno (5-2, 2-0 HDL) started its second drive at the SSHS 47. On its first play, Savage hit Hart McGrath on a short swing pass and the RHS running back raced 47 yards to the goal line. A bad snap led to a botched extra-point try, but Reno held a 13-0 lead with 6:22 still left in the initial quarter.
"Reno executed better than we did," Hare said. "We had way too many penalties, around 18 I think tonight. We were killing ourselves on offense with way too many ticky-tack mistakes that you can't overcome in the High Desert League. You can't give these teams extra yards.
"We were out-coached. They were better prepared than we were."
The scoring paced slowed. Neither team put up any points for the next 17 minutes. The Spanish Springs offense finally began to show some signs of life in the final two minutes of the first half.
The Cougars took over at their own 6 and needed less than two minutes to march 94 yards to pay dirt. Spanish Springs got on the scoreboard with 24 seconds remaining in the first half. It got a touchdown when Fralick threw a 9-yard fade to Vance Lively in the corner of the end zone, accounting for the 6-point margin at the intermission.
The key play on the drive was a Fralick to Nauman 23-yard hookup on a slant over the middle.
Spanish Springs running back Jeff Jurgensmeier had a solid night on the ground, racking up 162 yards on 19 carries.
The Cougars (5-2, 1-1) hit the gridiron again Oct. 12 at McQueen.