Hug won the coin toss to start the game and elected to defer. That turned out to be a bad call. Spanish Springs marched down the field with ease and hit pay dirt on a 1-yard Conrad Tanyi touchdown run three minutes into the game.
It didn’t take the SSHS gridders long to build on their early success. The guests forced a Hug punt on the Hawks’ first possession and went right back to work on offense again. Spanish Springs cashed in on a 5-yard scoring scamper by Jake O’Roarke that left it holding a 14-0 lead just seven minutes into the conference contest.
The Cougars did not let up. They drove 65 yards to the end zone and Tanyi dove across the goal line from a yard out for his second touchdown of the night and a 21-0 Spanish Springs lead at the 3:07 mark of the second quarter.
“I felt like we played better offensively this week than we had and that’s because of the number of fronts we faced,” Cougars coach Scott Hare said. “We might usually see four and tonight I bet we saw 12. They caught us in some bad calls a couple times, but our kids made some great adjustments against some defenses they had not seen yet.”
Hug had only two bright spots all night and one came on the ensuing kickoff. That’s when Phillip Jackson returned a kick 90 yards to the end zone for Hug’s first touchdown and a 21-7 score with 2:47 remaining before halftime.
The problem for Hug was it scored too quick. Spanish Springs went into its two-minute offense and added another touchdown before the break. It took the Cougars just six plays to go 70 yards. The touchdown came when SSHS sophomore quarterback Hunter Fralick hooked up with Blake Nauman for a 56 pass-and-catch scoring combination. Nauman actually fumbled at the 2 but jumped on the pigskin for the touchdown after it bounced into the end zone.
The score came with 55 ticks to go before halftime and the 28-7 score remained intact into the intermission.
Nauman had four catches for 109 receiving yards. Fralick finished 13-of-21 for 189 yards passing.
Spanish Springs took all the momentum into the locker room at halftime. It did not relinquish it in the final two quarters either.
Hug did score first in the second half. That was the other Hawks bright spot. It came at the 4:33 mark of the third quarter when Tevin Montgomery found a seam and raced 76 yards to the goal line for a Hug TD that made it 28-14.
That’s as good as it got Hug. It could get no closer the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Spanish Springs proceeded to put the proverbial nail in the Hawks’ coffin. It tacked on two more touchdowns to put the game away.
“We are definitely hurt by our quarterback play,” Hug coach Derek Bennett said. “We lost both of our quarterbacks in Week 1. We’re not able to throw the ball and teams can stack up against the run … I felt like we did more to hurt ourselves than they did to stop us.”
Spanish Springs defensive back Ryder Lowry intercepted a Hug pass and returned it 25 yards to midfield. He was hit late by a Hug defender, which resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, setting the Cougars up at the HHS 35.
Spanish Springs took advantage of the short field. After five plays, Tanyi found himself in the end zone on another 1-yard touchdown run. The PAT kick failed but the Sparks school had a 34-14 lead with 1:57 showing on the third-quarter clock.
Spanish Springs posted its final touchdown of the night with three and half minutes to go in the game, an 11-yard Tanyi TD run. That score was also set up by a Lowry interception that was returned deep into Hawks territory.
Tanyi racked up 133 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries.
The Cougars were never really threatened. Hug (0-3) did not run a play inside the Spanish Springs 35-yard line all night. It’s only trips into the end zone came on the long run and long kickoff return.
“We had a lot of good blitzes and our schemes worked really well the whole night,” Spanish Springs senior defensive lineman Tyler Wilson said. “Our coaches did a great job of putting us in the right spots.
“We are definitely growing and getting better. We are practicing well and you can see it on the field.”
Spanish Springs (2-1) has now strung together back-to-back wins after taking one on the chin in its season opener two weeks ago, falling 55-14 to then nationally ranked Del Oro of suburban Sacramento.
“I thought we played really good defense,” Hare said. “I really like the way we’re swarming to the football. I feel like we’re the aggressor. I attribute that to playing that first game against Del Oro and playing a game at that speed. Now, we’re running well to the football.”
Spanish Springs returns to the gridiron Friday for a home game against Galena. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.