On a fourth-and-6 play from the Spanish Springs 31-yard line, McQueen tailback Nick Shepard came out of the backfield uncovered. Lancers QB Christian Stolo hit him with a short floating pass down the sideline and Shepard did the rest, racing into the end zone untouched for the game-winning touchdown.
McQueen, which had not converted an extra point try on either of its two previous touchdowns, made good on its third as Stolo found Lucas Boge in the end zone for the two-point conversion, putting the finishing touches on a 20-14 McQueen victory in Northern 4A prep football action.
“Nick read the defense and did that on his own,” McQueen offensive coordinator Mark Zimmerman said. “When a kid sees what’s happening and makes the right read, that’s the best. It was a great game. Both teams played hard.”
Spanish Springs coach Scott Hare didn’t make any excuses for the blown coverage.
“It’s a play we hadn’t seen. I think ‘Zim’ made a great call in that situation and they got us,” Hare said. “Nobody was out of position. It’s a game. It happens.”
After a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, Spanish Springs had a last-gasp chance to try and come back but a pair of incomplete passes and a McQueen sack secured the northwest Reno school’s victory.
After trailing 12-0 early in the third quarter, Spanish Springs put back-to-back touchdown drives together to take a 14-12 lead. Spanish Springs marched 65 yards for its first touchdown, a drive that was capped by a 5-yard Tanner Oates pass to Dylan Woll with 8:03 showing on the third-quarter clock.
Spanish Springs (5-1, 4-1) kept the momentum. After forcing a McQueen punt on the next Lancers’ possession, Woll returned the punt 38 yards to the McQueen 48. Ten plays later, Spanish Springs had the go-ahead touchdown on a fourth-down 1-yard Taylor Swanson touchdown run at the 2:27 mark of the third quarter. The Cougars looked primed to hold on and steal the victory until McQueen’s late-game heroics.
McQueen (5-1, 4-1) got on the scoreboard first. The Lancers took a 6-0 lead with 12 seconds remaining in the first quarter thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run by Eric Martinez.
That score stood until halftime as neither team could get much generated before the break. The two teams combined for nine punts, and with the exception of McQueen’s lone scoring march, neither team had a drive with more than one first down.
“I really think both teams prepped well for the opponent,” McQueen coach Jim Snelling said of the lackluster offensive first half. “Plus, both teams are a little short on numbers due to some guys being banged up. So I think we were both a little worn out.
“But that’s a great team over there. Spanish Springs is well coached and they play hard. They were 5-0 for a reason.”
Hare had different feelings.
“We played horribly in the first half. We weren’t staying on our blocks and we had breakdowns on assignments,” Hare said. “I didn’t think they did anything different in the second half. We just settled down. It was better on both sides of the ball in the second half. We just didn’t put four quarters together. We played two.”
McQueen got the ball first in the second half and added to its lead. Shepard handled the scoring honors with a 1-yard touchdown run at the 10:20 mark of the third quarter. He also had a 33-yard run on the drive after it looked like he had been stopped at the line of scrimmage, but bounced the play outside for the big gain. A 47-yard kickoff return by Arnold Carillo set the Lancers up with good field position on the initial drive after halftime.
Shepard, racked up 132 rushing yards on 26 carries Friday night.
Spanish Springs is off next week with a bye and does not return to action until it hosts Carson Oct. 15.