Spanish Springs fumbled at the Reno 1-yard line and dropped what would have been a touchdown pass on two different drives that both ended with the Cougars coming away empty.
"We were inside the red zone five times, actually six, and only put 21 points on the board," Spanish Springs coach Scott Hare said. "We moved the ball well, but you have to come away with points ... Our defense played well enough for us to win. This loss was squarely on the offense's shoulders.
"I told the kids these are two pretty evenly matched teams and I believed that. We just made more mistakes than they did."
Trailing 24-6 late in the third quarter, Spanish Springs (3-3, 1-1) began to claw its way back into contention. Cougars senior quarterback Hunter Fralick rambled into the end zone from 5 yards out for a touchdown and then converted a scoring run for a two-point conversion, getting the SSHS gridders within 10, 24-14, at the 1:39 mark of the third quarter.
The Spanish Springs defense forced a Reno punt and let its offense go right back to work. The Cougars marched 60 yards and hit pay dirt again. Jeff Jurgensmeier handled the scoring chores with a 10-yard TD run, helping the Cougars trim the Reno lead to 24-21 with 10:04 remaining in the contest.
Unfortunately for the visiting Cougars, when they needed one more defensive stop, they couldn't get it. Reno (4-3, 1-2) pushed its lead back to two scores when Matt Young found a seam up the middle and bolted 42 yards for a Reno touchdown with 7:45 left in the conference clash
Spanish Springs' last gasps at a comeback win died minutes later. Trailing by the final 10-point margin, the Cougars drove to the Reno eight-yard line but came away with no points, turning the ball over on downs and effectively ending the game.
Reno took a 17-6 lead into the locker room at the break. Both teams punted on their initial possessions of the second half, but Reno proceeded to extend its edge to 24-6 when it scored on a 1-yard run by Cole Eddy with 3:38 showing on the third-quarter clock.
"We still had to be aggressive. We didn't feel like we could sit on the lead," Reno coach Dan Avansino said.
Spanish Springs scored on its opening drive of the game, getting a 9-yard scoring scamper from Fralick less than three minutes into the game.
Reno took control of the game by ripping off 17 points before halftime in a string of 24 straight points.
"We didn't get stops in the first half," Hare said. "They scored all three times they had the ball. We did make some adjustments. We did a better job and got some stops in the second half, we just didn't get the ball in the end zone enough."
The turning point in the game may have been early. Trailing 7-6, on its second possession of the game, Spanish Springs looked poised to post a go-ahead touchdown, but Fralick coughed up the pigskin at the Reno 1-yard line. The Huskies recovered the loose ball and went on to march the length of the field for a score of their own.
"We were down in the red zone and I fumbled," Fralick said. "Then they end up scoring. That was humongous. We were in the red zone six times and only scored on three. That's a huge mistake. I have to make sure that doesn't happen."
Fralick was frustrated in defeat, but he did plenty to help his Cougars win. He finished 14-of-28 passing for 160 yards but more impressively, he had 20 carries for 211 rushing yards. Jurgensmeier added 89 rushing yards on 13 carries. Gehrig Parks caught nine balls for 124 receiving yards.
"They could run on us. We didn't have an answer," Avansino said. "But at the most opportune times, we seemed to get stops. It wasn't ideal defense, but our guys made plays when they had to."
Spanish Springs is at McQueen next Friday at 7 p.m.