Carson High kicker Isaac Avina swings through his game-winning 20-yard field goal Friday night against Douglas.
Jeff Mulvihill, Jr. | InstaImage
The 98th installment of The Rivalry Game came down to the final seconds in Minden Friday night.
As time expired, Carson High’s junior kicker Isaac Avina piped through a 20-yard field goal to give the Senators a 17-15 win as the clock hit triple zero.
Once the ball left Avina’s foot, the Senator sideline erupted as it went through the uprights, running onto the Tiger turf in celebration.
Senator quarterback Vinny Ferretti did a good job handling a low snap for Avina and the rest was done on the right leg of the Carson junior.
“I just had to cool my head and get it in there,” said Avina. “It’s crazy, especially with no time on the clock left.”
Avina hit the post on a 39-yard field goal in the first half, but Carson High’s head coach said he didn’t have any doubts in the game’s final moments.
“100 percent. I feel like he is one of the better kickers in the league. The snap was a little low, Vinny did a great job on the hold,” said Carson High head coach Blair Roman. “Credit to Isaac for keeping his cool.”
The game-winning kick was setup by a long Jacob Campbell kickoff return, following Douglas’ second touchdown of the evening.
The Tigers went ahead 15-14 with 3:43 to go in regulation, but Campbell quickly flipped the field and put the Senators in opposing territory.
Carson ran the ball seven times over its next eight plays to wind the clock down to three seconds before calling a timeout and trotting Avina out for the winner.
“It was big. It swung the momentum back to us,” said Roman of Campbell’s kickoff return.
Along with the kickoff return Campbell had 152 yards rushing on 27 carries, unofficially.
Douglas makes gutsy call late
Having not scored since its opening drive of the game, the Douglas coaching staff had already decided they were going for the win if they scored again.
Starting from their own 30, the Tigers moved 70 yards on 10 plays, ultimately finding the end zone behind their bruiser of a tailback, Gabe Foster.
The touchdown brought the Tigers within one, 14-13, with 3:43 to go in regulation.
Without hesitation, Douglas went right back to its senior who muscled his way in for two more points to put Douglas up, 15-14.
“We’re going to try and win it. We always tell the kids there are times we are going to put them out there because we trust them and they came through,” said Douglas head coach Kyle Mays.
“That’s a typical Carson, Douglas rivalry. That’s why it’s the best in Nevada,” added Mays. “It’s physical and it lasts the whole 48 minutes."
In the first half, Douglas went 93 yards on 12 plays to take a 7-0 lead after a Trevor Middaugh interception.
Middaugh capped the drive too, scampering 35 yards on a crossing route to paydirt on a pass from Owen Evans.
The Tigers fumbled on their next offensive possession and opted to go for it on fourth down from their own 29 on their next possession.
Carson snuffed out the fake punt on fourth down and was able to tie the game, 7-7, with 15 seconds left in the half.
Mays criticized himself for the call postgame.
“I’m upset with myself because I put them in a bad spot and that cost us the game,” said Mays. “It was 100 percent on me. That fake punt is squarely on me.”
For the Carson seniors, it is the first time they've experienced winning The Rivalry Game after Douglas had won each of the past three encounters.
UP NEXT: Douglas (1-6, 1-5) won’t end its regular season with rivalry week as the Tigers conclude matters next Friday at Spanish Springs.
Carson (3-4, 3-3) is finished for the regular season with a bye week next week. The Senators will await their playoff seeding as the final week of the regular season in the Class 5A North plays out.