Spanish Springs has been on the wrong end of a couple second-half runs already this year.
Last week, the Cougars allowed 26 unanswered points in a 33-19 loss at Damonte Ranch.
On Friday night, Spanish Springs was involved in another second-half run. This time, it delivered the blow.
Spanish Springs (2-2, 0-0) scored the final 29 points against Galena (2-3, 0-0) to erase an early 16-0 hole and steal a 36-22 win. It was both team’s final non-league contest before starting league play next week.
“You kind of pay your dues during those (second half runs) and you have to find ways to change it so it’s on your side,” Spanish Springs coach Eric Borja said. “I give it to our kids on this one. They responded in the second half with what we talked about at halftime.”
Senior quarterback Korbin Marcum engineered the comeback, completing 15-of-25 passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns.
His final touchdown pass, a 30-yarder to Austin Cadenhead with 9:05 left in the fourth, gave the Cougs their first lead of the night, 29-22. Cadenhead caught five passes for 78 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
Playing without arguably its two best players, Jake Berger and Mateo Lemus, Galena struggled the move the ball throughout the second half. The Grizzlies were held to 63 yards of offense after the break.
“They (the defense) stepped up,” Borja said. “They took care of it … Our guys had to buckle up and play football. And they did a great job in the second half doing that.”
The Grizzlies punted on the drive following Cadenhead’s touchdown, pinning the Cougs at their own 3 with 6:07 left – one big defensive play from tying the game.
Not phased, Spanish Springs used the ground game to march out of the hole, then put the game away with a 13-play, 97-yard drive. Kyle Smith finished the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run.
“We didn’t panic,” Borja said. “And that, I thought, was key. We were on the same page as far as play calling and execution.”
Gabby Ordaz wore down the Galena defense to the tune of 155 rushing yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. His two-yard touchdown run with 16 seconds left in the first half pulled the hosts within 22-14, starting the 29-0 run to end the game.
The dominant finish was a complete 180 from how it started for Spanish Springs.
The Cougs went three and out on their first possession, then the punt snap went into the end zone for a safety. With a short field after the kick, Galena’s Adriel Brandt went 51 yards on the first play from scrimmage to put Galena up 9-0 just 67 seconds in.
It was Brandt’s first carry of the season.
A fumble on Spanish Springs’ next drive gave the ball back to Galena and another long run set the Grizzlies up at the 3. Three plays later, Niko Pezonella dove in from a yard out to stretch the lead to 16-0 less than six minutes in.
“We were flat coming out and Galena jumped all over us, took full advantage of it,” Borja said. “Luckily, we kept it close going into the half and then we were able to settle down and get going in the second half.”
The two teams traded touchdowns before Ordaz’s touchdown at the end of the half to close the gap to 22-14.
Cole Drescher had two receptions in the win. Both went for touchdowns. His 19-yard grab in the corner with 47 seconds left in the first quarter pulled Spanish Springs within 19-7. His 27-yarder across the middle midway through the third (and an Ordaz two-point conversion), drew the Cougs even, 22-22.
Attention now shifts to High Desert League play starting next Friday, when Spanish Springs will open at McQueen. The Lancers are 1-3, coming off a 56-17 loss to Damonte Ranch.
“We kind of talked about this being our last preseason game,” Borja said. “Obviously we need to fix some things and get ready for league play. But I tell you what, there’s nothing better than having a win to get that confidence going in.”