It was assumed Spanish Springs could do no worse than trail by a possession when the offense jogged off the field midway through the first quarter in a scoreless game.
High school football tends to laugh at assumptions.
Reno (8-1, 2-1) scored 15 straight points without its defense stepping on the field, thanks to a pair of pooch kick recoveries, and never slowed down, handing the Cougars (5-3, 2-1) a lopsided 50-19 home loss on Friday night.
The defeat, which featured running clock most of the fourth quarter, snapped the first four-game winning streak since 2010 and prevented Spanish Springs from securing just the second home playoff game in program history.
“It was a big, big test for our kids as far as where we were as a team this year, and as a program,” Spanish Springs coach Eric Borja said. “We just got physically beat up tonight.”
The Cougars are now technically tied with the Huskies for second place in the High Desert League with one game to play, although Reno owns the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Junior BYU commit Brandon Kaho was a massive problem for the Cougars all night. His fifth and final touchdown of the contest, a 58-yarder midway through the third quarter, extended Reno’s lead to 35-13.
His only other carry of the half went 69 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the third quarter. The long run pushed the guests up 29-7.
“He’s just a big, physical (runner),” Borja said. “He’s just a big kid and an outstanding football player. There’s nothing more to say about that one.
“You either stop it, or you don’t. They had us tonight, no question.”
In a scary scene, Kaho was down in the end zone for several minutes after his fifth score. He eventually walked to the sideline. Zane Barnard came on to hit the PAT. It was the first Reno point Kaho didn’t score.
The junior did not return. It didn’t matter. The Huskies outscored the Cougars 14-6 the rest of the way.
Spanish Springs managed just 241 yards of offense, 205 of which came through the air. Korbin Marcum completed 15-of-29 passes for two touchdowns and an interception.
Kaho’s first two touchdowns of the night put the Huskies up 12-0 (both PATs failed). Reno recovered its second straight pooch kick and Kaho hit a 35-yard field goal – 15-0.
“Great coaching on their end, just saw some holes in our kickoff return team and exploited it big time,” Borja said of the two pooch kicks that led to nine Reno points. “That had a huge effect on field position and scoring opportunities that we can’t give a good team.”
A quick Spanish Springs three-and-out gave the ball back to the Huskies, who proceeded to go 64 yards. Kaho ended the drive with his third touchdown of the half, from a yard out.
In desperate need of points, Marcum hit running back Gabby Ordaz on fourth and 18 for a 31-yard touchdown with just 1:02 left in the first half.
Spanish Springs’ first points of the night left them down 22-7 at the half.
The Cougars end the regular season on Thursday night at first-place Reed. A win, paired with a Reno loss to McQueen, would give the Cougars the HDL No. 2 seed and a home playoff game. A loss means they will open the postseason on the road as the HDL No. 3 seed.