But with the Lancers’ narrow victory over previously winless Damonte Ranch last week, the whispers predicting a Raider blowout began getting louder and louder.
Those predictions rang true even without Reed’s normally high-powered offense showing up.
The Raiders scored on their opening drive thanks to a long field goal by kicker and quarterback A.J. Silva, making it a 3-0 ballgame, after he threw three straight incompletions.
McQueen had a shot at tying the game on the ensuing possession, but had a 41-yard field goal blocked. Austin Polli picked up the ball and followed a convoy down the right sideline for a 72-yard touchdown return. Silva’s extra point made it 10-0 with 5:27 left in the first quarter.
“It (special teams) set the tone early in the game. It basically got us 10 points early in the game,” Reed football coach Ernie Howren said.
The Raiders’ offensive struggles were especially evident considering how much the Blue and Gold dominated the field position game. In the first half, Reed started four possessions inside the McQueen 40-yard line, but those only led to six first-quarter points on 50- and 20-yard field goals by Silva. The other two drives ended with a missed 45-yard field goal and a punt both in the second quarter.
The Raiders only managed 123 yards of offense in the first half. Over half that production came on a six-play, 69-yard scoring drive, capped by a 27-yard touchdown run by Silva, who went virtually untouched through the left side of the line. His PAT was blocked, leaving Reed in the lead, 16-0, with 3:28 on the first-quarter clock.
Reed went ahead 19-0 thanks to Silva’s second field goal with 2.9 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Both teams played a scoreless second quarter.
McQueen threatened to erase the goose egg off the scoreboard in the closing seconds of the first half. The Lancers drove down to the Raiders’ 14, only to see a sack push them back six yards. Tyler Fritsen’s 37-yard field-goal attempt went wide right with 2 seconds before the break.
“That was a sloppy game on a lot of levels offensively. We know that,” Howren said. “We’ve been talking about it all year. We knew our defense would show what kind of defense it can be. I felt like they stepped up tonight. As far as the offense, the one thing I was most proud of was in the first half, McQueen took us out of a lot of different things. We knew they were going to be fast and physical. They got us in a couple spots. We came back in the second half, and I was really proud of the kids. They answered the challenge, stepped up and got after it.”
Senior fullback John Covello led the charge in the second half for the visitors. Covello set up Silva’s 5-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the second half by busting out runs of 29 and 36 yards as Reed trekked 82 yards in less than two minutes to go up 26-0.
When the Raiders got the ball back, Covello broke another 30-yard gain. This time, Covello was handed the ball so he could carry a defender across the goal line on his 5-yard TD. Covello finished with 166 yards on 14 carries. All but 40 of those yards came in the second half.
Covello’s TD increased Reed’s lead to 33-0 midway through the third quarter.
After the two teams traded punts, McQueen finally took a shutout out of the equation. The Lancers picked apart the Raiders’ defense during their 12-play scoring drive. An 8-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Robbins to Eric Delucchi ended the 84-yard journey.
However, the snap on the extra point was bobbled and McQueen was left trailing 33-6 with 14 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Following Silva’s second interception of the night, Reed’s defense stepped up and took the ball back. Pressure forced Robbins to fumble and Spencer Empey was there to pick it up and bring it into the end zone for the final 40-6 margin.
McQueen ran nearly 20 more plays from scrimmage than Reed but was still outgained by over 50 yards.
Reed (3-1, 2-0 in Northern 4A) hosts North Valleys Friday night at 7:30 p.m.