Back and forth, the teams traded the ball as though they were playing hot potato with zero points generated after one quarter of play. The offenses awoke a little in the second quarter and the Raiders grabbed a 14-6 lead just before the intermission. Reed (5-3) carried that momentum over into the second half en route to a 52-20 victory on its Senior Night.
“They just made the plays they needed to make,” North Valleys coach Ty Gregg said. “Their defense was in the spots it needed to be and it ran to the ball and made plays. They were a step ahead and got to the ball quick. Our defense did pretty well too, but it is one of those deals where they’re making plays and we have to make something happen. We just went dead there for two or three quarters. They created the momentum they needed to create and we didn’t respond.”
While both teams seemed to be sleep walking through the first half, it was the Blue and Gold that stirred from its slumber first to start the third quarter.
Following an exchange of punts, Reed took the ball at its own 32-yard line. After picking up just its fourth first down of the night, quarterback Mark Nowaczewski took the ball from under center, faked a hand off to Brett Chaney and then bolted 58 yards for a touchdown for Reed to go ahead 21-6 with 8:09 left on the third quarter clock.
A trio of punts gave the Raiders the ball close to midfield and working with a short field, Reed running back Ty Shepard zipped up the middle from 22 yards out, leaving the scoreboard reading 28-6 at the 1:43 mark of the third.
A three-and-out gave the ball back to the Raiders and again they took advantage of a short field. This time running back Carlos Pinto dashed 22 yards for a score and a 35-6 lead with 10:31 left in the fourth quarter
The Panthers responded a mere 30 seconds later, showing signs of life for the first time since the second quarter. After fielding the ensuing kickoff, Alex Pinto raced 80 yards down the left sideline on the visitors first play from scrimmage, cutting the score to 35-12.
The touchdown did little for the comeback hopes of NVHS (1-6) though as Reed extended its advantage to 45-12 with 1:38 remaining in the contest on a 22-yard field goal by Chris Denn and a 12-yard TD run by Jordan Deleon.
Both sides added another touchdown before the final horn as North Valleys quarterback Daniel Lewis scrambled 10 yards for a score with 0:30 on the game clock before Shepard galloped 95 yards to return the ensuing kickoff back to result in the final.
“To be honest, we didn’t sustain drives,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said. “What it comes down to is we just had some big plays there in the second half that helped us get some points on the board. As far as sustaining drives, we only had two drives where we actually drove the length of the field. We have to go back and watch film and just keep practicing hard. Hopefully we can see what we did wrong.”
While Howren was not necessarily pleased with the performance of his offense, the play of his defense was plenty to leave him happy.
“They did an excellent, excellent job,” Howren said of the Raider D. “To give up 20 points and only six points in the first, and those six were on a short field. That just shows what they are capable of. They’re executing the game plan. It’s the one thing that we’re not doing offensively and defensively, it’s just the opposite. Everything that they’re being taught to do in film and meetings and practice, they are buying into and executing to a tee. It’s perfect.”
To start the game, the Panthers opened the scoring on a 15-yard pass from Lewis to Jesse Krueger for a 6-0 lead at the 10:04 mark of the second quarter. Reed answered less than 30 seconds later with a 25-yard TD run up the gut by Shepard to take a 7-6 edge, Just before halftime, the Raiders were looking for a field goal but ended up finding the end zone as the holder Chaney took a high snap on the attempt and raced to the corner pylon for the score and 14-6 lead at the intermission.
Nowaczewski led the Raiders in their victorious effort, racking up 122 yards and a score on 17 rushing attempts. Through the air, Nowaczewski was 12-of-25 for 101 yards. Shepard also got in on the ground attack, finishing the night with 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 14 carries. Devin Gray had seven catches for 46 yards, while Chaney tallied 49 yards and three receptions.
Reed will now prepare for a showdown with rival Reno (6-2) Oct. 19. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.