Almost all were wrong.
Reed led Carson 21-19 at halftime on its home field Friday night before scoring 36 unanswered third-quarter points to sprint out to a 57-19 lead before winning 64-26.
Going into the game coach Ernie Howren said he, and his team, was not looking for revenge after a disputable call in 2012 gave Carson a last-second game-winning touchdown over the Raiders. Even after the second-half dismantling, he stood by that statement.
“I hate to be a broken record here but I don’t even think about last year. Last year was last year,” Howren said. “I don’t really care how the game ended last year. It ended up being a loss and that’s the only thing that frustrated me.”
So coach, that must have been one of the greatest halftime speeches of your life, huh?
“No. I could sit here and try to take credit for it but it’s the kid and all the coaches. Everybody came in. There was total focus,” Howren said. “We understood the type of team Carson was coming in and we knew we were going to be in for a fight. We came in, chalk talked it, and everybody took care of business. I really was proud of the approach to halftime. It was awesome.”
On its opening possession, Reed marched the length of the field before missing a field-goal attempt. The Senators took advantage putting together a drive of their own, resulting in a three-yard touchdown run from Joey Thurman.
The two teams then started to trade first-half blows.
After a string on fruitless drives by both squads, Reed quarterback Chris Denn hit a wide-open Trae Wells on the seam who scored from 47 yards with 52 seconds left in the first quarter to tie the game at seven.
Denn completed 15 of 24 pass attempts for a meaty 362 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 98 yards on 12 carries.
“Denn keeps improving weekly,” Howren said. “His approach to the game, whether it be in film, scouting report, practice, it is why he’s doing right now because he keeps putting himself in that position. I’m really proud of him.”
On the ensuing kickoff, Thurman was bottled up at his own 20 before popping out of the group of would-be tacklers and marching to the Reed 10-yard line. Garrett Schafer connected with Alan Cohren on a perfectly thrown fade route on the next play.
Reed’s Jorden Carter wrapped up the Raider’s following 78-yard drive with a two-yard plunge. Carter finished with three touchdowns on 11 carries and 65 yards.
The strangest play of the night, and maybe the season, followed. Planting his foot to send the ensuing kickoff deep, Reed kicker Jesse Brock slipped on the Reed grass, creating a kickoff turned onside kick which the Raiders recovered but were unable to capitalize on.
Carson then marched 88 yards to grab a 19-14 lead before Reed marched 84 yards of its own on the back of an 80-yard touchdown reception from Jake Lehmann. The Raiders never looked back.
On Carson’s first possession of the second half, Brett Handlin jumped an out route to intercept Schafer and broke a string of tackles before putting the Raiders up 28-19.
Reed then put together consecutive scoring drives of 58 yards, 10 yards, 79 yards and 69 yards. Each drive started after a Carson three-and-out.
The Raiders defense did not allow a Senators first down from the four-minute mark in the second quarter until there was one minute left in the third quarter.
To no surprise, Howren was pleased with his defensive unit.
“Excellent. Top to bottom,” Howren said. “We challenged the defense. We told them that we needed to come out and match their physicality offensively. Because Carson is a physical football team and we were counting on our defense to do that and we really feel like they did.”
Wells continued to assert himself as one of the best deep-ball threats in the north hauling in eight balls for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
“Trae is a dude that’s all I can say,” Howren said. “He’s an absolute stud.”
“It’s been developing since freshman year,” Denn said of the connection with his favorite target. “But he’s pretty good. He’s a freak athlete. It’s awesome seeing how well he’s doing.”
Now 4-0, Reed shifts its focus to the High Desert League opener next Friday at home against McQueen.
“It’s always a huge win. I told the kids go celebrate,” Howren said. “But the reality is our focus is league and league starts tomorrow.”