The Tigers (2-8) tried to surprise the Raiders (9-1) with an onside kick. It didn’t work.
The failed attempt would be a sign of things to come as the Raiders went on to steamroll the Sierra League's No. 4 team, 55-7, and advanced to the North semifinals next Friday against Galena.
“I am as fired up as I can be right now,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said. “It’s Friday night, playing football. We get another chance to compete again with these guys. You don’t need anything else but that.”
After putting up 55 points, Howren jumped at the opportunity not to praise his offense, but his defense. The Tigers' lone score of the game came on Bailey Vidaurri’s 90-yard kickoff return, with 4:23 left in the second quarter, to close the gap to 21-7.
“If you are going to shut out a team offensively, obviously your defense is doing something right,” Howren said. “Our defense has taken a couple hits lately. They know they haven’t played their best ball, but I think to come out and shut out a team says a lot about their effort and their pride in what they’re doing. I thought the defense played awesome”
The Tigers crossed midfield only twice the entire night, both were the result of a special teams play.
Douglas recovered a punt that bounced off a Reed blocker at the RHS 21-yard line at the end of the first quarter. The defense kept the Tigers off the board, recovering a fumble three plays later. The Tigers crossed midfield for the final time, returning the opening kickoff of the second half to the Reed 45-yard line before a fourth-down stop by Reed's Jordyn Rather halted the drive.
Tigers quarterback Wes Hundley was chased all night by the Raiders’ defensive front, managing only to pick up an occasional highlight-reel first down with his legs.
“He (Hundley) is a heck of a little athlete. I mean the kid is just fast and he’s shifty,” Howren said. “He flies around. He is tough to tackle for anybody.”
The Raiders were just as dominant on the offensive side of the ball, finding the end zone on six of their first seven drives and eight of 12 total drives.
Senior running back Jordan de Leon abused the Tigers’ defense, running for 214 yards and four touchdowns on 17 touches. With the game in hand in the second half, de Leon sat out the entire fourth quarter.
de Leon was not surprised by the semi-truck sized holes he ran though.
“Our line was doing good all practice. We had great practice all week,” he said. “They were continuously holding their blocks and maintaining. It created and showed in the game.”
The Raiders’ primary ball carrier scored on touchdown runs of 83, 20, 14 and five yards, including the first three touchdowns of the game.
Reed’s quarterback, Chris Denn, completed 18-of-26 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns, a 7-yard slant to Trae Wells and a 20-yard touch pass down the seam to Jake Lehmann.
Denn also ran for 184 yards on 14 carries, including a 75-yard touchdown run at the end of the third quarter to push the gap to 48-7.
Reed's back-up quarterback, Jackson Gilmore, had a 9-yard touchdown run with 6:54 left in the game to put the running-clock rule into effect.
The Raiders will host Galena in the North Region semifinals next Friday. Galena topped Reno in the quarterfinals, 15-9. The Huskies were the only team to top Reed this year.
The Grizzlies (8-2) are the Sierra League’s No. 2 seed, losing only to Bishop Manogue and Carson.
“I know they (Galena) have a great coaching staff. We have all the respect in the world for coach (Steve) Struzyk and all the coaches over there,” Howren said. “And they have tough kids. Galena traditionally always has kids that are going to come after you.”