Early in the in the second quarter on Friday night, Reed found itself in a fight with McQueen.
Two plays after the Lancers’ Damont Saah rumbled 42 yards to tie the game at seven, Reed quarterback Matt Denn was intercepted.
But it turned out to be a pretty lame fight.
Reed’s defense forced a turnover on downs following the pick and the Raiders scored on their next seven possessions, cruising to a 63-28 home shellacking.
Reed improved to 9-0, 4-0 and clinched the High Desert League title with the win—its third-straight game scoring at least 63 points. McQueen dropped to 5-3, 3-1.
“We just secured league. We just secured home playoffs. There’s nothing more important than that,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said. “That’s the whole reason you want to go win league, so you can be playing at home in the playoffs.”
The interception was the lone blemish on Denn’s otherwise dominant night. The senior quarterback completed 17-of-23 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 133 yards and two more scores on 12 carries.
He connected early and often with Robert Ferrel, who caught three first-half touchdowns on four receptions for 103 yards. He added a 19-yard touchdown run and took a kickoff 90 yards to the house with eight minutes left in the fourth, pushing the Raiders’ lead to 63-21.
“I was just looking to run,” Ferrel said of the kickoff return.
Leading 21-7 with two minutes left in the first half, Reed forced a McQueen fourth-and-long from its own 40. With his starting punter injured, McQueen coach Jim Snelling elected to run a fake punt. It didn’t work.
The Raiders took over possession and scored eight plays later on a 4-yard Jorden Carter (76 yards on 16 carries) touchdown with just 15 seconds left before the break.
“That was my call,” Snelling said of the decision to run a fake punt. “I was afraid we were going to get it blocked so we went for that and gave up another score. So now, instead of being down 21-7, you’re down 28-7.”
With the outcome all but determined early in the second half, the only drama left in the final two quarters was whether or not Reed would enact the running-clock mercy rule (45-point differential or more).
Parker Houston caught an 11-yard touchdown from Denn with 4:38 left in the third quarter to push the lead to 49-7 only for the Lancers to put together three-straight touchdowns with backups in for both teams—preventing the running clock.
Houston caught seven passes for 72 yards and the touchdown.
Before McQueen’s three fourth-quarter touchdown drives, Reed’s defense held the Lancers’ high-powered offense to just 193 yards of offense. McQueen averaged 53 points a night in its three games prior.
“I thought our defense played awesome,” Howren said. “They’re kind of getting hammered. It’s the thing everyone keeps latching on to saying ‘that’s the part of Reed we’re questioning.’ Go back and look at the stats of what our defense is doing against team’s first offense and it’s pretty good. It ranks right up there with the best defenses in the entire area.”
Reed racked up 545 yards of offense on 63 plays in the win. McQueen finished with 402 yards (209 in the fourth quarter) on 62 plays.
The Lancers host Reno next Thursday in the final week of the regular season. The winner claims the HDL No. 2 seed and a home playoff game. The loser will settle for third and be forced to open the playoffs on the road.
The Raiders have already secured the HDL No. 1 seed and will host Spanish Springs—which clinched the HDL No. 4 seed on Friday—next Thursday.
“It’s a rivalry game. (I have) great respect for what Spanish Springs is doing over there,” Howren said. “You can’t use that (rivalry as motivation). You should be focused on (the fact) it’s the 10th game of the season. It’s another chance for us to get better leading into the playoffs.”