The Raiders’ season suffered a familiar finish on Saturday.
For the fifth-straight season, Reed saw its run come to a close at the hands of Bishop Gorman, falling 41-13 at home in the DI state semifinals.
Bishop Gorman, the No. 1 team in the country, improved to 14-0. Reed ended the campaign 13-1 after winning its fifth-straight regional title.
“It is hard to reflect,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said. “It’s like I told the kids at the end there, I never know what to say at the end because you don’t prepare your end of the game, losing speech. It’s difficult. It’s difficult when this time comes and your seniors are going to be gone. I hate it.”
As they did in last year’s state title game, the Raiders played the Gaels tough in the first half before a late run gave the Las Vegas private school squad a comfortable halftime advantage.
Reed trailed 14-6 with less than two minutes to play in the second quarter before Tate Martell lofted a 9-yard touchdown toss to Brevin Jordan in the corner.
Instead of electing to sit on the ball and take a 21-6 deficit to the locker room, Howren chose to be aggressive. Matt Denn launched a deep ball to Michael Spivack but the junior wide out slipped on the sloppy field, giving Alex Perry an easy interception.
Perry weaved through numerous would-be tacklers and crossed the plane with just 15 seconds left in the half, spotting the Gaels an insurmountable 27-6 advantage.
“I’ll be honest, we were a bit nervous for this game,” Bishop Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez said. “Anytime you play a team that’s undefeated, and averaging 58 points a game, it puts a little life in your butt in the week.
“That (pick six) is huge because it was still a tight ballgame right there. It was huge momentum at halftime.”
The Raiders responded out of the break with a 38-yard touchdown toss from Denn to Robert Ferrel on the third play of the quarter to creep within 27-13 but got no closer.
Ferrel caught four passes for 91 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
His first touchdown of the day, a 40-yarder, cut an early deficit to 14-6 (missed PAT) with 8:22 left in the second before the late Gorman run.
The Gaels followed his second touchdown with a pair of 66- and 65-yard touchdown drives respectively to put the game out of reach.
Biaggio Walsh scored the first touchdown from a yard out and capped the afternoon’s scoring with a 47-yard burst with 3:12 left in the third.
Walsh finished with four total touchdowns (one receiving, three rushing).
“We had made some good adjustments and unfortunately they made some adjustments and they just kept pounding the ball,” Howren said. “We got worn down a little bit at the end. That’s a good football team over there.”
After both teams punted on their first possessions of the day, Walsh put the Gaels up 7-0 with a 5-yard touchdown run. He doubled the distance to 14-0 on their next drive, taking a screen pass from Martell eight yards to the house.
Gorman finished with 432 yards of offense on 52 plays while Reed was held to 234 yards on 49 plays. More than half of Reed’s offensive production came from running back Jorden Carter, who went for 131 yards on 19 carries against Gorman’s monstrous front.
“You know what? I don’t know what Jorden’s stats were but we haven’t had a running back play like that against Gorman,” Howren said. “I’m really proud of Jorden. I’m proud of the offensive line (for) what they’ve done all season long.”
While the Raiders’ season came to a finish, the Gaels, winners of six-straight state titles, advanced to Saturday’s state title game against Liberty at Sam Boyd Stadium.
“Coach Howren is a phenomenal football coach. He finds a way every year to put himself (in a spot) to play for a state title,” Sanchez said. “I’m not sorry we’re the ones that have to knock him off all the time, but so be it.”