Football games are rarely won in the first quarter. They can certainly be lost in the initial 12 minutes, however.
Reed’s 12-game regular season winning streak was not snapped in Friday’s season opener at Clayton Valley Charter (Concord, Calif.) due to an absence of plays late. It was snapped because of the plays that weren’t made, early, in a 35-21 defeat.
The Raiders (0-1, 0-0) found themselves down 21-0 a few minutes into the second quarter largely because of three plays that went the other way. Trying to get off the field on fourth and 12, the Raiders gave up a 51-yard pass. One touchdown got wiped off the board due a holding penalty. And a fumble in Ugly Eagles (yes, that’s the actual mascot) territory resulted in a 75-yard scoop-and-score.
Reed coach Ernie Howren, who played for Clayton Valley Charter before continuing has career as a lineman at Utah State, was obviously unhappy with the early miscues. He knew what his team was against, though.
Clayton Valley has played for state titles in California the last two years.
“You can just see how well they’re coached, how intense they are as a program,” Howren said. “You’re not going to see many teams that physical.”
After falling into the early hole, the Raiders outscored the Ugly Eagles, 21-14.
Senior running back Tre Bussey cut the deficit to 21-7 before the break with a 1-yard dive. He clawed the guests within a touchdown with a 4-yard touchdown run in the third.
Presented with the opportunity to drive and tie the game following a defensive turnover on downs, Reed went three-and-out. A shanked punt gave Clayton Valley strong starting position and the Ugly Eagles took advantage to put the game away.
Junior Josiah Schmidt broke a 71-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to account for Reed’s final points of the night.
Howren said he was glad the miscues happened in the first game of the season, leaving plenty of time to evaluate and repair. He was also pleased with his team’s response to Clayton Valley’s toughness.
“If we can hang with a team like that, I think we’re going to be just fine,” he said.
It was the first career start for junior quarterback Cameron Emerson, who Howren said responded like a veteran to the early adversity.
The Raiders will attempt to rebound next Friday at Douglas (1-0, 0-0). The Tigers upset McQueen, at McQueen, in overtime on Friday night.
Reed has won 17 straight games against 4A North opponents.