After last week’s fortuitous win at Carson, some started to speculate this could be the year Reed will get knocked from its perch atop Northern Nevada.
Not so fast.
The Raiders (3-1) reminded the rest of the region where they rank in the 4A North pecking order on Friday night in the home opener. Reed jumped out to a 28-0 lead at the half against Oak Ridge, one of Northern California’s premier programs, and went on to win 55-34. The Trojans (3-1) entered the contest ranked the No. 33 team in all of California by maxpreps.com, and lost to the Raiders for the third straight year.
“Obviously, it (first half) set the tone for the game,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said.
Reed junior quarterback Cameron Emerson completed 16-of-23 passes for 238 yards and four touchdowns, thanks almost solely to the work of senior receiver Robert Ferrel. The shift pass catcher grabbed 10 of Emerson’s passes for 199 yards and all four touchdowns, a nine-yarder, a 49-yarder, a 48-yarder and a 58-yarder.
As a team, Reed finished with 527 yards of offense on 59 plays (8.9 yards per play), while holding Oak Ridge to 299 yards on 76 plays (3.9 yards per play).
The Trojans came in scoring more than 46 points per game, and had allowed just 47 points combined in their previous three games. They mustered only 50 yards of offense in the scoreless first half before clawing back into the game in the third quarter.
“It’s something that we just have to continue getting better at, as far as keeping our foot on the gas,” Howren said. “The second half there, (we were) just kind of flat. I’m not really sure what that is.”
The Trojans got the ball to start the second half and scored on four straight possessions, returning a kick for a touchdown and turning a fumble into seven points, to pull within 41-28 with 2:24 left in the third.
Reed’s third turnover of the night, another fumble, on the ensuing drive set Oak Ridge up at the Reed 48 with the chance to sneak within a possession. Reed’s defense arched its back.
The Raiders held the Trojans to five yards on three plays, then on fourth and five, stuffed quarterback Marco Baldacchino, who tried to run for the first.
Six plays later, Reed junior running back Josiah Schmidt ran through a huge hole for a 26-yard touchdown, pushing the Raiders’ lead to 48-28 early in the fourth and all but putting the game away.
“That (fourth down stop) was kind of the turning point again,” Howren said. “I always talk to the kids about managing emotion, and managing momentum shifts. They had the momentum on their side and that stand is what set the tone for us to get the momentum back.”
Reed forced an Oak Ridge punt on the following drive, and quickly marched 75 yards to end any uncertainty and take a 55-28 lead. Schmidt capped the drive with a five-yard touchdown run. He finished with 58 yards and two scores on nine carries.
His final touchdown was set up by a long Tre Bussey burst. Bussey ran through and around Trojan defenders all night to the tune of 221 yards and two touchdowns on 20 touches.
Oak Ridge scored one last touchdown inside of two minutes to play.
A lengthy JV game before the varsity game pushed the original 7:30 p.m. kick back 40 minutes. Triple zeroes did not show until after 10:40 p.m.
Now winners of three straight since dropping the season opener at Clayton Valley Charter, Reed will wrap non-league play up next Friday at home against Bishop Manogue.
The Miners are also off to a 3-1 start.
“It’s huge for us because it’s our last non-league game to get ready for league,” Howren said. “There’s a ton for us to clean up before we get into league.”