Raiders force nine turnovers, score 38 unanswered in 38-22 victory
The Tony Amantia era started in memorable fashion on Friday night.
In his first game standing on the sidelines at Reed after replacing Ernie Howren in January, Amantia’s Raiders forced nine turnovers on their way to 38 unanswered points in a 38-22 home win over Clayton Valley Charter (Concord, Calif.).
“I feel really good for the kids more than anything,” Amantia said. “They want to get this back to where it’s been the last couple years. They want to be in the regional championship. And that was a good measuring stick playing a quality football team like that.”
The game was a rematch of last year’s season opener at Clayton Valley Charter and it provided a different outcome. The Raiders fell in that contest on the road, 35-21.
An experience gap was blatant the second time around and Clayton Valley losing its starting quarterback to injury in the first quarter didn’t help the Ugly Eagles either.
“They (Reed) are better. And we’re really junior-loaded. But our juniors are good so I thought we’d have a better performance tonight,” Clayton Valley coach Tim Murphy said.
Murphy has a personal philosophy to go for every fourth down regardless of the situation and attempt a two-point conversion following each touchdown. Of his squads nine total turnovers, seven were on downs. That total included going for a fourth-and-10 from their own 5-yard line with 10 seconds left in the first half. The pass fell incomplete and Aidan Sawyer hit a 22-yard field goal as time expired to give the Raiders a 31-8 halftime advantage.
Reed’s average starting field position was its own 41, starting three drives in Clayton Valley territory.
“This group was not ready for me to do all my fourth-down stuff that I’ve done with my prior teams,” Murphy said. “So that was too much pressure on them too early. Putting kids in those in those fourth-down situations is really tough and you need to have a little more experience. I’ll probably have to play it a little bit slower.”
The Ugly Eagles grabbed an 8-0 lead on their first drive of the game, cashing in on a drive that started at Reed’s 22-yard line following a long kickoff return. Then the Raiders rattled off the 38 unanswered, all coming off turnovers.
One play after an Emerson fourth-down interception at the 4-yard line, 6-5 295-pound defensive end Charles Tuavao fell on a fumble in the end zone for the Raiders first points of the season.
Running back Josiah Schmidt threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Isaac McCoy on a fourth-down trick play and scored a 39-yard touchdown right up the middle the ensuing drive to put the Raiders up 21-8.
Emerson’s five-yard touchdown pass to Champ Robertson and Sawyer’s field goal pushed the lead to 23 going to the locker room.
Clayton Valley finally ended the streak of eight-straight turnovers with a 16-play, 67-yard touchdown drive late in the third to cut the distance to 38-16. The drive was symbolic of the Ugly Eagles’ entire night as chunk plays proved too elusive. Reed’s defense held its opposition to just 3.3 yards/play.
“We were running to the football,” Amantia said. “We made some mistakes. We made some missed calls. They kids are learning a new system. I just kind of look at everything as first-game jitters. We made some mistakes on special teams as well … When you can overcome those mistakes and still win the game, it says a lot of things about the potential of your squad.”
A second-straight scoring drive for Clayton Valley cut the deficit to two scores, 38-22, with 8:56 left, but neither team would score again.
The Raiders finished with 287 yards of offense on 47 plays compared to the Ugly Eagles’ 238 yards on 72 plays.
Reed will stay at home next Friday, playing host to Douglas. The Raiders bounced the Tigers in the regional semifinals last year, 47-7. That game was also at Reed.
“We’re going to celebrate tonight,” Amantia said. “Then we’ll slap each other on the backside tomorrow morning and it’s on to the next opponent.”