With 1:28 to play and a 20-12 lead, the Raiders had stopped the Tigers on a fourth-down play with an interception deep in their own territory. Needing to move the ball just enough to run down the clock, Raider quarterback Brent Showalter attempted a screen pass on second down that was defended perfectly by Douglas senior Matt Metz, who stepped in front of the receiver and ran the ball 5 yards for a touchdown and a 20-18 score.
“That pass, that was coach’s call,” Reed head coach Ernie Howren said, moments after his team survived the subsequent two-point conversion attempt to hang on to win. “Apparently, really bad call.”
Needing two points to tie the game, Douglas lined up to put the ball in the end zone. Quarterback Zack Williams kept the ball and dashed around the right side of the Reed defense. Sophomore Spencer Empey dragged Williams down from behind and as he hit the ground, the ball popped loose. As a Tiger picked up the ball and ran it into the end zone, the side judge blew his whistle and signaled that Williams’ knee was down and the play was dead, as Douglas players and coaches screamed in disbelief.
“I figured they were going to roll,” Howren said of defending the play. “Whatever their first two-point conversion was going to be, we wanted to make them go to their second choice.”
Reed recovered an onside kick attempt and took a knee to end the game with a 20-18 win in the first round of the 2010 playoffs.
Even before the tense final 88 seconds, Reed and Douglas played a tight game. The Raiders opened the scoring on their opening possession. Starting at their own 11-yard line, the drive was highlighted by a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch by junior Beau Tittensor at the Tiger 20, setting up a 13-yard field goal by Anthony Silva.
On its ensuing possession, Reed’s defense stopped Douglas after just three plays. And when the Tigers couldn’t handle the snap on the punt, Reed senior Cody Puryear pounced on the ball and ran into the end zone. The extra point gave Reed a 10-0 lead.
The miscue didn’t keep Douglas down, however. As soon as the Tigers got the ball back, on the first play from their own 20-yard line, senior Austin Neddenriep caught a screen pass from Williams, broke a tackle and ran 80 yards for a touchdown. The extra point kick missed, but Reed’s lead was suddenly just 10-6.
As time expired in the first quarter, Raider junior David Hibler returned a punt to the Douglas 15. A penalty moved the ball back 10 yards but it was enough for Reed’s leading rusher, senior John Covello, to then rumble 21 yards for a touchdown. Silva’s extra point put Reed up 17-6.
Before the half was up, Douglas brought the score a little closer, courtesy of a 2-yard touchdown run by junior Connor Peterson with 2:15 left. The two-point conversion failed, so the score at intermission was 17-12 with Reed leading.
Several fourth down stops helped Reed’s defense fend off Douglas, including a stop on fourth-and-1 at its own 24 to open the third quarter. On the subsequent possession, Showalter led the way with a hard 33-yard run and a long pass to junior Alex Young to set up another Silva field goal. As the final quarter began with Reed leading 20-12, the Raiders offense was stopped when senior Dennis Bartee couldn’t hang on to a pass on third down, forcing a punt. But Bartee made up for it by picking off a long pass attempt when he switched sides to play defensive back on the Tigers’ first play of their ensuing possession.
For the rest of the quarter, Reed and Douglas teeter-tottered back and forth on offense with neither side putting up any more points. With 3:19 to play, the Tigers faced a fourth-and-14 on the Reed 46 when Williams attempted a long pass down the sidelines. Junior defensive back Spencer Stockton leaped up for the interception at Reed’s 5-yard line, to the despair of coaches who told him when he returned to the sideline that he should have let it drop. The location of the pickoff led to the interception and touchdown that almost helped Douglas come back and tie the game.
After the game, Howren told his players they made way too many mistakes for a team that has played and practiced for nearly four months and is now headed to play the league’s No. 2 team, the Carson Senators.
“The amount of penalties we had and the amount of dropped balls, the things we did wrong as a program that’s unacceptable at this point in the season,” Howren said.
When the public address announcer told the crowd Carson had beaten Spanish Springs, Reed’s destination for next week was determined: an away game against the top team in the north.
“We’ve got to work on us,” he said. “We’ve got to play better football.”