The Raiders continued to power through their opposition this season, celebrating Homecoming in a big way, a 50-2 romp over the visiting Panthers.
“We were outclassed, plain and simple,” Panthers coach Ty Gregg said. “They are a good football team and they make plays. We didn’t come close to matching them tonight. They played really well defensively and I think that’s what really set the tone. We just couldn’t get anything going offensively. They did a great job.”
Reed dominated from the start, forcing North Valleys to punt the ball away 40 seconds after receiving the kickoff.
The Raiders then took their first possession quickly down the field to put the first points of the night on the scoreboard. Reed QB A.J. Silva ran in from two yards out to give the Raiders the 7-0 lead.
The next possession for the Panthers was also short lived. They went three-and-out as the Reed defense once again gave no ground.
After a shanked Panthers punt, the Raiders took the ball at the 32-yard line of North Valleys and used the short field to their advantage to grab a 14-0 lead when Silva threw a 21-yard pass to Beau Tittensor for the touchdown.
The Reed defense quickly returned the ball to its offense, recovering a fumble on the Panthers’ first play of the ensuing drive, just 10 seconds after taking the two-touchdown advantage.
Starting again from North Valleys 32-yard line, the Raiders put three points on the scoreboard as Silva showed off his strong leg, booting a field goal through the goal posts from 40 yards away, pushing the lead to 17-0.
Similar to their last drive, the Panthers handed the ball back over to Reed on the first play from scrimmage. This time, Reed linebacker Zion Alcarion dropped back into coverage, picked the ball off and returned it 20 yards to the North Valleys’ 10-yard line.
Working once again with a short field, the Raiders were unable to convert the turnover into points as the drive stalled and Silva missed a 20-yard field goal try.
Another three-and-out for North Valleys gave the Raiders the ball back at their own 35. Reed running back John Covello bulled through the middle of the line for a 27-yard run. Reed then ran a flea-flicker that left wide receiver Devin Gray all alone behind the Panther defense for an easy 38-yard touchdown. That gave Reed a 24-0 lead, still with more than two minutes left in the initial quarter.
“Early on there, we kind of had the ball bounce our way,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said. “We had some things happen. I would like to think that our guys did a good job of creating those opportunities, but unfortunately for North Valleys they had a couple of mistakes there that kind of cost them and we were able to capitalize on them.”
And that was just the first quarter.
Reed wasted no time scoring in the second quarter either, blocking a punt to start the quarter and adding a safety to their lead as the blocked punt rolled through the back of the end zone, making the deficit 26.
With its defense thwarting any momentum the Panthers even pondered, Reed continued to take advantage of short fields.
The Raiders added three more points on a 36-yard field goal by Silva with 10 minutes remaining in the half and then scored a touchdown three minutes later on an 11-yard reception by Chad Gray. The Raiders closed out the scoring for the first half on a 2-yard run by Silva, taking a 43-0 advantage into the intermission.
The second half of the game saw much less offensive power, largely due to a running clock mercy rule.
Reed’s first drive to open the second half stalled out and Silva missed a 55-yard field goal attempt that had the distance but went wide right. The Raiders took advantage of their next possession though. With Covello punching in a touchdown from 4 yards out, Reed capped off a 31-yard drive and grabbed a 50-0 lead, putting into affect the running game clock.
North Valleys did come close to getting in the end zone twice, but the Raiders defense once again rose to the occasion, forcing the Panthers to turn the ball over on downs from within the 10-yard line both times. The only Panther points of the game came on a Reed punt when a low snap rolled between the punter’s legs and through the back of the end zone, resulting in a safety and the 50-2 final.
The Raiders’ defense closed out its dominant night with one last stand, as linebacker Carlos Pinto made a one-handed highlight-reel interception midway through the fourth quarter.
“I thought the first half we did what we had expected to do as far as coming out real fast,” Howren said. “Defensively I thought the kids executed the game plan. I’m real proud of our defense. That’s another shutout for those guys. I’m just so proud of the way they executed the game plan.”
Silva completed 20 of his 23 pass attempts for 199 yards and three touchdowns. Devin Gray and Tittensor both led the Raiders with seven catches and a touchdown each, for 88 and 73 yards respectively. Covello led in rushing with 68 yards on 12 carries.
Reed will visit Galena Friday at 7:30 p.m.