Douglas attempted to make it look like it would challenge the Raider powerhouse in a postponed Northern 4A semifinal tilt by scoring on the first possession of the game.
However, Reed took the lead for good with a field goal and then scored three straight touchdowns on a combined five offensive plays to grab momentum and emerge with a hard-fought 60-36 victory, setting up a Saturday showdown against Carson with a berth to the state championship at stake.
“Every time you play Douglas, you better be in for a fight. Those guys over there are so tough,” Reed football coach Ernie Howren said. “They play so hard. Their coach had a great game plan. It was just a battle on both sides. Playing a Mike Rippee team, you better be in for four quarters. That’s what they do. That’s what coach Mike Rippee brings to the game each week.”
After Douglas trekked 77 yards on 14 plays on its opening drive, capped by a 12-yard touchdown pass from Michael Nolting to running back Conner Peterson, Reed showed why it’s the most prolific offense in the North.
The Raiders stayed primarily on the ground and rumbled 70 yards in less than three minutes. Kyle Vonschimmelmann scored from 12 yards out and was virtually untouched on his run up the middle. The extra point was pushed right, leaving Reed trailing 7-6 with 3:38 to play in the first quarter.
A.J. Silva made up for the missed point after attempt, and drilled a 30-yard field goal with 3 seconds remaining in the first quarter, putting Reed in the lead 9-7.
On the Tigers’ next offensive play from scrimmage, they coughed up the ball and Reed recovered at the 17.
Two plays later, Chad Gray scored on a 10-yard touchdown run on the second snap of the second quarter to go ahead 16-7.
Midway through the second, Nolting threw a jumpball down the sideline, but Reed defensive back David Hibler, one of the shortest players on the field, went up and came down with an interception.
On the next play, Reed ran a similar route but the timing was right as Silva connected with wide receiver Devin Gray in stride and he sprinted all the way to the end zone for an 85-yard touchdown reception and a 23-7 lead.
Douglas’ next possession ended in a punt, and Hibler returned that all the way to the Tiger 11. Two plays later, Vonschimmelmann took it in from 3 yards out, making it a 30-7 game with 3:16 to go before the break.
The Raiders were poised to put away the game before halftime. After forcing another punt, the Raiders drove down to the Douglas 3. However, a false start penalty pushed Reed back to the 8, and then a busted play led to a fumble. Douglas defensive lineman Sean Jones picked it up at the 23 and he stayed in front of the caravan as he dashed 77 yards for what proved to likely be a 14-point swing.
Reed enjoyed a 30-14 edge at halftime and made sure there was no carryover effect from the Tigers’ last-minute touchdown.
Austin Polli fielded the opening kickoff of the second half off a bounce and took it the distance for a touchdown. Silva handled the kicking chores and made a 40-yard extra point following two penalties, which pushed the gap to 37-14.
The Blue and Gold still could not put the game away.
On fourth-and-4 from the Reed 46, Douglas looked like it would come up short on a pass play, but it was part of a hook-and-ladder call and Peterson found the end zone, cutting the deficit to 37-21 with 9:44 to go in the third.
Reed had another scoring drive last two plays. Vonschimmelmann set up the Raiders on the Douglas 22 with a 36-yard run up the gut, and Beau Tittensor finessed his way in for a 22-yard score. That left the scoreboard reading 44-21, 26 seconds after the Douglas touchdown.
The Tigers answered right back with a 6-yard TD reception by Nate Vonahsen.
A 49-yard field goal by Silva padded the cushion to 47-28.
Reed’s defense came through in the clutch as the Tigers appeared to have another answer on fourth down. On fourth-and-3, Douglas completed a pass just short of the goal line, but the Raiders jarred the ball loose and Jared Emerson recovered it in the end zone for a touchback.
Still, even that didn’t stop the Tigers’ momentum.
A mishandled snap on a punt by Reed, set up Douglas 25 yards out from pay dirt. The Tigers closed the gap to 11 points with 10 minutes left in the game on an 8-yard touchdown catch by Vonahsen and a two-point conversion by Peterson.
Two QB keepers by Silva that went for touchdowns in the final seven minutes helped seal the RHS victory.
Silva was 10-for-17 for 224 yards through the air and added 33 yards on the ground. Devin Gray caught five of those passes for 160 yards.
Vonschimmelmann rushed for 130 yards on 17 carries, while Broc Westlake added 81 rushing yards on eight touches. Reed finished with 525 yards of offense.
Reed will face Carson, the other undefeated team in Northern 4A play, in Saturday’s regional championship. Kickoff at Mackay Stadium is scheduled for noon.