After watching McQueen rally from a 17-point second-half deficit to knot the contest, the Raiders finally sustained a drive and it proved to give Reed the go-ahead score and a 31-24 triumph in the prep football conference clash.
After McQueen (1-4, 0-1 HDL) pulled into a 24-24 tie on an 11-yard touchdown run by Delon Bencio with 5:33 to go in the game, the Reed offense responded with its best drive of the night. The Raiders didn't get any help on the kickoff return as they were forced to start on their own 9-yard line.
However, Reed (3-3, 1-0) was unfazed. Raiders running back Ty Shepard got the first two carries of the drive and he ripped off runs of 13 and 14 yards. He finished with 126 rushing yards on 12 carries.
Soon after, Reed quarterback Mark Nowaczewski connected with Brett Chaney for a 34-yard gain. Finally, the drive was capped by a 6-yard touchdown run on a QB keeper by Nowaczewski.
"We had to play good team football," Reed coach Ernie Howren said. "We needed our defense and special teams to step up because our offense was not playing well ... But when we needed it, our offensive line did what we needed it to."
The key score forged Reed on top by the final 31-24 margin. McQueen was left with 3:37 on the clock as it looked for a potential game-tying score. It never came. Reed safety Austin Warner intercepted McQueen quarterback Tyler Fritsen at the Lancers' 29. It was the Lancers' fifth turnover of the league affair.
Reed proceeded to salt away the final minute off the clock and got out of northwest Reno with a pivotal league victory.
"Our defense did a good job but the bottom line is this is a team effort," McQueen coach Jim Snelling said. "You have to play all three phases and we're making too many mistakes to win games. Turnovers killed us. You can't commit that many turnovers against a good team like Reed."
The Raiders looked ready to roll early in the second half. Not many teams walk off the MHS campus with a win, but Reed built a 24-7 lead after the first play from scrimmage of the second half. On that play, Shepard broke loose for a 65-yard touchdown run. It capped a burst of 24 unanswered Raider points.
But that's about the time McQueen found an answer. The Lancers began to claw their way back into contention. It started with a 36-yard field goal at the 6:27 mark of the third quarter to make the scoreboard read 24-10.
McQueen dominated the third quarter. Reed ran only four plays in the 12-minute stretch. The host Lancers got a 3-yard TD run by Lucas Weber on the first play of the fourth quarter, trimming Reed's lead to 24-17.
On its next two possessions, Reed was forced to punt and turned the ball over on downs. That set the stage for McQueen's game-tying TD by Bencio.
The Lancers had the momentum early. Neither team scored in the first quarter, but McQueen broke the scoreless tie with a 7-yard touchdown fade pass from Fritsen to Nick Agliolo with 7:52 to go before halftime.
McQueen looked to be driving for a second score, but Reed linebacker Drew Bryant stripped a Lancers ball carrier and bolted 63 yards in the other direction for the Raiders' first touchdown of the night. That came at the 4:54 mark of the second quarter.
The 7-7 deadlock was short-lived. On the following kickoff, Reed forced another McQueen fumble. This time the loose ball was scooped up by Reed's Marty Hargrove and he returned it 31 yards for a go-ahead Raiders touchdown.
After struggling to score throughout much of the half, Reed had two touchdowns in a 16-second span.
For good measure, Reed extended its edge to 17-7 by halftime after placekicker Chris Denn booted a 34-yard field goal with 1:34 left on the first-half clock.
"They'd hit on a big play when they needed to," Snelling said. "Reed has a good football team. We're just making too many mistakes to win games. It's tough because we've been right there in all four of our losses. We've been tied or ahead in all of them, but can't close the deal. I've never been here before, 1-4, but we've got to stay positive. We'll go back to the drawing board and try to fix it."
The road win against a perennial regional power was big for Reed. The Raiders rebounded in fine fashion from a heartbreaking loss at Carson a week earlier, a game that ended on a controversial Carson TD catch on the goal line on the final play of the game.
"This is a big win and because it's a league win and it's at McQueen, it's just huge," Howren said.
The Raiders return to action Oct. 5 against Hug. It will be just Reed's second home game in the first six weeks of the fall campaign. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.