It’s easy for the Raiders’ defense to be overlooked when the offense is known for racking up points. But Friday night was the defense’s time to shine.
“I’m pleased with the offense answering the call in the second half, but if you look at it, the defense was what held Hug to three points,” Reed football coach Ernie Howren said. “They understood what the game plan was and they played with a ‘get-after-it’ type attitude.”
After dominating all but the first drive in the first half, the defense didn’t skip a beat after the break.
On the opening drive of the second half, Hug’s 6-foot-7 wide receiver Tre Johnson slipped and caught a 31-yard pass lying on his back at the Reed 18. Like the first half, Hug found it increasingly difficult to move the ball once it broke into the red zone.
A holding call and sack pushed the ball back to the 34. The Hawks gained four yards on second down, but an incomplete pass made it fourth-and-22.
Hug decided to go for it and it led to a loss of 15 yards when quarterback Aj Bennett got thrown down for a sack, which set up Reed’s 55-yard scoring drive to go up 14-3.
The Raiders got down to the 16. On second down, Brandon Mondragon ran a quick 5-yard pattern, caught a Tyler Pine pass and did the rest of the work, scoring on the 16-yard pass play.
Pine didn’t have to do much against the Hawks. The senior QB completed 8 of 13 passes for 91 yards. Aaron Greenblat scored a 6-yard touchdown with 6:38 to play in the first quarter for the game’s first score.
Reed’s third of four three-and-outs on the night set up a 56-yard scoring drive, capped by a 6-yard Christian Thompson touchdown run to push the lead to 21-3 with 1:45 left in the third quarter.
Thompson ran for 121 yards on 15 touches and averaged over eight yards a carry in the second half.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, Mondragon scored on a 4-yard end-around for the final 28-3 margin. Reed trekked 65 yards in less than two minutes for the score.
After the Raiders’ initial scoring drive of the game, Hug answered back. The Hawks rammed it down Reed’s throats with 10 straight runs that moved the ball from the Hug 16 to the Reed 18.
The Reno school got to the 15 on a screen pass to Johnson, but that was as close to sniffing the end zone the Hawks would get all night. After racking up 67 yards of offense, Hug settled for a 34-yard field goal by Aaron Serrano with 48 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Despite Reed’s shortcomings on offense and special teams in the first half, the defense maintained the early lead, holding Hug to just 55 yards of offense the rest of the first half, and 36 of those yards came on two plays.
The Hawks owned a significant edge in time of possession in the first half thanks to a muffed punt and an interception by Johnson at safety. But the score never changed and Reed went into the locker room with that same 7-3 edge.
Not only did Reed’s defense force a pair of three-and outs in the first half, but after Hug took over at the Raiders’ 32 following the muffed punt, Reed stopped the home team on fourth-and-2 to get the ball back at the 24.
After throwing just five times for 25 yards in the first half, Bennett was relied upon more in the second half, completing 8 of 19 passes for 124 yards through the air. Reed’s AJ Kossol picked off Bennett once.
Hug only had 29 yards on the ground in the second half after eclipsing 100 yards as a team in the first 24 minutes.
“Hug’s a good football team. They’ve got some guys over there with speed and size and they play tough-nosed football,” Howren said. “To get another league win like this in their house is huge.”
Reed (5-2, 3-0 HDL) looks to remain perfect in league play when it returns home for the first time in three weeks. The Raiders host Reno Friday night at 7:30 p.m.