Reed chose the perfect time to finally go through the air as Aaron Greenblat’s 28-yard fourth-quarter touchdown reception helped lead the Raiders to a 30-24 Northern 4A quarterfinal victory over Bishop Manogue Friday night.
“It was huge. Manogue kept answering back and at some point offensively we had to step up,” Reed football coach Ernie Howren said. “That was huge with Aaron, Tyler and the line, providing great protection.”
The Raiders played it conservative in the first half, racking up over 150 yards on the ground while only passing it 10 times.
The Blue and Gold rode Christian Thompson before the break. Thompson scored on a 51-yard run in the first quarter and a 13-yard scamper in the second. Thompson eclipsed the century mark before the first quarter was complete.
However, the dominating run game quickly vanished in the second half and Reed’s offense was left floundering, managing just four first downs after the break.
“Inside, they started taking the game to us, and they started dominating the trenches in the second half,” Howren said of Manogue’s defense, which only gave up 30 yards on the ground in the second half.
Luckily for the hosts, they enjoyed a 23-14 edge coming out of the locker room. The Raiders’ defense was strong to that point. The Miners’ two first-half TDs came on a 32-yard run by Phillip Brahler and a 90-yard kickoff return by Kenny Rogers.
But Manogue made the home crowd nervous when a simple switch in formations switched the momentum.
The Miners had the ball on the Reed 41, needing seven yards to move the sticks on fourth down. The Sierra League’s No. 4 seed picked up the first on a 10-yard run play, and then switched to a confusing double-wing formation, where it was hard to see which of the four possible ball carriers had the ball.
Five straight run plays led to a 4-yard touchdown by Blake Bishop, cutting the deficit to 23-21 with 3:42 left in the third quarter.
Reed still couldn’t get anything going offensively, picking up two yards on its next possession.
But the defense came up big, forcing a three-and-out, only to spend a couple minutes on the sideline after watching the offense sputter for its third straight three-play possession of the half.
“Our defense has been doing it all year long. That’s what we expect out of them,” Howren said.
The football gods shined on the east Sparks school though. After Manogue started on its own 9 and drove to the 42, Ricky McDonald shanked a punt that went 16 yards, setting up the Raiders on their 42. That was the break they needed.
Tyler Pine completed back-to-back passes to Irslan Sabir for gains of six and 13 yards, sparking the offense.
A 7-yard pass to Sabir made it fourth-and-3 at the 33. Instead of having to come up clutch, the Miners gave away a first down by being called for encroachment. The very next play saw Pine throw a fade to Greenblat in the end zone for a 30-21 score with 5:35 remaining in the playoff clash.
Manogue (6-5) wasn’t done though. The Miners drove down inside the Reed 10. Needing two scores, Manogue settled for a 24-yard field goal by Dominic Gonzales.
With the score 30-24 and just 3:30 left, the Miners attempted an onside kick, but Greenblat went up high and hauled it in.
Reed (9-2) could not run out the clock though and was forced to punt after three quick plays.
Manogue got the ball back with 2:18 on the game clock and had to travel 83 yards to the end zone. That trek was cut short when, on fourth-and-5, a pass to Bishop came up a yard short.
Pine was 11-for-18 for 118 yards and two touchdowns, including a 13-yard strike to Sabir in the first half. Sabir had six catches for 62 yards, while Greenblat hauled in four passes for 55.
Pine rushed for 57 yards on 12 carries, but that was dwarfed by Thompson’s 151 yards on 26 carries. Reed had over 40 rushing attempts on the night.
“We just felt like we wanted to take advantage of things we saw on film and felt like we could run the ball,” Howren said.
The Raiders will host McQueen next Friday, a 23-20 overtime road winner over Douglas.