Reed players, coaches and fans can stop worrying about that. The jinx came to an end Friday night when Reed posted a 28-21 regional semifinal triumph over McQueen to earn a berth in next week's Northern Region championship game against Galena.
"This is huge," Reed football coach Ernie Howren said. "We all knew what the thing was. We didn't need to talk about it. We did mention it and we left it at that. Everybody knew what the deal was. We're all competitors."
Reed and McQueen players experienced quite the range of emotions over the final five minutes. Leading 14-13, Reed extended its lead after senior signal caller Tyler Pine capped a 75-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper. The score forged Reed ahead 21-13 and gave it what many people assumed was the final nail in McQueen's coffin.
It was not.
On the ensuing kickoff, McQueen's Cory Sharp returned the football 54 yards and set the visiting Lancers up at Reed's 43. They cashed in on the good field position. MHS QB Joe Sorgani hit Rollins Stallworth on a fade pattern in the corner of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown with 1:12 remaining in the playoff affair. Still, down 21-19, McQueen (7-4) needed a two-point conversion to deadlock the game and potentially force overtime.
Nicholas Shepard responded for the northwest Reno school and barreled into the end zone for the conversion, knotting the contest at 21-21.
Reed (10-2) could not get much going on the following possession and was forced to punt the ball back to McQueen with 40 seconds to go. That's when the Lancers' fate changed. McQueen's Richard Childers fumbled the punt return and Reed's Tallen Billings scooped up the loose ball. The Raiders' recovery set the local club up at McQueen's 19-yard line.
"It was huge. We've talked about taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves," Howren said. "They don't come up that often, especially in playoff games. So when they do, you better take advantage."
Reed didn't waste any time. On their first play after the turnover, Pine scampered across the goal line for the 19-yard scoring run and the Raiders had a 28-21 lead with 32 seconds showing on the game clock.
"Obviously, we had a few times where the ball bounced the other direction," McQueen coach Jim Snelling said. "But I'm really proud of our kids. They played hard. Both teams did. My hat's off to Reed."
Pine had a big day for Reed. In addition to completing 15 of 26 passes for 125 yards, he also racked up 104 rushing yards on 15 carries.
"We didn't really talk in practice this week about me running the football a lot," Pine said. "We just took what they gave us and the coaches made some great calls. It was just open for me."
Any last-ditch McQueen hopes at a comeback were nixed when Raiders defensive back Tom Seve intercepted a Sorgani pass over the middle on the Lancers' next play. Reed took a knee on the following play, running out the clock and securing its first regional semifinal win since 2004.
McQueen held a 13-7 lead to open the second half. However, late in the third quarter, the Raiders' defense forced the Lancers to punt from deep in their own territory. That gave the Raiders good field position, taking over at the McQueen 43. Reed went right down the field and scored on an 11-yard touchdown run by tailback Christian Thompson on the first play of the fourth quarter. Aaron Greenblat's extra-point kick was good and the Raiders led 14-13.
Thompson torched the McQueen defense, rushing for 157 yards on 18 carries. Reed wound up with 313 total rushing yards.
"They found some things that worked for them in the second half, but that's the sign of a good team," Snelling said. "They made adjustments at the half and we couldn't make plays when we had to."
Reed scored first Friday night. The Raiders grabbed a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard run by Thompson with 25 seconds to go in the first quarter. Pine set up the score with a 37-yard run on the previous play.
That lead was short-lived. McQueen tied the game at 7-7 on its third play of the ensuing possession, an 86-yard touchdown run by Shepard.
On McQueen's next drive, it put together a 65-yard march that culminated in a 7-yard touchdown run by Sorgani. Unfortunately for McQueen, its extra-point kick failed, leaving it with a 13-7 lead at the 7:11 mark of the second quarter.