SPARKS — For 24 minutes, Carson High played on near-even terms with defending regional champion Reed.
Then came the third quarter, and it was one of the ugliest in recent memory.
Reed broke open a 21-19 halftime lead with 36 unanswered points en route to a 64-26 thrashing of the Senators Friday night in the non-league finale for both schools.
Carson finishes its non-league season with a 3-2 record, while Reed improved to 4-0.
“I thought we played a really good first half,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “We scored 19 points and battled them to a draw.
“My hat is off to Reed. They made some nice adjustments. They exposed some things in the third quarter. They must have had seven or eight plays (actually five) of between 40 and 50 yards in the game. When that happens, that’s going to hurt you. To be down 21-19 and look at the final score, it’s hard to believe.”
The third quarter was ugly, probably the ugliest in Roman’s tenure at CHS.
It was like Murphy’s Law; everything that could go wrong did.
Carson only had one first down, while Reed scored four offensive touchdowns on four possessions, and the defense scored when Brett Handlin picked off a pass and returned 36 yards for a score on Carson’s first drive of the second half which gave Reed a 28-19 lead.
After a three and out on the next series, Reed drove 58 yards on five plays with Jorden Carter capping the drive with an 8-yard scoring run. Jesse Brock’s PAT made it 35-19. The key plays were a 14-yard pass from Chris Denn (356 yards passing) to Trae Carter-Wells (8 catches, 172 yards) for 14 yards, and then Denn gained 18 yards on a keeper.
Carson’s next possession went nowhere, and on fourth down, back-up snapper Cody Cunningham snapped the ball over the head of punter Stefan Sobkiewicz, who couldn’t get off a kick and got back to the line of scrimmage. Carson was called for an illegal block, putting the ball at the 10.
Reed scored on the next play, as Denn hooked up with Wade Eiler (3 catches, 56 yards). The PAT made it 42-19 with 7:03 left.
After another three and out, the Raiders drove 79 yards in two plays, as Carter-Wells roared past Andrew Gutierrez to score on a 67-yard pass-and-catch play to make it 49-19 with 4:53 left.
Carson went three and out on its next possession, and Reed put together a quick four-play drive capped by a 28-yard run by Carter. The 2-point conversion made it 57-19 with 2:23 left in the third. Eiler caught a 42-yard pass play from Denn on a second-and-11 play to set up the score.
Carson drove into Reed territory on its next drive, but Handlin picked off Schafer for the second time in the game, giving the Raiders great field position at the CHS 49.
Reserve QB Jackson Gilmore faked a handoff and kept the ball for 46 yards down to the 3, and Nathan Foreman scored on the next play. The PAT made it 64-19, meaning the game reverted to running time.
That didn’t last long.
On the first play following the kick-off, Joey Thurman broke loose for a 71-yard scoring run. Sobkiewicz’s kick made it 64-26.
“I just cut back,” said Thurman, who finished with 93 yards rushing. “The offensive line did a nice job of blocking, and the safety slipped.”
It was Thurman’s second big play of the game.
With Carson trailing 7-6 late in the first quarter, Thurman took a kick-off at his own 9 and got all the way down to the Reed 10 before being dragged down.
“I didn’t see anything,” Thurman said. “He (the defender) missed the tackle and I just kept on going.”
On the next snap, Schafer (16 of 30, 193 yards) lofted a 10-yard scoring pass to Alan Cohen to give Carson a 13-7 lead with 30 seconds left in the opening quarter. Carson went for two, and Thurman’s pass was incomplete.
Reed took a 14-13 lead on its next possession when Carter scored on a 2-yard run.
The Reed kicker mis-hit the ensuing kick-off, but a Raider player alertly fell on the ball at the Carson 43. Fortunately, Carson’s defense made a stop in the red zone.
The Senators went on to put together their best drive of the game, driving 87 yards in nine plays plus two personal foul penalties on the Raiders. Nevin Elliott capped the possession with a 10-yard scoring run, his second of the game, to give Carson its last lead of the game, 19-14.
Schafer was 4-for-4 on the drive for 41 yards. He connected with Thurman for a 28-yarder on the third play of the drive.
“Garrett had that pick for a TD, but other than that I thought he played a terrific game,” Roman said.
Reed came back with an 80-yard scoring pass down the middle of the field from Denn to Jake Lehmann. The PAT gave Reed the aforementioned 21-19 lead.
That set the stage for the ugly third quarter.
Roman admitted, at least right then, that he was concerned how his team would react. With the league opener at home against Damonte next Friday night, the Senators must shake this off.
“We’ll see how they are when we watch film this morning,” Roman said. “I do feel we have a resilient group of kids.
“The most important game of the year is next week against Damonte Ranch. Everybody is now 0-0. We just have to get better.”
In a hurry.