RENO — Even though it was the opening game of the 2015 season, it was the most anticipated battle of the season.
After all, Carson and Reed had played in the last two regional championship games. The Raiders won both by a combined 11 points, so anybody associated with the game expected a close game.
The game didn’t live up to its hype, as the Raiders scored on their first three possessions en route to an easy 44-27 win over Carson Saturday night at Mackay Stadium.
This one was ugly from the outset, as Reed QB Matt Denn had a field day, throwing for 361 yards and four scores, including 310 yards in the first half when Reed rolled to a 41-6 lead.
“They dominated the entire first half,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “They were like a machine (in the first half). Their offense did a great job. They had three big plays in the passing game. We had to play some man-to-man because of the way they ran the ball.
“I was happy with the way we moved the ball in the first half. I thought we could have scored 21 points. Joe (Nelson) came out amped up, and he missed a couple of throws. He settled down and played well in the second half.”
Carson got into Reed territory four times in the first half, but had just Greg Wallace’s 1-yard scoring run to show for it. The other three times resulted in a missed field goal, a punt and the clock ran out of the half with the ball inside the Reed 5.
All told, the Senators gained 478 yards unofficially, which is usually enough to win a game. Reed unofficially had 581 yards, and that kind of defense won’t win you any games.
The Senators were gashed three times on the opening drive by Jorden Carter, including a 25-yarder down to Carson’s 37. On third-and-2, Denn kept the ball on a read option and raced 29 yards for a score.
Carson managed one first down on its opening drive, and then new punter Brandon Gagnon shanked a 22-yard punt down to Reed’s 36.
Two plays later, Denn threw a 46-yard bomb down the right sideline to Michael Spivack, who slipped behind cornerback Spencer Rogers. From the 12, it took Reed just four plays to reach the end zone, Carter scoring from the 2. Matt Garcia’s PAT made it 13-0 with 6:24 left in the opening period.
Carson, thanks to a 30-yard kick-off return by Elijah Fajayan, started the ensuing drive on the 43. Two runs by quarterback Joe Nelson, a 9-yard pass from Nelson to Asa Carter and a 17-yard run by Carter pushed the ball to the Reed 14. However, a block in the back pushed the ball back 10 yards, and Johnny Barahona eventually missed a 37-yard field goal wide left.
Reed struck again on the first play after the miss. Denn connected on an 80-yard TD bomb to Robert Ferrel, who beat Abel Carter. Garcia made it 20-0 with his PAT.
Reed made it 27-0 early in the second quarter when Denn and Spivack hooked up for a 64-yard TD pass to make it 27-0 with 11:49 left in the half.
After Wallace’s score, Denn hooked up with Ferrel on TD passes of 38 and 43 yards to make it 41-6.
“I just think we took advantage of a couple things in coverage and it worked well for us,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said. “I was really pleased with the kids, the way they opened the game, the energy, the tempo of the offense. I was really pleased with that.
“Defensively, giving up six points to an offense that is as strong as Carson’s offense. We got on them. For me as a coach, to be able to get on a team as good as Carson, and as well-coached as Blair Roman and the rest of his coaching staff is, you have to feel good about that.”
Reed managed just a field goal in the second half.
“Well, we just talked about it as a team,” Howren said. “We did not come out after halftime and do the things we’re supposed to do.” Roman said he can take positives away from the Senators’ second-half effort.
Carson, 0-1, plays at McQueen at 7 p.m. Friday.