Wins against perennial powerhouse Reed have been tough to come by in recent years, and Carson High was on the cusp of pulling off an early season upset Friday night.
A breakdown in the secondary and a turnover enabled Reed to score 13 unanswered points in the final 2-minutes 26-seconds and outlast the Senators, 47-41, in a non-league game at the Jim Frank Track & Field Complex.
The game-winning score came with 2 seconds left when Reed quarterback Cameron Emerson scrambled from 3 yards out on a third-and-goal play to snap a 41-all tie.
The loss was Carson’s eighth in its last 11 games against Reed, and it wiped out Abel Carter’s 228-yard and four-touchdown rushing performance. Carter also threw a TD pass.
“Their quarterback made a great play,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “We learned what we wanted to about our team tonight. We can’t dwell on this. We have to use this as a springboard. We are going in the right direction.”
This game followed a similar pattern. Carson had more than 400 yards of total offense and moved the ball freely. The defense, however, surrendered more than 600 yards.
Trailing 34-24 midway through the third quarter, the defense stopped Reed on three straight possessions, two of which ended in Spencer Rogers interceptions and the other ended with a punt. Carson scored 17 unanswered points in that span to take a 41-34 lead with 4:38 left in the game.
Rogers intercepted an Emerson pass in the third quarter on a third-and-16 play and returned it to the Carson 24.
Facing a third-and-16 from the 20, Carter took a handoff from Jace Keema. picked up a block from Rogers and was off to the races for an 80-yard TD run. Johnny Barahona’s PAT cut Reed’s lead to 34-31.
“The play was supposed to go outside,” Carter said. “Spencer got the block, and I cut it up.”
The legend of Carter continues to grow. In three games, he has rushed for more than 200 yards twice and scored a rushing TD in every game. He won the head-to-head match-up against Tre Bussey, who did a lot of damage inside the tackles against the Senators.
After Reed went three and out on the next series, Carson drove 69 yards for a score with Carter ripping off a 15-yard TD run, his fourth of the game. Barahona’s kick made it 38-34. It quickly became 41-34 after Rogers picked off Emerson again, this time at the 39. The theft set up a 46-yard field goal by Johnny Barahona after the drive bogged down at the Reed 19 when Keema was thrown for a 6-yard loss.
“We challenged the defense in the second half,” Roman said. “We had a tough time stopping them in the first half. The kids responded and had some big stops.”
That’s when things went south on the Senators.
The kick coverage group pinned Reed back at its own 12. Emerson completed a 12-yard pass to Michael Spivack for a first down at the 23. Carson appeared to have the drive stopped when disaster struck.
Emerson broke containment and sprinted 32 yards down the right sideline for a first down at the Carson 39. On the next play, Spivack got behind Brandon Gagnon and hauled in a 39-yard TD pass. Matt Garcia’s PAT knotted the game at 41.
“The key to the game was that third-down scramble by Emerson,” Roman said.
At that point, it seemed like the game was headed for overtime. A couple of first downs undoubtedly would have run out the clock and put the teams in a sudden-death OT situation.
Keema completed a 5-yard pass to Luke Myers out to the Carson 35. On the next play, Keema went back to pass, and Matt Johnson appeared to hit Keema’s elbow as he was preparing to throw. The ball came loose and Bussey recovered at the Carson 21 with 1:34 left.
“I think he got my elbow as I was going to throw,” Keema said. “I’ll take responsibility. I’ve got to set up quicker.”
Three runs by Bussey (29 carries, 182 yards) put the ball on the Carson 8. Robert Ferrel gained 6 down to the 2. Reed doesn’t have a field goal kicker, and when the Raiders lined up, Roman called timeout. After the first timeout, Carson seemed to have trouble lining up and Roman again called a timeout.
“I wanted to make sure we were lined up properly,” Roman said.
Emerson (319 yards passing, 67 rushing) scored on the next play to give the Raiders a thrilling win.
Carson led 14-6 on two long TD runs (44 and 42 yards) by Carter, but Reed scored on three straight possessions for a 26-14 lead late in the first half.
That’s when Roman went to his bag of tricks not once but twice to get a TD right before the half.
On first-and-10 from the 39, Keema handed off to Carter, who rolled right and lofted a 41-yard pas to Luke Myers down to the Reno 20. Five snaps later, Keema handed off to Carter and then snuck out to the left side of the field and caught Carter’s pass to make it 26-21 at the half.
“I was a little bit surprised by how wide open I was,” Keema said. “Abel held the ball the right amount. I was trying to focus on the throw.”
“I’ve never called that,” Roman said. “Teams can be so aggressive at the third level coming up on the run. You have to make them respect that (play or possibility of the play). They didn’t account for the quarterback.”