Raiders too much for Douglas in first round of playoffs
BY JOEY CRANDALL
Nevada Appeal News Service
It took about three minutes for the Reed football team to take a relatively close game and run away with it Friday night in the first round of the Northern 4A Regional playoffs.
Coming out of the locker rooms from halftime with a 10-point lead, the Raiders drove 80 yards in two plays for a score, got the ball back four plays later and scored on a 96-yard touchdown pass on their way to a 44-24 win over the Douglas Tigers at Douglas High School in Minden.
“We hung in there through the first half and going into the second we knew we had a shot,” Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. “Those big plays just took us out of it. You’re looking at those three minutes in the second half and it was pretty much the nail in the coffin.”
There was a time early on, when it appeared that it might have been Douglas that would run away with the game.
Reed intercepted a pass deep in Tigers territory on the opening drive of the game, and settled for a 29-yard field goal by Aaron Greenblat five plays later for an early 3-0 lead.
The teams traded punts and then Douglas quarterback Tim Rudnick slipped a screen pass to Jordan Cruz at the line of scrimmage, which Cruz took 80 yards for a touchdown. Cruz picked up a nice block from Parker Robertson on the play, navigated the Raiders defense in the middle and then exploded down the left sideline for the touchdown.
Douglas’ Nico Barker intercepted a pass at the Raiders 30 on Reed’s next drive, and although the Tigers were hit with a penalty after the play, they were set up at the Reed 36.
The Tigers’ drive sputtered on a fumble and four incomplete passes, though, and Reed came back with a six-play, 78-yard drive that culminated with Casey Yocum scoring on a nine-yard run.
Douglas went three-and-out on the ensuing drive and Reed blocked the punt off the foot of Tanner Thomas. Thomas, though, scooped the ball up and scampered 30 yards to the Reed 29. Another penalty tacked on after the play, though, moved Douglas back to the 43, where the drive again sputtered.
Reed came back down the field, driving 70 yards on eight plays before Tyler Pine connected with Lennox Pierce for a 14-yard touchdown pass and the 16-6 lead.
The score stayed the same into halftime.
“We battled them pretty well in the first half,” Rippee said. “They had pretty good field position, but we stuck with them. We didn’t shut down the run like we should’ve. We’d stop them on the outside passes, then they’d run it up the middle for 30 yards. You have to shut down the run in their offense, keep them away from doing what they like. We kept it close though.”
Reed opened the second half with Christian Thompson taking the first play from scrimmage 68 yards down the sideline to the Douglas 12.
Thompson finished with 235 yards and a touchdown to lead the Raiders, who finished with 321 yards on the ground.
Pierce then took a reverse 12 yards for a touchdown and a 23-6 lead.
Douglas went three-and-out on its following drive, but suffered a big loss when leading receiver Zach McFadden was hit hard on a crossing route in the middle and was taken off on a stretcher.
“He got hit in the back and had some tingling,” Rippee said. “I think he’ll be all right, he still had feeling in his legs. I’m not a doctor, though, so we will see.”
Thomas pinned Reed at its own 5-yard line with a 42 yard punt, and Thompson was tackled for a one-yard loss, moving the ball back to the 4.
Pine dropped back on the following play, however, and hit Greenblat for a 96-yard touchdown pass and the 30-6 lead.
“Within three minutes, we gave up almost 200 yards,” Rippee said. “You can’t do that and expect to win. We had them pinned deep there and they air it out for 96 yards. That was it tonight, they made the plays and we didn’t.”
Pine finished with 268 yards through the air for the Raiders.
Douglas scored later in the quarter on a one-yard keeper by Rudnick to make it 37-12. Rudnick passed for 185 yards in the game.
In the fourth, trailing 44-12, Rudnick threw a backwards pass to sophomore Austin Neddenriep, who threw downfield to a wide-open Danny King for a 52-yard touchdown pass.
Douglas attempted an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, and Connor Dillon tracked it down in the air, but the referees ruled that the play was kick-catch interference and gave the ball to Reed.
Cruz, who finished with 147 yards on the ground, punched in a four-yard touchdown run with 32 seconds left in the game to complete the scoring.
Defensively, Douglas’ Brad Gonzales, Luis Pina-Duarte and Barker each had an interception while Gonzales also had a fumble recovery.
Cruz caught four passes for 97 yards, McFadden had four catches for 32 yards and Conner Dillon had two catches for 26 yards.
Douglas finished its year 8-3 overall.
“We have no regrets,” Rippee said. “Things just didn’t work our way tonight. Reed did a great job and we have no excuses.”