RENO - Carson High's football season came to a disastrous and disappointing end Saturday afternoon.
Top-ranked Reed dominated in all phases of the game en route to an easy 49-0 win over the second-seeded Senators in the NIAA 4A state semifinal game at Mackay Stadium.
Carson ends its season with a 10-2 record. Reed improves to 11-1 and will face Bishop Gorman, a 56-34 winner over Liberty, in Saturday's state championship game at Damonte Ranch. The Gaels are ranked No. 8 in the country.
This was the second time this season that Carson was blanked. The Senators opened the season with a 34-0 loss to Highland of Idaho, and then clicked off 10 straight wins before being blanked by the Raiders.
"They're just a lot better team than we are," said a disappointed Blair Roman moments after addressing his team. "I'm so proud of my seniors. It's a special group of kids that I've spent a lot of time with the last four years."
Roman went on to say it was more what Reed did than what Carson didn't do. The 49 points that Reed scored probably didn't surprise anybody who followed Northern Nevada football this year, but the Raiders blanking a pretty good Carson team probably shocked a few people.
"It's a big deal (the win)," said Reed coach Ernie Howren. "There have been some people telling us that we're pretty good, but you have to come out and prove it. Once you have, it's pretty cool. I think when you play well in all three phases like we did, you're going to do pretty well.
"Unfortunately for Carson, I felt like the ball bounced our way a couple times, putting us in a better position. It's such a good team over there, but the ball kind of just went our way, so it swung it more our way."
The Raiders' front seven held Carson to 227 yards total offense, and they held Carson star Dylan Sawyers to 88 yards on 30 carries. It was Sawyers' lowest output since the Highland game. Sawyers had eight rushing plays that went for negative yards.
"I never expected us to get shut out," said Sawyers, who admitted he was sore from Reed's constant gang tackling. "I expected it to be a high scoring game, and I expected high scoring on our end."
How tough was Reed's defense? Carson made it into Reed territory just four times the entire game, and only once did Carson get into the red zone.
"We had a couple of opportunities early to get back in the game," Roman said. "We had a 15-play drive and then we missed a field goal. They had a fumble on a punt and we went backward (offensively)."
Defense and special teams made it easy for Reed's high-powered offense led by A.J. Silva, who completed 15 of 22 passes for 225 yards and five scores. What helped the Raiders' cause is that they had scoring drives of 11, 50, 49, 36 and 24 yards. Roman's emphasized early in the week was that he wanted to make the Raiders, who average 52 points a game, drive the length of the field for their scores.
The Raiders were dominant from the outset, scoring on four of their first six-half possessions, three on Silva TD passes, en route to a 28-0 halftime lead.
Carson won the toss, but deferred, giving Reed the ball to open the game, and the Raiders didn't waste the opportunity.
Reed, using its no-huddle offense, drove 80 yards in 15 plays as Silva tossed a 6-yard scoring pass to Beau Tittensor. Silva's PAT made it 7-0.
Reed converted two first downs on the drive. The first conversion came on a third-and-16 from the Carson 39. Silva completed a 30-yard pass to David Hibler for a first down at the 9. Reed scored three plays later.
Reed's next score was set up by a special teams gaffe by Carson. On fourth-and-16 from the Carson 40, punter Austin Pacheco dropped the snap and then tried to run for the first down but was stopped at the 47.
"I was trying to punt it, but I was running it too fast and I couldn't slow down enough (to punt)," Pacheco said. "I was just trying to do as much as I could."
Following a pass play, run play and penalty, Silva and Tittensor hooked up again for another score, this time from 40 yards out. Another Silva PAT made it 14-0 with 4:01 left.
Carson mounted its best offensive drive on its next series.
Starting at its own 20, the Senators drove all the way down to Reed's 9-yard line before Pacheco missed a 27-yard field goal. Carson converted one fourth-down play when Sawyers gained 10 to the Reed 34, and then Matt Nolan tossed a 19-yard pass to Chance Quilling for a first down at the Reed 13.
Reed went three and out on its next drive, but Carson failed to capitalize as Nolan's pass was picked off by Spencer Stockton at the Carson 25 and returned to the 11.
Three plays later, Broc Westlake scored from the three to up the lead to 21-0 with 6:57 left in the half.
Carson recovered a fumbled punt by Hibler at the Reed 32, but again couldn't move the ball. Sawyers was thrown for two losses and then Pacheco shanked a 2-yard punt that went out of bounds at the Reed 44.
Reed tacked on another score right before the end of the half when Silva tossed a 19-yard scoring pass to Chad Gray with 24 seconds left in the half to cap a 50-yard drive.