6A FOOTBALL: Raiders stop Gresham cold in 43-6 win to earn spot in third-place game

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Reynolds lineman Kieran Johansen closes in on Gresham QB Michael Regan at the goal line.

Mount Hood Conference

Team Score

The Reynolds football team boosted its playoff chances with a resounding 43-6 win at Gresham on Friday night.

Trailing 23-6 late in the third quarter, Gresham tried to climb back into contention when QB Michael Regan hit receiver Quintin Clark for a first down over the middle that moved the ball across midfield.

The Reynolds defense slammed on the brakes from there.

Actually, they shifted the Gophers into reverse.

Six consecutive plays resulted in a loss of yardage.

"We got that spark and everyone was locked in," Reynolds lineman Kieran Johansen said.

Johansen and Nathaniel Wilson crashed through the line for back-to-back sacks to force a punt.

Reynolds took possession and handed the ball to senior running back Keedin Branch three straight times. He gained 61 yards on those three carries, capped by a touchdown dash that saw him shed a tackle between the hashmarks before swerving left and sprinting for the end zone.

"We came to play a physical game," Branch said. "I saw the open lane, so I took it."

Gresham got pinned deep in its own territory after the ensuing kickoff and went backward once again.

This time linebacker Brendon Lynch broke through and stopped the Gresham ball-carrier in the backfield, followed by Johansen crashing through for another sack — this time for an 8-yard loss that had the Gophers punting out of their end zone.

Reynolds took advantage of a short field, expanding its lead to 37-6 when QB Dominique Miller launched a pass over the left side that saw receiver Nick Haynes cut behind his defender to make the 25-yard touchdown catch.

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Reynolds running back Keedin Branch moves around the corner for a first down.

Reynolds (5-3) hosts Barlow (6-2) in the Mount Hood Conference's third-place game at 7 p.m. Friday with the winner earning the league's final guaranteed spot into the 6A playoffs. The loser of that game is likely to still qualify as a wildcard team.

"We'll be ready for next week. Barlow is a good team, but we can give them something," Johansen said.

The Raiders found the end zone three times in the first quarter, highlighted by Branch's 76-yard fumble return. A defensive safety put Reynolds in charge 23-0.

Gresham's only points came when Regan hit tight end Ethan Evans with an 81-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.

That play accounted for all but one of the Gophers' total yards for the game.

The Reynolds defense dropped Gresham's ground game for minus-37 yards and prevented the Gophers from converting a third down on any of their 14 tries.

Branch led the Raiders with 127 yards on 14 carries, while Wilson led the defense with five stops behind the line of scrimmage.

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This story is slated for our Tuesday, Oct. 29, print edition.

— - MHC football

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