GRESHAM -- It was far from a masterpiece, but for the Reynolds Raiders, their 21-14 nonleague football win over visiting Roseburg on Friday night was a thing of beauty.
After blowout wins over Roosevelt and Franklin to start the season, the Raiders proved that they could get it done in crunch time by coming from behind with two fourth-quarter touchdowns and making a defensive stand to hand the Indians their first defeat.
“It just shows the maturity that we have,” senior quarterback Dominique Miller said. “The old us would have broke down in the fourth quarter, but we came together as a team. I got our guys together and I said, ‘We’re going to win this game.’”
The gutsy win at Mt. Hood Community College was just the latest example of the progress Reynolds has made under third-year coach Ryan Aldred. Last year, the Raiders got their first playoff win since 1997. Now they are 3-0 for the first time since 2005.
“We’re trying to do something special here,” Aldred said. “We’ve got components all over the football field, but what kind of character do we have? How are we going to respond when our backs are up against the wall?
“I’m proud of our effort and how they responded in the fourth quarter. It tells more about where our trajectory is than beating Franklin and Roosevelt the way we did.”
So how good can the Raiders be this season?
“Just watch us,” Miller said. “We ain’t going to say too much. Everybody knows we talk, but we ain’t going to say too much. We’ll let our play do the talking.”
Roseburg (2-1) took a 14-7 lead late in the third quarter when senior quarterback Jace Stoffal threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Carson Nix on an inside screen, then found sophomore Garrett Zeimet for a two-point conversion pass.
The situation looked especially dire for the Raiders considering their star tailback, junior Miles Wilson, was on crutches on the sideline after injuring his ankle on the first series of the third quarter.
But the Reynolds offense immediately responded by marching 60 yards in five plays to score on a stop-and-start, 25-yard touchdown run by Miller early in the fourth quarter. Wilson’s senior brother -- 5-foot-9, 225-pound Nathaniel Wilson, a standout at linebacker -- helped spark the drive with a relentless 11-yard run.
The Raiders were unable to capitalize after senior Nick Haynes intercepted Stoffal at the Roseburg 18-yard line midway through the fourth quarter, but got another break when junior Kennan Coleman made a diving interception at the Roseburg 14 with 2:36 left.
Coleman said that Stoffal “looked confused because our secondary, we locked everything up, and there was a lot of pressure. I tried to bait him a little bit.”
Reynolds tailback Emmanuel Igbonagwam, a 5-7, 175-pound sophomore, darted through the line for a 10-yard touchdown run that gave the Raiders a 21-14 lead with 2:00 on the clock.
Roseburg had a first down at the Reynolds 41 with 57 seconds left, but could get no farther. Reynolds junior defensive back Jamiyh Johnson made two key pass breakups on the final series.
The Raiders ran out the clock and celebrated the win. After losing at Roseburg 49-38 in Week 3 last year, they relished serving up some payback.
“This was our revenge game. We were angry last year,” Coleman said. “That was a huge motivation.”
In the first two games, Miles Wilson rushed for 377 yards and six touchdowns. But Friday night, with Roseburg keying on Wilson (10 carries, 64 yards), Miller called his own number more often and finished with 153 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.
“That was the gameplan,” Miller said. “My coach told me it was going to be a big game for me this week. We already know Miles – he’s the best running back in the state, in my opinion – everybody’s going to focus on him. There’s not too much film on me running the ball. I didn’t show that early. They witnessed it.”
Miles Wilson didn’t seem overly concerned about his ankle after the game.
“I’ll be back next week,” he said. “I rolled it. I tried to break it to the outside, and got caught up in a pile, and somebody fell on my ankle. It was heartbreaking for me, but to watch my team win, it was amazing.”
Said Nathaniel Wilson: “It was tough seeing my little brother go down. It’s not good, but he’ll bounce back. He always bounces back.”
Aldred had high praise for Nathaniel Wilson’s play on both sides of the ball.
“Holy smokes, I don’t know if I’ve seen a fourth-quarter performance by an individual since I’ve been doing this,” Aldred said. “Defensively, he was a wrecking ball, and offensively. He did everything for us in that fourth quarter.”
Stoffal completed 11 of 25 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions. His other scoring pass also went to Six, a 62-yarder in the first quarter that answered a three-yard touchdown run by Miller.
Six finished with three catches for 91 yards. Senior Doran Gillespie ran for 65 yards on 18 carries for Roseburg.