After watching Spanish Springs turn a 13-10 third-quarter deficit into a 31-13 lead in just 1 minute, 57 seconds, the Reed football team didn't panic.
Instead, the defending Division I North champions stuck to their game and chipped away.
That must be what makes a championship-caliber team.
The Raiders scored 28 unanswered points of their own in the game's final 16 minutes, including two long touchdown passes from Mark Nowaczewski to Brett Chaney, and defeated the Cougars, 41-38, in a regional semifinal at Reed on a chilly Friday night.
"That's the one thing we kept saying to our guys on the sideline was, 'Guys, there's still nine minutes left in the third quarter. Just stay the course and do what you've been doing, and we'll be all right,'" Reed coach Ernie Howren said of Spanish Springs' three quick scores. "What can I say? I'm so proud of our guys."
Reed (9-3), which defeated Spanish Springs, 47-14, on Oct. 25, advances to play Damonte Ranch in the Div. I North championship game at 6 p.m. Friday at Mackay Stadium. Spanish Springs' season comes to an end at 8-4.
"It was a great all-around win by our whole program," said Nowaczewski, who completed 22-of-32 passes for 402 yards and four touchdowns. "We had the heart to finish what we started."
It was dicey for a while, though.
The Raiders had taken a 13-10 lead on a 35-yard field goal by Chris Denn early in the third quarter, but Ryder Lowry returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards to give the Cougars their first lead of the game, 17-13.
Two plays later, the Cougars stripped Chaney after he caught a swing pass, and Vance Lively scooped it up and took it in from 29 yards out for a 24-13 Cougar lead.
On the next play from scrimmage, Reed's Trae Wells caught a pass and made a couple moves to shake Cougar defenders, but a hit by Peter Riolo jarred the ball loose, and Kenny Depree returned it 38 yards to the Raiders' 10-yard line.
Three plays later, Fralick hit Lively from 9 yards out for a 31-13 lead.
Howren credited Nowaczewski and his senior-laden team for keeping their focus.
"We just had to stay within our scheme and play our football," Nowaczewski said. "We know if we play our game, no one in the North can handle us."
It helped that Spanish Springs was out of its element. Fralick completed 19-of-23 passes for 191 yards in the first half, but then the Cougars needed to run the ball and milk the clock, and neither team was able to run on this night.
Nowaczewski found Devon Gray from 26 yards out: Spanish Springs 31, Reed 20.
Ty Shepard capped a nice drive with a 1-yard TD run on Reed's next possession: Spanish Springs 31, Reed 27.
And then Chaney got behind the defense and hauled in a 43-yard pass as Reed retook the lead, 34-31, with 7:29 to play.
A second Nowaczewski-to-Chaney pass, from 52 yards, made it 41-31. The Cougars got on the board again with 48 seconds left, but an onside kick was unsuccessful.
"The effort and the attitude, that's what showed tonight," said Howren, whose team has won seven straight after a 2-3 start. "If you can keep that kind of composure in that situation, I really like our chances."