Kentucky Christian Knights (0-1) at Reinhardt Eagles (1-0)
Ken White Field, Waleska, Georgia
Saturday, September 5, 2015
Kickoff at 12 noon EST
Written by: Kraig Doremus and Tyler Pineda
Coming off a bye week, head coach Drew Cronic and his Reinhardt Eagles welcome the Kentucky Christian Knights to Ken White Field in Waleska, Georgia. In its season opener, Reinhardt defeated the Point Skyhawks 73-21, on the Skyhawks home turf in Valley, Alabama. Kentucky Christian enters the contest against the Eagles with a record of 0-1, falling to Duquesne University 47-7 on Labor Day weekend
This is the third meeting between the Knights and Eagles. In 2013, Reinhardt defeated KCU 19-14, for the first victory in program history. The following year, the Knights got revenge on the Eagles, winning by a score of 31-21. Expect this matchup to be tightly contested, as Reinhardt looks to remain undefeated on the young 2015 season, while the Knights search for their first victory.
When the Eagles Have the Ball
Johnathon Chamblee and Ryan Thompson should share time under center for the Eagles. In week 1, both quarterbacks saw action, with Chamblee receiving the starting nod. Chamblee threw for 180 yards in Reinhardt’s opening game, while Thompson threw for 167. Both quarterbacks delivered touchdown passes, helping the Eagles set a record for the most points in program history with 73. Against the Knights, Chamblee and Thompson will look to receivers Tyler Bradley and Aaron Kennedy. Bradley led the team with 91 receiving yards in week 1, while Kennedy, who also returns punts for the Eagles, had 67.
On the ground, Reinhardt will rely on the legs of Niagel Curtis. A senior from Adairsville, Georgia, Curtis carried the ball 15 times for 69 yards in Reinhardt’s season opening win. He has one touchdown on the season and is averaging just under five yards per carry. Additionally, freshman Isaiah Blake will likely see time in the Eagle backfield. In his first game as an Eagle, Blake carried the ball eight times, gaining 54 yards.
Kentucky Christian’s defense will look to Junior Aaron Cooper and Sophomore Cedric Legette. Cooper, the 6’4” 225lb Linebacker out of Mayfield, Kentucky is a former transfer from Eastern Kentucky who comes in this week with 8 tackles while defensive back Legette leads the team with 9 stops. Leggette, out of Florence, South Carolina, transferred in from Florence Darlington Tech. The Knights are known for their defense, previously ranking eighth in the nation, allowing only 283 yards per game. Last year, Kentucky Christian’s defense gave up a combined 275 points, and head coach Steve Barrows enters his second season looking for a similar effort from the Knights.
When the Knights Have the Ball
Defensively, Jacob Gross, a sophomore linebacker and Marcus Miller, also a sophomore, will lead the Reinhardt Eagles defense against Kentucky Christian. Gross compiled nine tackles in Reinhardt’s opening game, with seven being unassisted. Miller tied for second in tackles with eight. Five of his eight tackles were solo stops. In addition, the Reinhardt secondary will look to continue its strong start to the 2015 season, as they attempt to stop the Kentucky Christian offense. In the season opener, four different players intercepted passes for the Eagles.
This year, the Knights are led by team captain redshirt Senior Quarterback Graham, transfer running back Deandre Riddick, and Gregory Walker II, a running back transfer from Atlanta Sports Academy. Johnston helped the Knights finish fourth in the East division of the Mid-South Conference. Johnston is a double threat quarterback who is familiar with the Knight’s Pistol Offense. Walker proved a solid addition to the offense by rushing for 65 yards against Duquesne University on September 5th while Riddick should contribute on kickoff and punt returns. In 2014, the Knights were ranked 2nd in the nation on third down conversions and 19th in fourth down conversions. In addition, the Knights averaged 283 yards per game last season.
Keys to the Game
Against Point, Reinhardt’s defense forced a record setting six turnovers, with four interceptions. In order to be victorious, the defense must continue to be successful, forcing turnovers and putting a stop to the Kentucky Christian offense.
The Reinhardt defense must stop the Knight’s dual-threat quarterback, Graham Johnston. The Eagles must stop the Knights on third down, as the Knights ranked second in the nation in 2014 on third down conversions.
In week 1, Reinhardt (a team that is known for relying heavily on its run game) used a balanced attack to defeat the Point Skyhawks. Look for the Eagles to continue the same approach, featuring both quarterback Johnathon Chamblee and running back Niagel Curtis.
Both the Eagles and Knights look to come out victorious on Saturday afternoon. The Eagles hope to take their record to 2-0, while the Knights seek to even their record at 1-1. Kickoff is set for 12 noon EST on Saturday, September 12, 2015 from Ken White Field in Waleska, Georgia.
Prediction: Reinhardt 38 Kentucky Christian 31
Coach Greg Blue, Reinhardt’s safeties coach, was the defensive coordinator for Kentucky Christian in 2014, during which he led his defense to a fourth overall ranking among NAIA schools.