#24 Reinhardt Eagles (4-2) vs. Belhaven Blazers (2-4)
Ken White Stadium Waleska, GA
Saturday, October 19th
Kickoff @ 12:00 Noon
Homecoming football games are a well-established heritage at most colleges, but this Saturday marks the first such event at Reinhardt University. As old alums pick up on the new art of tailgating, the first-year Eagles football program is establishing another type of tradition in their inaugural season – winning.
The Eagles swoop into the homecoming contest with Belhaven atop the Mid-South Conference West Division and ranked (for the first time ever) at #24 in the NAIA polls. Coming off a bye week, Reinhardt seeks a fifth straight win. In their last contest, freshman Chris Gaines led the Eagles in rushing with 70 yards on 14 carries as RU traveled to Barbourville (KY) and topped Union. Freshman T.C. Carter also caught two touchdown passes to boost the Eagle offense.
If RU hopes to leave the homecoming crowd happy, expect RB L.J. Stegall and WR Aaron Kennedy to lead the charge on offense. Stegall has rushed for 12 touchdowns this year, while Kennedy paces the team with 21 receptions and 294 receiving yards. The dual threats help keep Reinhardt balanced on offense. Both are also dangerous return threats on special teams. RU is getting solid quarterback play. While leading a ground-oriented attack, QB Ryan Thompson has thrown for 101.4 ypg with a 61% completion rate. On defense, linebacker Jarred Johnson has accumulated 55 tackles this season with 43 of them being solos, and 2.5 as tackles for loss. Defensive end Tevin McCoy and linebacker Blake Barnes also play significant roles. The RU defense has tallied 6 interceptions in 6 games.
The Belhaven squad played its best game of the season this past Saturday, a 40-21 Mid-South Conference cross divisional victory at Bluefield College (VA). The Blazers defense forced five turnovers and the offense recorded a season high 456 yards. The defense limited the Rams to 282 yards with only 42 coming on the ground. Darrius Wren is the premier defensive player for the Blazers. On the season he has 47 tackles (28 solo), with 7 tackles for loss and 2 interceptions. He will be leading the attack to try to derail the Eagles. On offense the Blazers rely heavily on the pass. QB Darrell Williams has thrown for 791 yards this season with 5 touchdowns. His favorite target is WR Deuce Coon, who has 3 TDs and 339 yards for the year. The Blazers also have a running back they count on when needed. Laderick Turner has 3 touchdowns and 348 rushing yards this year.
The game is pivotal for both programs. A win could give Reinhardt the boost needed to start the second half of the regular season and allow the Eagles to keep climbing the national polls. But they can’t sleep on Belhaven. The Blazers are a team stacked with former Division I talent. It is probably going to be a close one, but let’s give Reinhardt the win over Belhaven – 28-17 Eagles.
Contributors – Reinhardt University Sport Studies Program Athletics and Media Relations class Fall 2013