The Reinhardt Eagles began their third season of NAIA Football, and first under new head coach Drew Cronic, with a convincing 73-21 victory over the Point University Skyhawks. In the previous two seasons, Reinhardt traveled to Mercer University and lost by a mere three points each time. This year, however, things were different, as the Eagles dismantled the Skyhawks and now stand 1-0 on the season.
When the Eagles Had the Ball
In its season opener, Reinhardt set a school record for most points in a game with 73. The Eagles scored 10 touchdowns on the day, and kicker Nick Marquez kicked a 27-yard field goal to add to the Eagles point total. Point did hold the lead at 7-0, but Reinhardt sophomore wide receiver Andy Whisenant found the end zone on a jet sweep to even the score. Next, Niagel Curtis would scamper into the end zone for the first of two times on the day to put the Eagles ahead, 14-7. From there, Reinhardt would never relinquish the lead.
Quarterbacks Johnathon Chamblee and Ryan Thompson both threw touchdown passes, with Chamblee throwing a 39-yard pass to Aaron Kennedy and Thompson throwing a 66-yard strike to Tyler Bradley just before halftime. The two players combined to pass for 312 total yards, with neither throwing an interception On the ground, Niagel Curtis led the rushing attack, scoring two touchdowns, while a host of other backs were able to find the end zone a single time.
In all, the Eagles utilized a balanced attack, totaling 685 yards of offense.
As for Point’s defense, their hopes of starting this year off with a strong defensive came up short. Giving up 73 total points, the Skyhawks only defensive power came from Dikembe Billingslea and Kalen Newsome. The sophomore and senior led the way with a combined eleven tackles while Nahzee Rivera was the only Skyhawk to get near Reinhardt’s quarterback, recording the only sack on the day. Point also had one forced fumble; they recovered the ball after a kickoff and proceeded to score. However, Reinhardt’s offense would prove to be too strong for the Skyhawks.
When the Skyhawks Had the Ball
The Reinhardt defense was able to stifle the offensive attack of the Point Skyhawks on Saturday afternoon. Although they gave up 454 yards, the Eagles only allowed Point to score 21 points in the contest. Four different Eagles recorded an interception, and Reinhardt also forced two fumbles. Jon Austin Bridges, a sophomore defensive lineman, recovered the final fumble in the end zone, helping Reinhardt to break its record for most points scored in a single game.
While Point was able to put 21 points on the board, the Skyhawks had too many turnovers and missed opportunities to stick in the game with the Eagles. The Skyhawks looked strong as they came out and forced Reinhardt to a quick three and out on the first drive. As they took over, a 23 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Charles Fortis to wide receiver Rodel Shorter gave the Skyhawks the early lead. In the third quarter Point put together their best efforts of a comeback as they scored two back to back touchdowns, one came on a short throw from Fortis to Ladarrius Mathis in the end zone while the other was a 40 yard pass from Fortis to Charles Duckworth. That would be the last touchdown on the day as Point had six turnovers offensively, allowing Reinhardt to run away with the game.
Keys to the Game
Reinhardt was able to run the ball, as well as use its air attack effectively against Point. Two of the Eagles’ quarterbacks threw touchdown passes, while a number of running backs, led by Niagel Curtis, crossed the goal line.
The Reinhardt defense was a huge factor in helping Coach Drew Cronic pick up his first win as head coach. The defense forced six Skyhawk turnovers on the day, with four of those six turnovers coming via interceptions, a new school record.
The Sports Studies crew has a prediction record of 1-0.
This week, the Eagles have some time off, before welcoming Kentucky Christian to Ken White Field in Waleska. Kickoff is set for 12 noon EST on Saturday, September 12th.