VALLEY, Ala. – Drew Cronic‘s debut as Reinhardt’s head football coach went nearly perfectly as the Eagles set numerous program records in a 73-21 win over Point Saturday at Ram Stadium.
The Eagles set the school record for points in a game (73) with Nick Marquez setting the scoring record for an RU kicker with 13 points thanks to a 27-yard field goal and 10 converted extra-point attempts. The RU defense picked off four passes, also a program record, and forced a pair of fumbles, with the final one recovered in the end zone by Jon Austin Bridges for the final touchdown of the day for the Eagles.
Reinhardt was credited with 685 yards of offense, but perhaps most surprising was the balance that the Eagles had. A team that has always been predicated on the run, the Eagles ran for 343 yards, but quarterbacks Johnathon Chamblee and Ryan Thompson combined to go 16-of-22 for 342 yards without an interception.
Point actually led 7-0 after forcing Reinhardt to punt, with the Skyhawks driving down field for the season’s first touchdown. “Point’s got some good players over there, and they’ve got a good coach as well. They have a lot of pride, and they went out there to try and win the game. Credit our guys for setling down, hanging in there, and making some plays to get control of the game.”
After Point’s opening drive, the two teams traded punts, with RU’s defense getting its first three-and-out of the season. After Point’s punt, the Eagles marched down field to tie the game, with Andy Whisenant scoring on a seven-yard jaunt to tie the game. Point would punt on its next possession, and the Eagles took the lead for good on their next drive. After a lengthy injury delay, Niagel Curtis plowed through the line of scrimmage for the go-ahead score, giving RU the 14-7 lead. RU would get an interception by Nick Johnson on Point’s next drive to give the Eagles the ball again.
With the ball to start the second quarter, the Eagles extended the lead when Chamblee hit Aaron Kennedy for a 39-yard touchdown strike. Later in the quarter, the second touchdown run of the game by Curtis made it 28-7.
One of the biggest moments in the game came on a three-play sequence in the final 90 seconds of the first half. Facing a third-down, Point opted to run a draw play and call timeout with 1:02 left in the half facing fourth down. The 50-yard field goal attempt for the Skyhawks fell well short and the Eagles took over with just under a minute left in the half. One play is all RU would need as a 66-yard pass from Thompson to Tyler Bradley gave the Eagles a 35-7 lead at the break.
Devante Wynn picked off a pass on Point’s first drive of the second half, and the Eagles took advantage with Isaiah Blake picking up his first career touchdown on a two-yard run to make it 42-7. Point would show signs of life, scoring a touchdown, then getting a fumble recovery to score a second touchdown before RU’s offense could get back on the field, making it 42-21.
The Eagles would finish the game off by scoring the final 31 points of the contest. Deonte Dennis scored from four yards out to make it 49-21 at the end of the third quarter, then after a DJ Brown interception ended the third quarter, Reinhardt marched down field again with Elliot Clark finishing the drive with a run from four yards away.
Marquez would hit from 27-yards out to make it 59-14, then with mostly second and third-team players in for the Eagles, the offense continued to roll. After a Point fumble gave the Eagles the ball inside the Point 30, Caleb Faulkner bounced a run outside for 26 yards and the offense’s final touchdown. RU’s final forced turnover resulted in the record-setting touchdown for the Eagles.
Penalties Bite Reinhardt: The Eagles had 11 penalties for 128 yards, but six of those penalties were of the personal foul variety. “We’ve got to look and see why we’re getting the penalties, because sometimes it’s kids playing hard,” coach Cronic said. “We’ve got some young guys that just have to learn because it’ll end up hurting us in the future if we don’t get that solved.”
Opportunistic Defense: Point had 454 yards of offense, but the six turnovers forced were the most in Reinhardt history. Donqual Young joined Johnson, Brown, and Wynn with picks.
Happy for Time Off: Coach Cronic is glad to have a week off before facing Kentucky Christian. “I like having the second week as an open week, because I think you make so much improvement from week one to week two,” Cronic said. “There’s so many things that you have to clean up after the first week, so it gives us time to iron out things. Kentucky Christian is going to have a really good team and we’ve got to get to work.”
The Score is Nice, But….: Reinhardt had 56 points before a litany of turnovers and plays helped Reinhardt get to 73 points late. “It kind of snowballed away [from Point] at the end,” Cronic said. “They had a couple of turnovers, and [Faulkner] popped a run there late, so 73 points is a little bit deceiving. But we did put some numbers up there, and it’s good to feel like we could move the ball.”
Happy with the Kicking Game: Marquez made all of his kicks for points, but coach Cronic was happiest with how the freshman kicked off as the game went along. “He did a great job kicking the ball deep and keeping [Point] pinned in the corner,” coach Cronic said. “To me, that was the most important thing, and he got better at that as the day went on.”