The Reinhardt Eagles went down 50-24 at the end of the 3rd quarter, before rallying in the final quarter of play for 21 unanswered points. LJ Stegall, after returning a kickoff in the Eagle’s début home game, rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries, including one touchdown receiving this Saturday.
Heat was immense and energy was at an all time high. The temperature wavered between 130-140 degrees atop the Eagles all turf field. Being the Eagles’ first ever home game, visitors from all over Waleska and Canton rushed to fill seats alongside the student body and faculty and staff of Reinhardt University. Blue and gold colors blanketed the stadium as Eagle pride dominated for miles.
The game began with an Eagle’s kickoff to the Lindsey Wilson Blue Raiders, which resulted in a 63 yard airborne drive that was halted by the defensive efforts of the blue and gold. Lindsey Wilson, unable to convert on a 3rdand 5 at the Eagle’s 5, were forced to settle for a field goal.
The ensuing Eagle drive was a 3 and out, followed suit by a Lindsey Wilson 3 and out displaying the early strength of both team’s defenses.
The Eagles would, however, score with their second possession of the ball in a 13 play, 71 yard drive that showcased the throwing ability of Chamblee, who completed 5 out of 5 passes to help get the Eagles in the red zone, as well as extend their drive in a few long yardage situations. Niagel Curtis recorded the first touchdown of the day when he ran the ball in from Lindsey Wilson’s 5.
The Blue Raiders’ next drive was nearly cut short, in a 3 and 6 situation after the first two plays of the series. However, quarterback Branden Cresap connected with Matt Powers for a 21 yard gain before being brought down by Eagle’s CB Christain Hill. The Blue Raiders followed this with a sweep for 11 yards and a 25 yard pass that resulted in a touchdown.
Eagles 7, Blue Raiders 10.
Lindsey Wilson continued aggressively with a successful onside kick one minute before the 1stquarter ended. A pitch and another deep ball secured another touchdown making it Eagles 7, Blue Raiders 17 when the 1st quarter concluded.
The second quarter began with Stegall nearly breaking for another touchdown before being brought down after a 27 yard return. The Eagles offense continued this momentum with a 7 play, 48 yard drive that was highlighted by a 36 yard pass from Jonathon Chamblee to Aaron “AK” Kennedy. Unable to convert on a 3 and 2 situation at the Lindsey 15, kicker Matthew Moon secured a field goal from 31 yards out.
For the duration of the second quarter, the Eagles struggled to get their offense in sync while the Blue Raiders made use of their quarterback and receiving core. With 2:49 left in the second quarter and the Eagles down 31-10, the Reinhardt offense pieced together a 79 yard drive to breathe life into the team. Once again, Chamblee made several key plays when he connected to Sam Jones to convert a second and long, and Stegall for a 38 yard Eagle touchdown. RB Deonte Dennis and Sam Jones also made some impressive runs this drive, both showcasing their cutback ability on the sweep play.
This concluded the 1st half.
Eagles 17, Blue Raiders 31.
The second half began with another, 20+ yard kick return by LJ Stegall. The Eagles’ running backs went to work, going 49 yards in three plays before an untimely fumble 23 yards from the goal line.
The Blue Raiders capitalized on this, scoring again on a 12 play, 77 yard drive. And after the Eagles fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, a Raiders defender scooped the loose ball for a touchdown making the score Eagles 17, Blue Raiders 44.
Discouraged fans were beginning to leave the stadium and the Blue Raiders were feeling comfortable until the end of the 3rd quarter neared and the Eagles’ offense and defense came together for a comeback. With 4:41 left in the 3rd quarter, LJ Stegall took a handoff for 64 yards down the Eagle’s sideline, making good use of his blockers on the run.
In the following drive, Lindsey Wilson would score their last points of the game.
The fourth quarter began with the Eagles down 26 points. With the ball in hand, the Eagles drove 68 yards to record another Reinhardt touchdown. This drive received help from the talents TE Bolden Davis, and RB TC Carter.
In the ensuing Raiders drive, Eagles CB Christian Hill forced and recovered a fumble on the first play of the series when he struck Raiders receiver, Akio Tonge.
The Eagles took this opportunity and went 78 yards to score another Eagle’s touchdown. Eagles 31, Blue Raiders 50.
The Blue Raiders, still unable to respond the Eagles turnaround, were forced to punt the ball after four plays. The Eagles would go another 70 yards for a touchdown, with receiver Sam Jones hauling in a 27 yard pass from QB Ryan Thompson.
With 3:51 on the clock and the Eagles one drive away from victory, Lindsey Wilson did their best to keep the ball away from the ferocious Reinhardt offense.
Able to convert on some 3rd down situations, the Lindsey Wilson Blue Raiders succeeded and escaped the game with a five point lead. Eagles 45, Blue Raiders 50.
The Reinhardt Eagles–the team that was just beaten by a mere three points against the Mercer Bears last week–was once again narrowly defeated by the Lindsey Wilson Blue Raiders.
Despite two consecutive losses, Eagle players and fans seem optimistic about the future of the team. A large turnout is expected at the next Eagles home game on September 28th against Bethel University.
The Eagles will play their next game on September 14th at 1:30pm against Kentucky Christian University at Kentucky Christian. More information can be found at reinhardteagles.com.
Leon Sapp & Meagan Hurley