No. 7 Reinhardt established itself as the early favorite in the Mid-South Conference Appalachian Division Saturday night with a 27-10 win at No. 13 Cumberlands.
It was the fourth straight win for the Eagles (4-1, 1-0), who took the lead for good in the second quarter.
“That was a big win,” coach James Miller said in a telephone interview. “We had to go into that hostile environment. We saw a lot of good things. That was a good team. I think we’ll see (Cumberlands) again during playoff time.”
The Patriots (5-1, 0-1) looked primed to claim their sixth straight win to open the season when they capped a seven-play, 87-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Josiah Robbins to Brandon Stuckey for a 7-0 win.
It did not last long, though, as Montralius Mosely took a handoff 81 yards on the first play of the ensuing drive to tie the game at 7-all.
“Mosely is a special player,” Miller said. “It just seems like whenever we need a big play, he makes it for us. He’s so fast on the field. He seems like he can always provide that spark we need to get going.”
Mosely also scored from 12 yards out in the second quarter and 10 yards out in the third to finish with three scores and 151 yards on 12 carries.
The Eagles had their usual top-ranked rushing attack working with 370 yards on 59 carries, but it did not have its usual balance.
Instead, Billy Hall was the only other Reinhardt player to rush for more than 30 yards, finishing with 96 yards on 12 carries to go with 73 yards through the air on 4-of-9 passing.
“Billy looked really good,” Miller said. “He’s a playmaker for us. People don’t know it, but he’s one of the fastest players on our team. When he gets in the open field, he can do a lot. We try to get that as much as we can.”
While the Eagles continued to grow their lead over the final three quarters, their defense made sure Cumberlands did not get back into the game.
After giving up more than 12 yards per play on the early scoring drive, Reinhardt held Cumberlands to just 2.2 yards per play the rest of the game.
Roswell native Milton Shelton had some success for the Patriots, finishing with 85 yards on 18 carries, but the rest of the offense combined for minus-12 yards on 16 carries.
“After that touchdown drive, we knew our defensive line had to play better,” Miller said. “We talked about it and realized it was what we were doing, not what they were doing. We just refocused and played a lot harder after that.”
An energized defensive front pressured Robbins throughout the second half, holding him to just 11-of-20 passing for 121 yards.
Pat Amara got an interception, while Casimir Isles and J.T Graydon each had two sacks and Trey Teasley had one.
“The defense made big plays again,” Miller said. “They were mad about how the game started and really didn’t give up much else the rest of the way. That’s what we want to see. They had that intensity and that edge for sure.”