No. 4 Reinhardt wrapped up the Mid-South Conference Appalachian Division and a spot in the NAIA playoffs in dominating fashion with a 62-0 win at Union Saturday.
The win was the Eagles’ (9-1, 6-0) largest since 2016 and gave them a nine-game winning streak to close the regular season.
“I really think we’re getting better,” coach James Miller said in a telephone interview. “The last two weeks, we’ve really looked better. We want to keep that going on our favor. We’re getting close to clicking on all cylinders when we want to be. We still have some places we can get better, but I’m excited about where we’re headed.”
Reinhardt wasted no time in taking control of the game, as Jace Jordan scored from from 57 yards out on the first play from scrimmage to start the route.
It was the second straight week Jordan opened the game with a long touchdown run, and it provided a spark that had the Eagles ahead 21-0 after the first quarter and 45-0 at the half.
“I hope we keep doing it,” Miller said. “It gives you a boost early. It really gets us going. Obviously you try to score on every play. It’s been happening the last couple weeks, though. Hopefully we can keep that going into the playoffs.”
Jordan finished with 126 yards and two scores on five carries. M’Calun Lanier had 99 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, and Trevae Cain found the end zone to finish with 27 yards on four carries.
The biggest surprise, though, was Terry Birden, who carried the ball 10 times for 175 yards and three touchdowns.
“He’s a young kid who has struggled a little bit to pick up the offense,” Miller said. “It’s been clicking more and more as the season has progressed. He had some opportunities (Saturday), and he took advantage of them. He has tremendous speed. When he gets the ball in his hands, he can make big plays for us.”
Hunter Arters played the whole game at quarterback in place of Billy Hall, who did not practice until Wednesday because of an undisclosed injury.
“Billy (Hall) was a little banged up,” Miller said. “He hadn’t practiced a full week, and Hunter had. We just felt it was the best move. He had a great week of practice, so we decided to go with him.”
Arters was not asked to do much, though. He completed 1-of-5 passes for 15 yards, as Reinhardt gained 485 of their 500 yards on the ground.
Miller said he would have liked more balance, but he was pleased with his offense that averaged 9.0 yards per carry.
“I was happy with how we played. I thought we controlled the game up front. I know we were favorites, but we didn’t play that way at all. We had the right approach and took care of what we needed to.”
Defensive, Reinhardt was just as good.
The Eagles only allowed 121 total yards and had seven sacks, including three from J.T. Graydon, and Sydney Hamm capped the scoring with a 52-yard interception return in the fourth quarter.
“I thought we bounced back from last week,” Miller said. “They have some receivers who can make plays. We played well up front and got pressure on the quarterback, and our secondary played better.”