The state of Florida hasn’t been kind to No. 8 Reinhardt in its brief history of games in the Sunshine State, and on Saturday against No. 4 Keiser (Fla.), the string of unwanted outcomes continued in a 42-14 loss in the NAIA Football Championship Series Quarterfinals.
The Eagles’ postseason run came to a close at 9-1 after a 14-7 deficit at halftime turned into a 28-point loss after the third quarter – a 21-7 scoring spree from the Seahawks – separated the two programs.
“Tough way to end the year,” head coach James Miller said. “We did not do the little things good enough to win the game. We are a better football team than we showed today, but I’m super proud of our kids; super proud of our coaches and staff. It has been an incredible year of highs and lows – we have fought COVID, injuries, and with everything, still had a great year.
“I’m a proud coach, as these young men made so many sacrifices every day. We need to finish in classroom because we have everyone back and we have unfinished business.”
Keiser was able to strike first with a short touchdown run after a 62-yard drive seven minutes into the NAIA postseason battle. Reinhardt struck quickly just three plays later as Billy Hall found Dylan Kelly streaking down the sidle line to tie the score at 7-7 with 6:43 left in the first quarter.
From there, however, the Eagle offense was inconsistent the rest of the way while the defense – who caused two turnovers in the opening half – tried its best to keep one of the nation’s best young teams within arm’s length.
The Seahawks, who fumbled right before halftime deep in Reinhardt territory, came out with a vengeance in the third stanza and flew away from the Eagles with three touchdowns in just over 5 minutes of play for a 35-7 cushion with 9:39 left in the third quarter.
The hometown squad wouldn’t give up and got back on the scoreboard compliments of a Brody Dorfman 21-yard pass from Hall. The visitors then surprised Keiser with an on-side kick, which was recovered by James Hardy.
Reinhardt appeared to be grabbing momentum – and potentially get back within 14 points – but Hall was intercepted in the end zone for a touchback.
The Seahawks wouldn’t look back, as they added a touchdown run late in the game to advance to the NAIA semifinals against Lindsey Wilson (Ky.).
Keiser outgained Reinhardt 518-321 with a balanced attack. Individually, Hall finished with 183 yards passing with two touchdowns, but three interceptions.
Reinhardt ran for just 138 yards in the loss.
Sebastian LeGarra had a solid day on defense with 11 total tackles, and he was joined in double-figure stops by Jalen Everett with 10. Kenneth Lowery added nine.