WALESKA - No. 7 Reinhardt was clicking on all cylinders in its final non-conference game of the season Saturday in a 49-3 win over Ave Maria at Ken White Field.
The Eagles (3-1) once again got off to a fast start and led 35-0 at the half before getting their reserves in the game to cruise to the win ahead of a matchup at Cumberlands next week.
“We played well in the first half,” Reinhardt coach James Miller said. “We stumbled a little bit coming out of the blocks in the second half, but we responded. It was good to see for sure before we get ready to play in the conference.”
The most promising sign came in the passing game, where quarterback Billy hall put together his most productive game of the season, completing 8-of-13 passes for 115 yards to go with 82 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
Brian Tillery, who also added a 36-yard punt return for a touchdown, led all receivers with 92 yards on five catches.
“Our passing game is finally starting to click,” Miller said. “I think Billy is starting to trust the offense, and we’re starting to trust him more. Obviously, we still have some places we can get better, but we are getting better every week.”
With the threat of the pass, Reinhardt was even better in the running game than usual, totaling 382 yards on 59 carries.
Finding big plays was not a problem either, as six different players recorded a carry of 10 yards or more.
“It’s still a growing process,” Miller said. “We’re still maturing as a whole group. It’s getting better, though. I think we see what it can look like when we stick to our assignments with the backs we have.”
Two of the longest runs came from M’Calun Lanier, who scored on runs of 45 and 38 yards in the first half to finish with a game-high 120 yards on 12 carries.
“My line played great,” Lanier said. “Without those boys, I can’t do it. I put in a lot of extra work on my speed, so it’s good to see it paying off.”
Montralius Mosely (five carries, 51 yards) also found the end zone twice, while Anthony Presto gained 45 yards on nine carries and Qua Stocks finished with 35 yards on seven carries with a touchdown.
Defensively, Reinhardt was just as good, holding Ave Maria 106 total yards at 2.0 yards per play and a 2-of-14 showing on third down.
J.T. Graydon had a pair of sacks, and Omari Debose came away with an interception.
Even when the Gyrenes put together a successful drive, like they did when they went 61 yards in 13 plays to open the second half, Reinhardt’s defense stiffened up inside the 10-yard line to force a field goal.
“I don’t care who you play,” Miller said. “To keep a team out of the end zone in this day and age is tough. We’re playing lights out up front. B.J. Holden just doesn’t get pushed around up there. We just have to continue to develop in the secondary and get better at linebacker.”