The Reynoldsburg High School football team wanted to make sure last week’s 35-point loss to Pickerington North did not define its season.
The Raiders hope their 13-2 win at Lancaster on Friday, Oct. 7, does.
Reynoldsburg benefited from five Golden Gales turnovers, including a fumble by their freshman quarterback on what appeared to be a certain 67-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, in a 13-2 victory that kept alive their hopes of their first postseason appearance since 2001.
“We talked all week that we had to bounce back,” Raiders quarterback Jordan Aekins said. “We just had to come out, execute and get the job done. That loss to Pickerington North (41-6 on Sept. 30) was not us. We had to show people, and we had to show ourselves, that it was a fluke.”
Junior defensive back Grant Coleman made two interceptions of Lancaster quarterback Alex Butsko and recovered a fumble forced by senior safety Jimmy McKean that saved a Gales touchdown. Butsko ripped off a 62-yard run to Reynoldsburg’s 5-yard line before McKean and Coleman caught up to him.
“It was a blessing to be right there,” said Coleman, whose second interception came near midfield with 4 minutes, 33 seconds left. “All that hustle paid off. I saw the quarterback getting away from us and I knew I had to give all I had just to catch. Then Jimmy got the ball out. That was a huge play. We definitely needed that. (It was a) huge momentum shift.”
Lancaster finished with 174 total yards.
“The defensive coaches had everything set up pretty well. That’s what kept us in the game. They seemed like they were right where they were supposed to be all the time,” Raiders coach Buddy White said. “It’s really hard talking about an individual player because a lot of times, (Butsko) had to get rid of the ball just because of our pressure. Grant happened to be in the right place at the right time and made a few plays.”
The Raiders played without running back Kumar Collins, who missed the game because of turf toe. But they still amassed 265 yards, including 194 in the first half. Reynoldsburg had 167 yards rushing as senior Dreshan Thomas, usually a receiver and defensive back, had a team-high 111 yards on 24 carries.
“It was all hands on deck. We even had to have a few defensive players ready to go,” White said. “The key thing was we held on to the ball. We couldn’t make turnovers like last week. But we put an emphasis on that and they responded well.”
Aekins threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Mykel Traylor-Bennett late in the first quarter and added a 9-yard scoring run midway through the second for a 13-0 lead. Lancaster adjusted its defense in the second half, but Reynoldsburg’s defense constantly snuffed the Gales, who are without seven starters and played a handful of freshmen in prominent roles.
Butsko is the first freshman to start at quarterback for Lancaster in coach Rob Carpenter’s 14 seasons.
The loss probably ends any of Lancaster’s playoff hopes. The Gales, who entered the game 14th in Region 3, fell to 3-4 and 1-3. They visit Pickerington North next week.
The Raiders, who defeated Lancaster for the first time since both teams joined in the OCC-Ohio Division in 2008, entered the game 16th in the region. They play host to Groveport on Friday, Oct. 14.
“The words ‘must win’ were said more than once this week,” Coleman said. “We’ve got a good shot at the playoffs. Our season hasn’t been determined yet. There’s still stuff up in the air.”
Reynoldsburg 7 6 0 0 -- 13
Lancaster 0 0 2 0 -- 2
R--Traylor-Bennett 10 pass from Aekins (Hedrick kick)
R--Aekins 9 run (run failed)