The host Reynoldsburg High School football team shut down just about every facet of New Albany’s offense during an opening 10-9 victory Aug. 24.
One feature of the Eagles’ attack that was particularly tough to stop was junior Joe Siegenthaler, but the Raiders finally solved that puzzle as well by game’s end.
Siegenthaler, who lit up Reynoldsburg for 80 yards on just 4 rushes and also made a 38-yard reception, seemed on his way to helping the Eagles rally when he lost the ball with 1:29 remaining.
After the Raiders’ Daquian Williams knocked the ball from Siegenthaler’s arms, teammate Tyrek Pugh scooped it up.
“I was just trying to strip the ball,” Williams said. “We needed a big play.”
Pugh, despite pleading from the sidelines to go down once he had control of the ball, ran it back 34 yards. The Raiders then ran out the clock.
“That was the play of the game,” Reynoldsburg coach Buddy White said. “They had a little momentum going and were on the cusp of field-goal range. But what really excited me was that we played a full game.”
“(Siegenthaler) was just holding it too loose,” New Albany coach Mark Mueller said. “The problem is that he’s harder on himself than anybody else is. I told him that we wouldn’t have been here without him.”
The Raiders scored what proved to be the game-winning points with 7:31 remaining when Nick Hetrick hit a 27-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead.
With 4:21 to go, the Eagles made it 10-9 when Reynoldsburg quarterback Jordan Aekins threw the ball away in the end zone on third-and-18 and was called for intentional grounding.
Reynoldsburg scored its only touchdown with 7:31 to go in the first half when Aekins hit a wide-open Mykel Traylor-Bennett near the right sideline for a 47-yard touchdown catch.
The Eagles tied it at 7 with 8:11 left in the third quarter when Alan Watson scored on a 2-yard run. A 15-yard run by Leslie Anokye on second-and-8 from the Reynoldsburg 17 set up the score.
“This was a season-determinant for us,” Traylor-Bennett said. “If we had lost, it would have taken us a long time to come back from.”
R--Traylor-Bennett 47 pass from Aekins (Hetrick kick)
NA--Watson 2 run (Quillin kick)
R--Hetrick 27 FG
NA--Safety, intentional grounding in end zone