Nathan Barko and J.J. Cooper had tried the play before, but with no success.

Nathan Barko and J.J. Cooper had tried the play before, but with no success.

With less than six minutes left in the season opener Aug. 26, Cooper, a senior wide receiver for the Reynoldsburg High School football team, broke free behind the New Albany defense and got open to catch the winning 68-yard touchdown pass from his quarterback as the host Raiders held off the Eagles 35-28.

"We had tried to run it once before and their defensive line got great penetration so (Barko) did not have enough time," said Cooper, who caught five passes for 134 yards. "We just came back to it and it worked. It worked big-time. Their cornerbacks were playing too far off, and we are too athletic not to take advantage of that."

New Albany drove to Reynoldsburg's 11-yard line in the final minute, but quarterback Paxon Hunter's pass to the end zone fell incomplete on fourth-down and 7.

Savon Pullie blocked two punts to spark the Raiders in the first half, one of which was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown by Tyler Britton. Barko ran for a 1-yard score and threw a 13-yard touchdown to Jordan Hay in the final minute of the first half for a 28-14 lead.

"We are not sharp yet. We had some self-inflicted wounds, but we will work those out," Reynoldsburg coach Buddy White said. "We want their next mistake to be a new mistake so we can fix those, not keep fixing the same things."

The loss spoiled an outstanding effort by New Albany running back Victor White, who rushed for 313 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries. He scored from 62, 6, 21 and 59 yards.

White's last run capped the Eagles' rally from a 28-14 halftime deficit and tied the game with 6:13 left.

"That kid is special," New Albany coach Pat Samanich said. "It was a tale of two halves. We were up early and we got down. Every strength of this team is about its chemistry. We just went one play at a time and came together. Our defense had some big plays in the second half, but (Reynoldsburg) played lights-out."


Team 1 2 3 4 Final NEW ALBANY
7 7 0 14 28 REYNOLDSBURG
0 28 0 7 35

NA-White 62 run (Shirk kick)

R-Barko 1 run (Wooddell kick)

NA-White 6 run (Shirk kick)

R-Frederick 2 run (Wooddell kick)

R-Britton blocked punt recovery in end zone (Wooddell kick)

R-Hay 13 pass from Barko (Wooddell kick)

NA-White 21 run (Shirk kick)

NA-White 59 run (Shirk kick)

R-Cooper 68 pass from Barko (Wooddell kick)