The only offensive play the Reynoldsburg football team ran in a span of 10 minutes, 20 seconds during the second half Aug. 30 against visiting Upper Arlington was an interception, a stretch that saw a seemingly comfortable 16-0 lead become anything but.
When the Raiders finally were able to sustain a drive, they flashed the talent they hope will lead them to another successful season and a return to the playoffs.
Shon Strickland’s second of two touchdown catches, a 9-yarder over the middle on second-and-goal from Michael Whatley with 2:29 seconds left, enabled Reynoldsburg to put away the resilient Golden Bears 23-9 in the season opener for both teams.
“We desperately needed a touchdown. (The coaches) called my name and I happened to be there,” said Strickland, who also caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from DiJon Jennings in the back left corner of the end zone in the second quarter. “We have a lot of perseverance. We fight through what we need to fight through to get it done.”
UA trailed 16-0 with 5:58 left in the third quarter but then used Lucas Arce’s 1-yard touchdown run, a successful onside kick and an interception by Shaun DuPont in Reynoldsburg territory to trim the deficit. Zach Yoakam’s 29-yard field goal with 7:47 left made it 16-9, but the Bears got no closer.
Reynoldsburg then went on a 10-play, 61-yard drive covering more than five minutes and ending in Strickland’s clinching catch.
“We were right there hanging with that team and we had chances. Games are usually decided on about four plays and we didn’t capitalize on all of our opportunities,” Bears coach Jeremey Scally said. “We were going to do whatever was going to give us the best chance to win.”
MarcAnthony Gray scored the game’s first touchdown on a 10-yard run midway through the first quarter.
Reynoldsburg’s defense took over from there, overcoming what could have been a costly unsportmanslike conduct penalty on third-and-11 near midfield that sustained a UA drive in the second quarter. The Bears advanced to Reynoldsburg’s 12 before a fumble was recovered by the Raiders’ Courtland Bullard.
The Raiders needed only 2:17 to cover 88 yards, a drive capped by Jennings’ touchdown pass to Strickland that made it 13-0 with 1:29 left in the half.
“We had a lot of first-game mistakes and fortunately our athletes were better than their athletes,” Reynoldsburg coach Buddy White said.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final UPPER ARLINGTON 0 0 6 3 9 REYNOLDSBURG
7 6 3 7 23
R—Gray 10 run (Goff kick)
R—Strickland 14 pass from Jennings (kick blocked)
R—Goff 24 FG
UA—Arce 1 run (pass failed)
UA—Yoakam 29 FG
R—Strickland 9 pass from Whatley (Goff kick)