Starting its second consecutive possession deep in Westerville South territory early in the third quarter, the Reynoldsburg football team made sure not to let the opportunity pass it by Sept. 27 in a matchup of unbeaten teams.
As the Raiders did throughout much of the contest, they got the ball to senior wide receiver Shon Strickland and watched him make a game-changing play.
A 23-yard touchdown pass from Michael Whatley to Strickland gave Reynoldsburg a three-score lead and the Raiders went on to earn a 35-14 victory to improve to 5-0.
Strickland finished with eight receptions for 159 yards and two touchdowns against the Wildcats, who dropped to 4-1.
“It felt great,” Strickland said. “It’s just exciting when they call my name for that fade route and I get that ball.”
The Raiders led 12-0 at halftime and got a fumble recovery by Breyon Eddings on a bad snap on a punt attempt at the South 3 on the first possession of the third quarter but were stopped for no gain on three plays and threw incomplete on fourth down.
Three plays into South’s ensuing drive, quarterback Brayden White was intercepted by the Raiders’ Isaiah Thomas at the Wildcats’ 35. Strickland scored three plays later for a 20-0 lead with 6:53 left in the third quarter.
The Raiders got a fumble recovery by Robert McClain at the South 6 on the Wildcats’ next possession and scored three plays later on a 1-yard run by Whatley to extend their lead to 28-0.
South’s Kaden Saunders returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and the Wildcats cut it to 28-14 with 1:04 to go in the third quarter on a 14-yard pass from White to Javi’er Wills, but that would be as close as they would get.
White entered the game at quarterback early in the second quarter after starter Peter Pedrozo left with what South coach Matthew Christ said was a collarbone injury and did not return.
“We put a major focus on our defense because we determined we were going to play hard and play well, especially on the defensive side of the ball,” Raiders coach Buddy White said. “Our kids were very physical tonight.”
With 10:32 left in the second quarter, Whatley threw 6 yards to Andree’ Mock on a bootleg to give the Raiders a 6-0 lead.
The Raiders made it 12-0 with 47.9 seconds left in the opening quarter when Dijon Jennings threw a fade that Strickland leaped to catch in the left side of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown.
South’s Michael Mansaray, who entered the game with 16 touchdowns, rushed for 95 yards but was held without a touchdown and suffered an ankle injury early in the fourth quarter.
“I’m really proud of our effort,” Christ said. “Obviously, losing our quarterback in the first quarter doesn’t help, but no excuses. Reynoldsburg made a lot of big plays.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final REYNOLDSBURG 0 12 16 7 35 WESTERVILLE SOUTH
0 0 14 0 14
R—Mock 6 pass from Whatley (kick blocked)
R—Strickland 4 pass from Jennings (pass failed)
R—Strickland 23 pass from Whatley (Slaughter run)
R—Whatley 1 run (Mock pass from Whatley)
WS—Saunders 90 kickoff return (kick failed)
WS—Wills 14 pass from White (Wills pass from White)
R—Bullard 4 run (Goff kick)