L.J. Stegall scored from 1-yard out on a toss sweep around the right side of the offensive line with 15 seconds remaining in the game, completing the 19-14 comeback and capping a flurry of scoring in the fourth quarter.
Kentucky Christian (1-2) scored with 2:11 remaining to go up 14-13. On the ensuing kickoff, Reinhardt’s Travis Nunley — who had fumbled a return in the first quarter — returned a pooch kick 25 yards to the Eagles’ 46. With the Reinhardt offense quickly going to work, the march down field took just under 2 minutes.
Kentucky Christian got off one final play, but Reinhardt (1-2) recovered a fumbled lateral to end the game.
Reinhardt coach Danny Cronic said the meaning of the first program win wasn’t on his mind.
“I didn’t think of all those things,” Cronic said via phone during the Eagles’ bus ride home to Waleska. “I was just so proud of those kids coming back at the end. They have played well, and we just played so much better (Saturday), defensively. That was our poorest offensive outing, but I think our best defensive team.”
Unlike the Eagles’ two previous games, they were the first to strike. Midway through the first quarter, Deonte Dennis broke free for a 79-yard touchdown run that put Reinhardt up 7-0.
Kentucky Christian responded with a touchdown in the second quarter as Jamuel Jones scampered for an 8-yard score. The kick was good and knotted the score at 7-all.
After a scoreless third quarter, Dennis put the Eagles on the board again. Behind a solid push by the offensive line, the sophomore from Rome scored on a 1-yard carry, but a muffed snap on the point-after attempt left the score 13-7 with 6:51 left in the game.
On the ensuing possession, the Knights (1-2) made the Eagles pay for the missed point after, but if anything, they scored a little too quickly. With 2:11 remaining, Lane Knost caught a 14-yard pass from second-string quarterback Shaun Jones, and Kentucky Christian took a 14-13 lead when Drew Slikker added the point-after.
The Eagles’ offense continued to outpace its opponent. Reinhardt put up 333 yards to Kentucky Christian’s 262, led in rushing yards (244-180) and yards per carries (4.2 to 3.2).
Unfortunately, Reinhardt also dominated in penalty yards. The Eagles had 11 penalties for 136 yards, while the Knights were penalized just 83 yards.
Dennis led Reinhardt from the ground with 117 yards and two touchdowns.
Cronic said the road trip featured a lot of firsts for the team, including the first hotel stay for the players. They’ll quickly get used to the road, with a trip to face Faulkner next week in Montgomery, Ala. Two weeks after that, following a home game with Bethel, it’s a trip back to Kentucky to face Union.
“For more than half our team, this was the furthest away from home they had ever been,” Cronic said. “It is an educational process. They will remember this, and I will remember this. It was a special day.”