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NAIA Football: No. 1 LWC falls to No. 8 Reinhardt 42-24

Next: Lindsey Wilson hosts Campbellsville University on Saturday, October 31, 2015, as the Blue Raiders host Campbellsville (KY) in the Battle of Highway 55 at Blue Raider Stadium, 928 Russell Road, Columbia, KY.

By Chris Wells

WALESKA, GA (24 Oct 2015) - Top-ranked Lindsey Wilson football suffered its first loss of the season on Saturday, falling to No. 8 Reinhardt (GA) 42-24 in the NAIA Game of the Week at Ken White Field.

Despite playing well at times, both offensively and defensively, Lindsey Wilson struggled to put the two facets of the game together during similar stretches resulting in the first regular-season loss in its last 13 games.

The Lindsey Wilson offense proved to be efficient early, scoring on two of its first three drives of the game. While the Blue Raiders (6-1, 1-1 in the Mid-South Conference West Division) posted 14 first-quarter points, Reinhardt was even more successful, scoring on each of its first three possessions for 21-14 lead at the end of 15 minutes.

The Eagles (8-0, 3-0) scored three touchdowns in the first seven minutes of the game -- a feat no other team has managed this season against the Blue Raiders. Prior to today's game, the Lindsey Wilson defense had not yielded 20 points in any single game.

Reinhardt's Niagel Curtis scored the game's first touchdown capping an eight-play, 66-yard opening drive to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead. Curtis finished with a team-high 129 yards and five rushing touchdowns.

Following a Lindsey Wilson three-and-out, Ryan Thompson found a streaking Tyler Bradley for a 46-yard touchdown to push the Eagles lead to 14-0.

The Blue Raiders responded with a two-play touchdown drive after Allen Cooks returned the ensuing kickoff 63 yards to the Reinhardt 35-yard line. Dylan Beasley connected with Josh Haney out of the backfield for a 26-yard touchdown to cut the deficit in half. Beasley finished with a career-high 375 yards passing and two touchdowns.

Curtis made it three-for-three on the subsequent Reinhardt possession with a one-yard plunge for a 21-7 lead. Lindsey Wilson climbed within a score on Jalen Sublett's one-yard touchdown run. The Blue Raiders covered 85 yards on six plays to cut the Eagles lead to 21-14.

The two teams -- who entered the game averaging a combined 93 points per game -- closed out the first quarter at 21-14.

In the second and third quarters, Lindsey Wilson slowed the high-power Reinhardt offense led by Michael Brooks' 9-1/2 tackles, two tackles for a loss and one sack. He became the program's all-time leader in tackles (267-1/2) early in the third quarter.

The Eagles -- who leads the NAIA in rushing offense and second in the nation in scoring --managed just one touchdown during the middle quarters, giving the Blue Raider offense an opportunity to seize the momentum.

However, after the hot start, Lindsey Wilson scored on just one drive -- a field goal -- in its next six possessions, including stalling twice in the red zone.

Lindsey Wilson dented the scoreboard first in the second half with a Caleb Keeton 22-yard field goal. The Blue Raiders trailed 28-17 entering the fourth quarter - marking the first time all season Lindsey Wilson trailed entering the final quarter.

Reinhardt increased its lead to 35-17 on a Curtis four-yard run.

Lindsey Wilson answered as Beasley hit Hunter Lovell in stride for a 62-yard touchdown strike to cut the deficit to 35-24 with just under 12 minutes remaining in the game. Lovell finished with four catches for 116 yards and a touchdown.

Trying to ride the wave of momentum supplied by the Lovell touchdown, the Blue Raiders attempted to get the ball back with an on-side kick. The kick stopped just shy of traveling the necessary 10 yards allowing Reinhardt to cover up the football giving the Eagles a short field. Reinhardt took advantage scoring nine plays later for the 42-24 lead.

Lindsey Wilson continued to move the ball on its next two drives, but each time, Reinhardt stopped the drive with an interception.

Lindsey Wilson finished the game with 509 total yards of offense, including averaging 7.6 yards per play. Reinhardt covered 573 yards while running 26 more offensive plays (93-67) during the game. Chris Wells is sports information director at Lindsey Wilson College

This story was posted on 2015-10-25 03:04:01
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