The win ensured that Reinhardt (5-2, 3-0 Mid-South West) would not have a losing record in its first season.
“It was an unusual game,” coach Danny Cronic said. “This is the only game that we have had a comfortable game in which to finish it out. It felt a little bit different.”
Before Saturday’s 32-point victory, Reinhardt’s four previous wins had come by an average of 4.3 points. It’s most lopsided win was five against Bethel and Kentucky Christian.
L.J. Stegall and Niagel Curtis each ran for more than 100 yards, while Travis Nunley picked off a pass by Belhaven’s Darrell Williams and returned it 92 yards for a touchdown.
The Eagles scored on their first drive of the game and never trailed from that point on. Aaron Kennedy caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Thompson to cap a 12-play, 68-yard drive just over 5 minutes into the game.
Belhaven (2-5, 0-3) responded early in the second quarter, as Alonso Acosta’s 22-yard field goal made the score 7-3, but Curtis quickly went to work on Reinhardt’s next possession. There were no defenders within 10 yards, when he put the Eagles up 14-3 with his 41-yard touchdown run.
The Blazers caught a lucky break for their first touchdown of the day. A fumble inside Reinhardt’s 5-yard line bounced into the open arms of Duece Coon, who carried into the end zone with 4:53 remaining in the first half.
The Eagles then scored twice in the next 3 minutes to take a 28-10 lead into the break. The first drive lasted just five plays, as Stegall capped it with a 32-yard touchdown.
Belhaven then went three-and-out, and Reinhardt took over with just over 2 minutes left in the half. Once again working quickly, the Eagles struck on an 8-yard touchdown run by Jaylen Dodd.
The Blazers attempted to swing the momentum in their favor going into the second half, but Nunley’s interception and touchdown sapped what seemed to remain of their morale.
Belhaven was playing with a heavy heart following the death of longtime assistant coach Willie Heidelberg to an apparent heart attack earlier in the week.
With 5:53 left in the third, Stegall made it 42-10 with a 52-yard run. The two-play drive covered 60 yards and just 33 seconds.
Early in the fourth quarter, Dylan Haynes put his name in the Reinhardt record books.
The former standout at Cherokee High School, who took over at quarterback in the second half, and on a drive that started on his own 6, he broke free for an 81-yard touchdown run — the longest play from scrimmage in Reinhardt’s brief history — and put the Eagles up 49-10.
Belhaven cut into the lead a bit when Coon caught a 22-yard pass from Ian McGinnis with 9:04 remaining, but Reinhardt’s lead was never threatened.
Thompson was 10-for-16 passing for 101 yards and a touchdown.
On the ground, the Eagles used 10 different ball-carriers. Stegall led with seven carries for 125 yards, while Curtis carried the ball 14 times for 110 yards. Thanks largely to his long touchdown run, Haynes finished just shy of 100 yards with four carries for 93 yards.
Defensively, the Eagles were led by Blake Barnes and Jarred Johnson, who each recorded five solo tackles and assisted on two more. Phillip Leconte came up with a big sack in the second half, dropping McGinnis for a loss of 10 yards. Tevin McCoy also recorded a sack.
Cronic was pleased with the way the defense performed when Belhaven got into the red zone. On one occasion, they forced an interception, they held the Blazers to a field goal on another possession.
Belhaven was just 6-of-18 third-down conversions.
“I was pleased,” he said. “I feel like Christian Hill had a good game. Offensively, we are getting some different guys in there, and some of the old guys are getting healthy. But we are still doing it by committee on offense.”
Reinhardt will return to Ken White Field next Saturday for perhaps its toughest test yet, the No. 2 University of the Cumberlands.