HENDERSONVILLE – Ready or not, conference play begins next week for most Western North Carolina football teams.
Reynolds coach Shane Laws had that in the back of his mind, and often times further up, Friday at venerable Dietz Field.
The Rockets left with a 40-17 road win over Hendersonville that was neither easy nor pretty at times.
It was a win nonetheless.
Keyal Talbert rushed for 77 yards and a pair of touchdowns (13 and 33 yards), sandwiched around a 3-yard scoring run by Will Israel. Kaedin Robinson returned a third-quarter punt 52 yards for a special-teams touchdown and later had a 53-yard scamper into the end zone. Ethan Blakey’s 23-yard field goal was right down the middle with 8 minutes, 8 seconds to go in the ballgame.
Meanwhile, Frank Torres and the defense did the rest for the defending Mountain Athletic Conference 3-A champions in their third consecutive win.
“I thought our defense really played well tonight,” Laws said.
“We so many almosts on offense, whether it was penalties or other things. We just couldn’t get it to click. But we can get away with that a lot of nights if we play defense like that.”
Reynolds hasn’t lost a MAC game in two years and is home for next week’s tilt with Erwin (2-3). The Rockets (first) and Warriors (second) were the top-two teams in the MAC coaches preseason poll.
“It’s going to be a big week for us,” Laws said.
“They all matter. But when you start off with one of the better teams in the conference, that’s exciting.”
Reynolds led Hendersonville, 16-3, at halftime and then put up 24 unanswered points from there. Bearcats quarterback Alex Willford passed for 163 yards, 116 of which went to Tykel Landrum. Landrum and Ty’rese Hunt scored fourth-quarter touchdowns, but by that time, the game had gotten out of hand.
Drew Eudy connected on a 42-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Bad snaps were a problem for the Bearcats (3-2) all night Friday.
One led to a first-half safety. Another was fumbled and subsequently recovered by Torres, who averages a team-high 8.7 tackles a game. Josh Proffitt made an interception for the Rockets in the fourth quarter.
“We had some chances early,” Hendersonville coach Jim Sosebee said.
“And when you have chances against a team like Reynolds, you have to take advantage. We didn’t get those breaks and it just snowballed on us. And then we got worn down. We’ll lick our wounds, come back to practice Monday and try to get better. That’s all you can do.”