The Buena Regional High School football team saw firsthand how quickly a game can completely shift gears.
In a span of 18 seconds off the clock, Buena went from driving late in the second quarter with a chance to tie the game against Atlantic City to trailing 22-0 going into halftime. The Vikings never looked back and went on to hand the Chiefs a 36-6 defeat Friday night at the John J. Zucal Athletic Complex in a Cape-Atlantic League crossover matchup.
Buena quarterback Eric Rainear was picked off by Atlantic City’s Dayshawn Reynolds, who returned the ball 35 yards for a score with 1:27 left in the half. The Vikings then recovered a squib kick that eluded the Chiefs return team on the ensuing kickoff and went 28 yards in three plays for another score that put Atlantic City up 22-0 with 1:09 to play. The Chiefs couldn’t score on their final possession of the half.
“It changed the game,” Buena coach Jonathan Caputo said. “That No. 4 (Reynolds) is a game-changer. He usually does it on offense, this game he did it on defense.”
Buena didn’t appear to regroup at halftime either, as the Vikings squib kicked again, and recovered their own kickoff for the second time in the game. Atlantic City needed just two plays and 32 seconds to stretch the lead to four scores.
“The ball bounces, it’s a funny thing,” Caputo said. “We were a little anxious. It happens.
“When you think about it, they scored three touchdowns in a couple of minutes. And second half kickoff, you get the ball, you score, you’re in the game, and then we lose the kickoff again.”
The Chiefs tried to put the unfortunate plays behind them.
“We’re always talking about trying to take that next step, one play at a time, one play at a time,” senior linebacker/offensive lineman DeFoor said. “We just gotta keep going.”
Buena also has a chance to take an early lead when the Vikings fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and the Chiefs’ Darryl Guilford recovered. But the Atlantic City defense forced a turnover on downs.
On their next drive, Atlantic City first broke onto the scoreboard with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Jarren McBryde to Demond Cottman with 57 seconds left in the first quarter. That capped an 18-play, 84-yard drive.
Atlantic City put the game on ice in the third quarter with a 33-yard run by Domaneek Brown-Hurd through the gut of the Chiefs’ defense. Brown-Hurd finished with a game-high 101 yards on 12 carries. Atlantic City quarterback Jarren McBryde was 6-of-14 passing for 120 yards, becoming the third straight quarterback to throw for more than 100 yards against the Buena defense.
The Chiefs’ touchdown came on a 24-yard run by freshman Justin Inman with 6.7 seconds left to play. Inman didn’t have a carry until the final drive of the game, but he finished with a team-high 43 yards on five carries. Rainear had 42 yards on 11 carries and was 1-for-8 passing with two interceptions.
After a 3-0 start, Buena’s fortunes have changed and the Chiefs have now dropped three in a row. Buena still needs one win to become playoff eligible.
“We just have to get back to work tomorrow,” DeFoor said. “We have no time to think about what happened the day before, the game is over, it’s time for the next game.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Buena moving forward. The Chiefs host St. Augustine next, in a game that used to be a Thanksgiving Eve tradition. The rivalry is still strong despite the matchup now coming in the regular season.
“It’s still the same rivalry,” DeFoor said. “We’re going to come out with as much heart as we do every single week.”
Caputo said he doesn’t think his players will hang their heads going into their matchup with undefeated (5-0) St. Augustine.
“These kids are resilient,” Caputo said. “They just came out here with a big effort against a Group V school. You gotta be perfect against teams like this.”
“We just gotta keep pushing,” senior cornerback/wide receiver Nate Niederhofer said. “It’s no time to hang our heads.”