Reynolds had much bigger aspirations than a moral victory on Friday night at Dalton Stadium.
Levi Ledford and the Rockets hung tough with visiting South Point but ultimately fell victim to too many big scoring runs in a 52-35 loss to the second-ranked team in NCHSAA 3-A football.
Ledford passed for 238 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third score from 4 yards out at the 2:11 mark of the third quarter. A.J. Logan rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown, while fellow sophomore Rico Dowdle added 84 and a touchdown, but it was not enough to stand in between the Red Raiders (5-0) and their 31st consecutive regular-season win.
“I’m proud of the way our kids fought tonight,” Reynolds coach Shane Laws said. “I love my kids to death. We just didn’t play very well. We made a lot of mistakes on both sides of the ball.”
South Point fullback Tyler Bray rumbled for 270 yards and four touchdowns (2, 12, 52 and 68 yards). His quarterback, Jaquan Brooks, added 148 yards. Brooks (43 yards) and Diontrea King (40 and 70) also scored long touchdowns with their feet in the second half.
Max Neisler hit a 47-yard field goal in the final minute of the first half.
“We beat a good football team tonight,” Red Raiders coach Mickey Lineberger said.
“We made some mistakes that we usually don’t make, but that’s a team with some weapons that is capable of scoring a lot of points. It turned into a shootout. We learned some lessons tonight, I’m just glad we didn’t have to lose a game to do it.”
Friday was the first game for the Rockets (3-2) without leading rusher Jave Jones (486 yards, eight touchdowns). The school announced Thursday that the junior has been suspended four games for an unspecified violation of team rules.
Without him, Dowdle had 17 carries, while Logan toted the ball 11 times.
Things got off to a promising start for Reynolds. Khiry Lytle caught his first touchdown pass of the season (28 yards) from Ledford at the 2:52 mark of the first quarter.
South Point took only 18 seconds to answer on Bray’s first touchdown run.
The Rockets then jumped on top 14-7 in the second quarter when Dowdle scampered for a 2-yard score. The touchdown was set up by a muffed punt that the Rockets’ Andrew Long recovered on the doorstep of the Red Raiders’ end zone.
South Point scored the final 10 points of the first half and never trailed again.
Lytle also had a fourth-quarter interception that he returned to the Red Raiders’ 13-yard line. That set up a 3-yard touchdown pass from Ledford to C.J. Allen with 7:19 remaining. Cameron Burton also recovered a fourth-down fumble.
The Rockets travel to undefeated Erwin (4-0) next Friday for a game between the two teams picked to finish first and second in the Mountain Athletic Conference’s preseason coaches poll. The Warriors got the nod as this year’s favorite, but lost their 2012 game to the Rockets, 24-20.
“These past five weeks have been difficult for us, but they’ve accomplished exactly what I hoped,” Laws said. “We’ve seen some good football teams and some good football players. We’re prepared for a good team and that’s what (Erwin) is.”