WALESKA, Ga. - Ryan Thompson passed for 278 yards and two touchdowns and Dominique Swope ran for three scores in third-ranked Reinhardt University's 44-27 victory over Cumberland Saturday, Oct. 15 at Ken White Field.
The Eagles (7-0, 2-0 Mid-South) scored on a 56-yard Hail Mary to end the first half then Swope went six yards on the opening drive of the third quarter, giving Reinhardt some breathing room after Michael Green's 19-yard TD catch-and-run from Justin Snyder in the final minute of the second quarter tied the score at 14-14.
"We made a lot of mistakes that hurt us instead of Rinehardt hurting us," said CU head coach Donnie Suber.
"Reinhardt is a great team with a lot of speed. It's a tough battle whoever plays 'em. We stopped 'em at times, but their passing got to us.
"We had kicked the safties down in the box trying to help out on the run then they popped us with a pass."
The third quarter went back-and-forth after Swope's score, with Snyder's 1-yard sneak and a nine-yard TD rush by Kendall Johnson keeping the Phoenix (3-4, 0-2) in the contest, but the kicking game hurt CU ahead. After Snyder's TD, the PAT snap rolled to the holder and kicker Matthew Alter picked it up, but as he was being tackled, tried the flip the ball back to Snyder. Instead Reinhardt's Cameron Gibson picked off the throw in the air and went 85 yards for a two-point conversion and a 30-20 Eagles lead.
Kris Parker carried 10 times for 93 yards and a score for Cumberland while Snyder finished 9-of-18 passing for 132 yards with a score in relief of Dezmon Huntley, who was injured on a rush in the first quarter. Snyder also had 54 yards rushing on 10 attempts.
Thompson's previous high passing this season was 168 at the University of Pikeville two weeks ago, though the Eagles came into the contest outscoring opponents, 60-5, with the starters rarely playing in the second half.
Nine different players ran the ball for Reinhardt, who posted 252 yards on the ground on 47 attempts, but the Hail Mary and Thompson were the biggest difference, with the senior completing 15-of-21 with TD throws of 56 and 14, both to Qua Stocks.
Cumberland pinned the Eagles deep in their own territory twice in the first quarter, forcing a pair of punts, but Reinhardt broke through late in the period with a 67-yard drive.
Tyler Bradley caught a 26-yard pass over the middle and a facemask penalty on a CU defensive lineman added 15 yards to a seven-yard grab by Aaron Kennedy. Two plays later Swope carried the final four yards for the TD for a 7-0 RU lead just 15 seconds before the end of the quarter.
Reinhardt went 85 yards on eight plays on its next possession, with Bradley's 35-yard grab getting the Eagles to midfield. Carl Eduoard caught a 25-yard pass down the seam to erase a holding call on the home team and L.J. Stegall broke through three tackles on a fourth down play, going 20 yards for the score and a 14-0 advantage.
The Phoenix finally found its offensive rhythm on the next drive, with Ladarius Rodgers catching a 15-yard pass for a first down before a 31-yard scamper up the middle by Parker. The sophomore rumbled three more times on the drive to the RU1 and on fourth down, he went in from two yards out to cut the deficit in half.
The Cumberland defense forced the third punt of the half by the Eagles and the offense kept rolling, with Kendall Johnson catching a 15-yard pass and Rodgers making a 10-yard grab. Austin Chaplin ran five straight times for 18 yards and on third down, the Eagles blitzed up the middle and Snyder hit Michael Green with a short pass and the senior did the rest, going 19 yards for the score to knot the game at 14 with just 52 seconds left in the half.
Thompson scrambled twice for 31 yards and Bradley caught a 36-yard pass to the CU5, but the receiver was called for pass interference with eight-tenths of a second remaining in the period. After both teams were called back from their locker rooms for one last play, Stocks outjumped three Cumberland defenders on the Hail Mary for a 56-yard TD pass.
The Eagles took just five plays to score to open the second half, with Thompson rushing for 21 yards before a 17-yard completion to Kennedy. Swope went the final six yards for a 28-14 advantage.
The Phoenix moved 65 yards on just six plays to answer, including a 42-yard throw to Green. Snyder rushed three of the last four plays of the drive, jumping over the top on the sneak from inside the one, but the PAT mishap took place after the TD and Reinhardt led 30-20.
Stock caught his second touchdown on the next possession for the Eagles, but CU answered again, this time with Johnson's nine-yard rush around right end. Reinhardt's final touchdown of the game came on the first drive of the final quarter, with a 19-yard pass to Deonte Dennis and a 19-yard run by Stegall setting up Swope's one-yard plunge.
Cumberland managed only 22 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter.
The Phoenix play their final home game of the season Saturday, Oct. 22, taking on Campbellsville University for Homecoming and Senior Day at 7 p.m. at Nokes-Lasater Field.