Rocks rally to victory
BARNESVILLE — Brayden Reynolds isn’t your prototypical football player. Barnesville’s middle linebacker stands all of 5-3 and tips the scales at a robust 130 pounds, but the senior stood tall and played big Friday night.
After spotting visiting River View (0-5) a quick 13-0 lead, Reynolds spearheaded a ballhawking defense and the Shamrocks (2-3) ended a three-game slide with a come-from-behind, 21-13, decision before an electric crowd at Shamrock Stadium.
“My small size really helps me I think on defense, as does my wrestling skills,” Reynolds said. “My speed and strength make up for my lack of size, as does my heart. I wear it on my sleeve.”
Reynolds was charted with nearly 20 tackles and four quarterback sacks, while also pressuring Black Bears’ quarterback Gannon Unger several more times.
“I could talk all night about Brayden. You don’t have enough time,” first-year Barnesville head coach Blake Allen said after picking up his first career home win. “The kid weighs 130 pounds but he plays like he’s 230. He works every single day. It started in May when wrestling season ended and he hit the weight room, and it shows.”
With Reynolds and his buddies — Cade Stephen, Caden Lake, Jacob Clift, Trey Warner, Neil Gibbons and Owen Oliver — clogging up the middle and freshman Ayden Hannahs picking off three passes, River View’s offense was nearly non-existent after the early outburst, especially in the second half when it was limited to minus-19 yards rushing, 13 yards passing and two first downs.
“I just can’t be more proud of a group of kids. We had three rough weeks, but we played some good competition,” Allen noted. “We just didn’t execute, but the attitudes never wavered. They’ve come to work every day in practice striving to get better. That showed tonight.
“We got down after they hit a couple of big plays early. We knew they were going to throw everything they had at us. We weathered the storm. We’re fighters and that’s what I like. We’ve got young guys that like to fight. I’m extremely proud of them tonight.”
Both Reynolds and Allen said the second half came down to making the plays.
“We just had to come back and execute on defense. We had to make sure we filled the lanes, fill our gaps and hold everybody accountable,” Reynolds said.
“Honestly, it wasn’t much,” Allen said of any adjustments on offense. “It was more about just executing. We had the plays, we just weren’t executing. We dropped passes, missed blocks here and there. I thought there were a couple of plays where we were a block or two from going all the way.
“We had a few wrinkles we threw in,” he said of the second half, “but we just executed. That’s all it was.”
One of the offensive wrinkles was the short passing game that quarterback Cade Hannahs utilized to near-perfection. The junior was 9-for-11 in the second half. Three of his completions went for touchdowns, and none covered more than 13 yards.
His first scoring strike cut the deficit to 13-7 late in the first quarter. On fourth-and-8 from the nine, Cade Hannahs play-faked before rolling to his left. He pulled up and lofted the ball back across the field where Bradyn Strous hauled it before weaving his way into the end zone. Stephen’s PAT made it 13-7.
Neither team would score in the second quarter as the defenses ruled. In fact, Barnesville could only muster 45 yards of total offense at the break. Ayden Hannahs had 52 yards on two of his interception returns.
Following Ayden Hannahs’ third pick of the game midway through the third quarter, the hosts marched 31 yards on half-a-dozen plays as Cade Hannahs found Lake in the right flat and the sophomore fullback bulled his way to paydirt to complete the 13-yard scoring strike. The placement was wide right, leaving the score deadlocked at 13 with 4:11 on the third-quarter clock.
Barnesville finally took its first lead of the game on the first series of the fourth quarter. Cade Hannahs rolled to his left on third-and-goal from the 2 before flipping a pass to Lake just across the goalline. Cade Hannahs bobbled the snap, but scooped the ball up, rolled to his right and spotted Strous wide-open in the end zone for the two-point conversion and a 21-13 advantage.
Reynolds ended any hopes of a comeback as he made back-to-back sacks of Unger and forced an intentional grounding call.
Cade Hannahs finished 14 of 20 for 120 yards and three TDs. Lake had four catches and Jacob Gallaway grabbed three passes.