The former standout quarterback at Cherokee High School had not played a down at the position for the Eagles until Saturday’s game. He stepped in to replace injured starter Johnathon Chamblee, who is out with a separated shoulder, and second-stringer Ryan Thompson, who was also out with an injury.
Reinhardt (4-2) used more backups than regular starters at Union.
Haynes finished the cross-divisional Mid-South Conference game 8-for-23 for 160 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, he managed the game well.
Haynes didn’t turn the ball over and his only carry on the day resulted in a 4-yard gain. He also took a few lumps on the receiving end of at least one late-hit penalty.
“I thought Dylan did fine, but we didn’t help him too much with all those dropped balls,” Reinhardt coach Danny Cronic said in a phone interview. “We catch about five more balls and I think we get a victory that was a lot prettier than what we had.”
T.C. Carter also played a big game for the Eagles, punching in a pair of touchdowns. The first was a 2-yard carry in the second quarter, and the second came late in the third from the 1.
Reinhardt fell behind early when Union’s Alex Sigmon booted a 30-yard field goal for the only points of the first quarter.
It took some time for Haynes to settle into his role, but the offense began clicking in the second quarter.
Haynes found Sam Jones for a 26-yard completion, and rushes by Carter and L.J. Stegall moved the ball into Union territory. After another Haynes completion to Aaron Kennedy and an 8-yard run by Chris Gaines, the quarterback found Jaylen Dodd, who managed the catch despite an interference call, for the 29-yard touchdown pass.
The Eagles, who led 7-3 at the half, never again trailed.
Reinhardt scored on its opening drive of the second half when Carter’s 2-yard run capped an 11-play drive that began on the Eagles’ 19.
Union (1-4) cut into the lead on its next possession. Hogan Goodson, who replaced starting quarterback Chandler Whittlesey at the start of the third quarter, found Domonique Jefferson for a 64-yard touchdown pass that made the score 14-10. The one-play drive lasted just 11 seconds.
With the ball back in the hands of the Eagles’ offense, Carter went to work and picked up a first down on a 13-yard run. Haynes’ pass intended for Trey Phillips missed the mark, but the Eagles got 15 yards out of it anyway as penalty was called against Union for roughing the passer.
Carter and Gaines chipped away at the field before Stegall broke away for a 21-yard gain that brought the ball to the Union 5. Back-to-back runs by Carter put the ball in the end zone for the 21-10 lead.
The Bulldogs put together a solid drive on their next possession but were stopped short of the end zone when Tevin McCoy intercepted a pass on the Reinhardt 15. The Eagles weren’t able to convert the opportunity into any points of their own, but keeping Union off the scoreboard was key in the end.
Whittlesey re-entered the game at quarterback for Union, and the teams traded possession before Whittlesey eventually got the ball in the end zone with a 10-yard pass to Jefferson. The 2-point conversion, also a pass to Jefferson, was good.
Reinhardt’s lead was just 21-18, but it held. The game essentially ended when Union turned the ball over on downs with 29 seconds remaining. Whittlesey’s 12-yard run wasn’t enough to convert on the fourth-and-13.
Gaines led the Eagles with 70 rushing yards on 14 carries. Carter finished with 67 yards on 15 carries, while Stegall was kept out of the end zone for the first time all season.
Twice, Reinhardt forced turnovers when Union inside the 20. Carlton Hadley had five tackles and five assists. Blake Barnes had four tackles, four assists and forced a fumble. Johntre Gunn recovered the fumble.
Despite the win, Cronic thought his team could have done better.
“I know we had some adversity, but I wonder how much I need to settle for with that,” he said. “Overall, we just need to be very thankful for the win.”
Reinhardt will be off next week before hosting Belhaven in a West Division game Oct. 19.