On the scoreboard, at least, the offense was the winner — 35-32 — as both sides were awarded points for big plays.
The offense started the scrimmage at different points on its own side of the field and needed to put together long drives for a touchdown. Meanwhile, the defense got out to a quick 14-point lead, thanks to a series of three-and-outs, tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.
But the offense soon found a spark and put together a touchdown drive, added the point-after and received a bonus point for getting three first downs on the drive.
In the second half of the scrimmage, the offense started at either midfield or inside the 25. They added four more touchdowns, along with a field goal by former Etowah High School standout Ryan Hopper.
In all, the offense scored five touchdowns, while the defense recorded nine tackles for loss and forced three turnovers.
Reinhardt coach Danny Cronic said that, in the end, it didn’t really matter to him which side won on the scoreboard.
“If we don’t play good defense, then we are going to be in trouble. If we don’t play good offense, we are going to be in trouble,” he said. “(On Saturday), I thought the defense had its way. The defense seemed to play a little more inspired.”
Cronic said each side had its day to excel during spring practice. The key will be getting both units to do it on the field this fall.
For the entirety of spring practice, Cronic gave the squad an overall grade of B-plus. Bringing the grade down was the lack of consistency.
“It’s consistency in emotions, even in the mundane things,” Cronic said.
Among those scoring touchdowns for the Eagles’ offense were Tyler Bradley, Thomas Reese, Sam Jones and Deonte Dennis. Former Etowah standout Braden Nolan, who started his college career at Carson-Newman, completed a touchdown pass to Reese.
Nolan wasn’t the only quarterback who got some work in. Ryan Thompson and former Cherokee standout Dylan Haynes also took snaps.
Haynes looked strong in his series, completing a series of passes and making a short run before the play was whistled dead.
Thompson and Johnathon Chamblee shared snaps for Reinhardt last season, while Haynes also had a start, but Cronic has not announced who the starter will be this fall. The job may continue to be done by committee.
Nolan could factor in, too, should his eligibility following his transfer from Carson-Newman be sorted out before the start of the season.
Other familiar names on the field for the offense included Niagel Curtis, who had a few solid carries, while T.C. Carter showed both an ability to catch passes and run the ball during his time on the field. Carl Edouard, Alec Rubin and Reggie Mack also made solid plays. L.J. Stegall, who often starred for the Eagles last season, didn’t disappoint either.
In addition to his field goal, Hopper also made a pair of extra points.
Cronic said there are a lot of talented players to spread the ball around.
“I know some of the offensive skill players are probably disappointed because they wanted the ball more, but that’s just kind of the way it is,” Cronic said.
On the defensive side, lineman Isaac Martin stood out with a fumble recovery following a sack. Had he been able to get his feet underneath him, it might have been returned for a touchdown. Instead, he was upended after a 20-yard return.
Tramaine Smith made an interception to prevent a touchdown, and if it wasn’t the best grab of the day, it was certainly the most acrobatic. While providing coverage near the goal line, Smith fell to the ground but managed to grab the football, which had been popped into the air by a receiver trying to get possession of the ball.
Other defensive standouts included Deion Shelton, El-Malik Robeson-el, Calvin Robertson and former Woodstock standout Chas Pierce.
A few players, such as Nathen Lingo and Elliot Clark missed the scrimmage with injuries, but Cronic said neither were serious. Long snapper Justin Robinson missed the scrimmage, as did center Sharrod Pittman, who is being held back after suffering a seizure.
Cronic was pleased to see others who had long by plagued by injuries, like A.J. Thomas, back in action.
The challenge for Reinhardt is to now come together as a team and meet expectations, which are much higher than the team’s debut season of last fall.
“It’s a different role,” Cronic said. “The expectations are higher. But we have a new defensive coordinator and a new defensive linebacker coach, and I like the way they are playing. Offensively, we are still coming along.”
Reinhardt will open the 2014 season Aug. 28 at Mercer. After playing at Lindsey on Sept. 6, the Eagles will open the home portion of their season Sept. 13 against Kentucky Christian — one of just four home games the team will have.
Season ticket prices will be announced in early May, with sales starting shortly after. Sports information director Jason Hanes said the university is waiting to announce ticketing information until decisions are made concerning the addition of more seating and lights at Ken White Field.