HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL Reynolds sparks Crestview past Lowellville
Quarterback Jordan Reynolds passed for three TDs in a 34-6 romp.
By ERIC HAMILTON
COLUMBIANA -- After leading the Crestview High football team to just five wins in his first two seasons as a starting quarterback, Jordan Reynolds entered the 2004 season hoping for a breakout year.
If he picks apart defenses like he did Thursday night against Lowellville, he'll do even better than that.
Working out of the shotgun formation, the junior threw for 143 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a score in the first half, as Crestview built a 28-6 advantage and coasted to a 34-6 victory over Lowellville.
The win was the Rebels' first non-league triumph since 2001, breaking a six-game losing skid.
"It was very important for our young team to win the first game," Crestview coach Paul Cusick said. "It was a big confidence booster for this group, which has taken some lumps the past two seasons. They worked really hard in the off-season and this win has the kids believing in themselves."
With just six seniors, Cusick's main concern is how quickly the younger players can mature and handle key game situations. Early on against Lowellville, he got a taste of how that process may go.
Crestview fumbled the opening kickoff and the Rockets recovered it at the Rebels' 24. After giving up two plays of positive yardage, the Crestview defense sacked Lowellville quarterback Rich Schrader on two consecutive snaps to stall the drive.
"Those are the moments that make you grow up," said Cusick. "Last year, they score on us in that situation. I think our stand right in the beginning showed our young kids' character and that they are ready to step up and play."
That early shift in momentum was all Reynolds and the Crestview offense needed to get them going. The Rebels scored on two straight possessions to take a 14-0 lead after the first quarter.
Reynolds got Crestview on the board with just over three minutes remaining in the opening quarter when he bolted 2 yards for the score. After an interception by Jared Corey gave Crestview the ball at Lowellville's 22, Reynolds rolled to his right and connected with Colby Henderson for a 22-yard TD pass with 1:30 to go in the quarter.
Reynolds added a 27-yard scoring strike to Justin Cole to give the Rebels a 21-0 advantage with just over five minutes remaining in the first half.
Gonzalez goes distance
Lowellville running back Lucas Gonzalez sparked the offense on the Rockets' next possession. The junior broke through the Crestview defense on the third play of the series, galloping 75 yards for Lowellville's first score, cutting the deficit to 21-6.
Gonzalez finished the night with 100 yards on 17 carries.
That was as close as the Rockets would get, as the defense had no answer for Reynolds. The signal caller threw his third touchdown of the game with under one minute remaining before intermission, this time connecting with Mike Lanterman on a 30-yard bomb.
"Jordan being so small [5-foot-6, 150 pounds], we had to get him out of the pocket a lot his freshman and sophomore year," said Cusick. "He's pretty comfortable on the run with the no-huddle offense. But he did a nice job stepping up in the pocket and finding the open receivers tonight. He's developed into a very good quarterback."
Reynolds finished 8-for-12 for 143 yards and three touchdowns.
Comfortably ahead, Crestview went to the running game in the second half. David Myers churned out 104 yards on 16 carries.
"I wasn't happy with how we ran the ball in the first half so we made a commitment to run harder in the second half," said Cusick. "We were more physical and we started to wear Lowellville down."
Despite the loss, Lowellville coach Cliff Jamieson believes his team's best football is still ahead.
"We had three or four chances in their territory to score, but Crestview's defense just shut us down," he said. "We broke a few plays, but weren't consistent enough."