FB: Missed opportunities cost Berg

Photos courtesy of Brennan Izzo
Photos courtesy of Brennan Izzo

TIFFIN -- The opportunity was there … but the Heidelberg University football team could not take advantage.  The Student Princes (3-2, 2-2 OAC) was unable to take down unbeaten Marietta College on a muggy Saturday afternoon. A Pioneer touchdown with 1:19 to play was the difference in a 38-34 contest that featured 10 lead changes.  

KEY STATS
'Berg quarterback Trace Reynolds threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 142 yards and two scores.  However, the Pioneers held Reynolds to 13 yards rushing after halftime.

Marietta running back Tanner Clark showed why he is among the nations leaders in rushing.  The junior accumulated 232 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns, including the game winner.

The Student Princes forced three turnovers, but were unable to convert them into points.  

HOW IT HAPPENED

Down 31-28 in the fourth quarter, Reynolds and the Student Princes embarked on a 10-play, 72-yard drive to take the lead.  Braden Jerome began the drive with three of his 10 catches on consecutive plays. Later, Jace Grossman plowed ahead on a 4th-down play inside Pio territory.  Reynolds found Maceo Matthews on a slant for a seven-yard touchdown that put HU up 34-31. The point after was blocked.

On the first play of the subsequent Marietta drive, Darrien Fields fired a quick pass toward a receiver.  The ball was deflected around before Tyler Matuszak dove to pick it off.

Up three, The Berg craved insurance points.  Reynolds ran for 12 on the first play, down the Marietta 20.  From there, two sacks and false start beset Heidelberg back to the Marietta 37.  A 12-yard completion to Grossman got HU back into field goal range, but a low snap was mishandled and Marietta took over on downs.  

With a heavy dose of Clark, the visitors moved 67 yards in 14 plays for the go ahead score.  Facing 4th-and-1 from the 'Berg 36, Fields magically turned a low snap into a seven-yard scramble to extend the drive.  Clark scored from one yard out.

HU had the ball with one timeout and 1:13 to play.  On the second play, Dimitri Penick was wide open down the right sideline.  Reynolds, throwing into the wind, watched his pass go into the hands of a diving Pioneer, Jake Tracewell, for the game-clinching interception.  

Marietta took two knees to improve to 5-0, 4-0.  

The contest was back and forth all afternoon.  Marietta was poised to take a lead on the opening drive.  On 1st-and-goal from the 8, Fields threw to Parker Caretti.  Caretti had the ball down to the one before Ahkil McGill ripped it away.  

Later in the first, trailing 7-0, Heidelberg tied the game when Reynolds leapt over his offensive line for the touchdown.  Austin Baker added the extra point.

After holding Marietta to a field goal on their next possession, Heidelberg took the lead early in the second.  Reynolds hit Jerome for a six-yard pitch-and-catch. Baker's PAT gave HU a 14-10 advantage.

The lead was short-lived.  Fields hooked up with Ryan VanMeter for a five-yard score to cap a 75-yard drive.  

Undaunted, Reynolds led Heidelberg right back down the field.  He ended the drive with a scramble for a seven-yard score.

Just before halftime, Clark put the Pioneers back on top with a two-yard power rush.  Marietta led 24-21 at halftime.

The only points of the third quarter came on a 9-play, 73-yard drive.  Matthews had a 35-yard reception on the drive, deking the cornerback with a stutter-step just before the ball arrived.  Grossman found paydirt from two yards out, putting HU up 28-24.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Clark ran 24 yards for a go-ahead touchdown.  Jimmy Embrescia's PAT gave Marietta the 31-28 cushion that touched off the frantic final quarter.  

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

Trace Reynolds rushed for two touchdowns. This marked the first time a Heidelberg quarterback rushed for two scores since November 8, 2014. Michael Mees accomplished the mark at Capital in a 52-28 victory.

Braden Jerome hauled in 10 receptions good for 96 yards. He has now caught over 1,000 receiving yards in his career. Demetrius Magee was the last receiver to catch 10 passes in a single game on November 11, 2017 at home vs. Capital.

Austin Baker nailed a 64-yard punt, marking the first 60+ yard punt for the Heidelberg football team since he accomplished the feat with a 69-yarder vs. Mount Union in 2017.

Marietta has won back-to-back games over Heidelberg for the first time since they won four in a row from 2004-2007.

NOTABLE QUOTES

Head coach Scott Donaldson on the game: "We just weren't good enough to beat a good football team...Marietta's 5-0 for a reason. It wasn't a clean football game...we made too many errors offensively, defensively and special teams too."

Donaldson on the Berg defense vs. Tanner Clark: "At times we were great, but he's a great player running behind an O-Line you're just not gonna stop...we got them in several third and fourth downs, and we just couldn't come up with the play."

UP NEXT

The Student Princes return the gridiron next Saturday at Otterbein University in a battle for the Rhine River Cup. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. in Westerville.