WESTERVILLE -- While it wasn't quite the shootout as it had been in years past, the 2018 edition of the Rhine River Cup game went well for the Heidelberg University football team. The Student Princes retained the traveling trophy with a 21-7 win at Otterbein University on a brisk Saturday evening in Central Ohio.
The Student Princes have won six of the last seven Rhine River Cup games, which commemorates the 1992 game between the two schools that was played in Germany.
Heidelberg improved to 4-2 on the season, 3-2 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. Otterbein has dropped five straight and now stands at 1-5, 0-5.
The Heidelberg defense held Otterbein scoreless for 58:52, inducing three turnovers and amassing five sacks.
Quarterback Trace Reynolds was 18-for-26 passing for 224 yards and two scores. He added 90 yards on the ground.
Receiver Maceo Matthews snagged five passes for 90 yards, scoring on 54-yard and 27-yard passes.
Erik Hagedorn seemed to be all over the field. He recorded a team-high 11 tackles, including a sack. He also broke up a pass.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
On 4th-and-9 from from the Otterbein 38, Reynolds had a pass picked off a deflected ball that ended Heidelberg's opening drive.
Though they had struggled to move the ball all season, the Cardinals had little difficulty marching down the field on the ensuing possession. The Heidelberg defense, however, was ready. On 3rd-and-5 inside in the Heidelberg 10, Tyler Matuszak brought pressure and forced Otterbein QB Steven Irwin into a bad throw. Jordan Green intercepted the pass in the end zone, ending the scoring threat.
On their next possession, the Cardinals were on the cusp of entering the red zone before their drive stalled. A 39-yard field goal attempt by David Hoyle was wide right.
A 42-yard rush by Jace Grossman set the Student Princes up with 1st-and-goal from the three. After a loss of three by Grossman, Reynolds ran for two. On third down, Reynolds was sacked for a loss of seven. Following a false start, Austin Baker missed a 34-yard kick.
Scoreless late in the first half, Heidelberg took possession on its own eight. After working the ball to midfield, Reynolds hit Maceo Matthews on a seam route for a 54-yard touchdown. Baker added the extra point.
Up 7-0 at halftime, the Tricolor forced a Cardinal punt on the opening possession of the third. Reynolds scampered for 31 yards down the left sideline, then drew a late hit to put the ball at the Otterbein 20. On second down, Reynolds found Matthews over the top for their second touchdown connection of the evening.
The 14-point lead seemed to allow the defense an opportunity to dial up its pressure. Dylan Marder intercepted a pass on the next Otterbein possession. After a 'Berg punt, Zach Blackiston recovered a fumble deep in the Cardinal end. Matthews dashed for 12 yards on an end-around before Grossman plowed ahead for a seven-yard touchdown rush. Baker connected on the PAT, giving HU a 21-0 lead at the end of three.
As Heidelberg tried to grind time off the clock, the hosts were finally able to put points on the board in the final moments of the contest. Bryce Hall led the Cards down the field and scored on a two-yard rush. David Hoyle added the PAT.
After recovering an onside kick, the Student Princes knelt down twice to run the clock out.
Conference commissioner Tim Gleason presented the Rhine River Cup to Heidelberg on the field shortly after the game.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:
Heidelberg's last shutout came on a Halloween drubbing of Wilmington College … a 44-0 win on Oct. 31, 2015.
Matthews enjoyed his second two-touchdown game of the season. The sophomore hauled in two at Wilmington on Sept. 29.
Zach Blackiston, who entered the game 11th in the nation in sacks per game, recorded two. Collin Pecoraro set a career high with two sacks of his own and added a pass breakup.
Head Coach Scott Donaldson on the importance of the Rhine River Cup: "The Rhine River Cup is a special game. We treat it as a bowl game … It's something we have hung our hat on for years. It's always a great game against a well-coached team."
Donaldson on the play of the defense: "Orr defense showed up tonight exactly when we needed them … Creating takeaways and getting after the QB … We had too many guys to name that did a great job."
Heidelberg visits No. 1 Mount Union (6-0, 5-0) next Saturday. Kickoff at Mount Union Stadium is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. The game will be aired via tape delay on SportsTime Ohio.