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'They never quit': Reitz football storms back with 28 unanswered points to beat Castle

Treasure Washington
Evansville Courier & Press
  • Final: Reitz 38, Castle 17

NEWBURGH, Ind. 鈥 Reitz doesn't always play the prettiest high school football games.

Friday's contest against Castle at John Lidy Field was no exception.

Panthers junior quarterback Ben Davies slipped and threw a pick-six to a Knights defender in the first quarter. Castle recovered a fumble in the endzone later in the second and even led 17-10 when halftime rolled around. The Knights were the first opponent to put up double digits against Reitz all season.

But the Panthers still got the job done.

They forced turnovers, scored 28 unanswered points and completed the comeback against Castle, 38-17. Class 4A No. 3 Reitz (6-0) has now won 15 regular season games in a row, and it remains at the top of the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference.

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A huge showdown awaits next week in a battle of unbeatens when No. 4 Memorial visits the Bowl.

"I'm proud of our guys," Panthers coach Cory Brunson said. "When we got down, they never quit. They kept fighting and corrected the things we talked about halftime."

Those things were taking care of the football, limiting silly penalties and being more physical up front. And Reitz accomplished all of that during the second half.

The Panthers' senior class, in particular, also wanted to make a statement after the break. They had never won a road game against the Knights in their high school careers and were blown out 53-21 during their previous trip to John Lidy Field.

What a statement they made.

Reitz鈥檚 Roland Vera Jr. (9) is celebrated after scoring as the Reitz Panthers play the Castle Knights at John Lidy Field Friday, Sept. 22, 2023.

Troy Davis Jr. (19 carries, 178 yards, TD) played an integral part in Reitz's ground game. Levi Oxley and Calab Utley continued making clutch plays on defense. And Roland Vera Jr., as usual, was all over the place against the Knights. He had a 17-yard touchdown plus two interceptions on defense, and the last takeaway seemingly iced the game.

"I finally got to get back in on defense, and I'm excited about that," Vera Jr. said. "Our defense came out at halftime ready. We had to get back to what we were doing, and we ended up doing that."

"It was good to see a lot of seniors step up," Brunson added. "They were hoping to get a win here; it's something they had not done yet. And they checked that off their box tonight."

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Reitz鈥檚 Troy Davis (3) carries the ball as the Reitz Panthers play the Castle Knights at John Lidy Field Friday, Sept. 22, 2023.

After taking care of Castle (3-3), Reitz has one of its biggest tests of the season during Week 7. Its showdown with Memorial is essentially the Game of the Year for the SIAC, perhaps even in Class 4A.

"It's definitely going to be a great atmosphere," Brunson said. "(Memorial coach John) Hurley does a great job year in and year out. We're going to enjoy tonight, but the road doesn't get any easier. Our conference is tough. There's no easy games."

Although Memorial also remains undefeated, it survived a scare from Bosse at Enlow Field as it hung on for a 27-26 victory.

No matter the circumstance, Reitz is still ready for the challenge with the Tigers.

"We're going to lock in and watch some film, have better practices," Davies said. "We were kind of sluggish on Tuesday this week, but we're going to come back better and improve for next week."

Courier & Press sports reporter Treasure Washington can be reached via her email, treasure.washington@courierpress.com, and on X, formerly known as Twitter, @Twashington490.