Gateway sophomore running back Jaquon Reynolds breaks out against Penn Hills

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Sunday, September 19, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Jaquon Reynolds waited his turn.

The diminutive 5-foot-7, 163-pound sophomore running back put in his time last year as a freshman at Gateway and grew his game under the watchful eye of the Gators coaches as well as veteran players such as Derrick Davis, now playing at LSU.

After an offseason of work where he added nearly 10 pounds, he was able to seize a larger role in the Gateway offense.

In a Week 2 matchup at Penn Hills on Sept. 10, Reynolds broke out.

He rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries in the Gators’ 41-13 victory over the Indians. The win helped Gateway bounce back from a 21-16 loss to Thomas Jefferson in Week 1 on Sept. 3.

Reynolds added three catches for 68 yards against Penn Hills.

“It’s really nice to be a part of the offense with so many weapons,” said Reynolds, who worked to make his mark in the offseason in seven-on-seven action with his Gateway and 412 Elite club teammates.

“A lot of us can make plays.”

Through three games, Reynolds led the team in total rushes with 41 and total rushing yards with 217.

“Jaquon felt he had a legitimate shot to be the guy at that spot, and he got in the right competitive mindset and worked hard for it,” Gateway coach Don Holl said. “He seized his opportunity to be an important part of the offense.”

Reynolds’ first varsity touchdown came late in the first half against Penn Hills when he carried a couple of defenders into the end zone to give Gateway a 27-0 lead.

“It was a great feeling to get that and help the team,” Reynolds said.

He then helped put the game away in the fourth quarter as he rushed six times for 64 yards, including the final 20 yards of the drive for a score as the Gators regained a three-score lead after Penn Hills had scored 13 consecutive points.

“I have a lot of confidence (the offensive line) will open holes for me,” Reynolds said. “It gives me confidence to run hard. When I get the ball, I see a hole open, and I just know I can make a play.”

“He’s a good player,” Holl said of Reynolds after last Friday’s game.

“We trust him. He’s a young guy, but he just keeps getting better every week. I think it says everything when the head coach wants to put the ball in your hands when you need a drive.”

Reynolds coupled his two scores with sophomore quarterback Brad Birch’s three passing touchdowns and one on the ground.

Birch threw for 241 yards against the Indians in the first regular-season meeting between the teams since 2011. His totals against Penn Hills gave him 623 passing yards and seven TDs against five interceptions through three games.

Senior Patrick Body had four catches for 106 yards, all in the first half, against the Indians.

After the win over Penn Hills, Gateway maintained its Trib HSSN No. 2 ranking in Class 5A. Moon was No. 1.

Gateway turns its attention Friday to an intriguing matchup with defending WPIAL and PIAA Class 5A champion Pine-Richland.

The Rams are out of the Trib HSSN Class 5A top five after going 0-3 in a challenging early-season gauntlet against Harrisburg (26-21), Seneca Valley (24-20) and Central Catholic (49-35).

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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