With his team safely ahead, 24-0, against visiting Glenelg on Friday night, Reservoir head coach Bryan Cole was able to rest his starters as the last few minutes ticked off the clock.
It was an unlikely scenario for a team that started the season with back-to-back losses to Mt. Hebron and Atholton. In fact, even Cole was a little bit surprised.
"We kept playing well and we kept expecting something bad to happen that we'd have to respond to, but our guys played pretty sound and the game kind of took turns for us," Cole said. "We were always worried because their (coaching) staff is pretty good."
The Reservoir defense held Glenelg to four rushing yards in the first half, and 22 for the game. The Gators stopped Glenelg ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage nine times — including sacking QB Mark Darden four times in the first half for a loss of 30 yards — and Cameron Brooks and James Simms each intercepted passes.
"We came out and told ourselves we need to be aggressive in general, we knew if we were aggressive we would win," Simms said. "So we just came out and started hitting them on defense."
And on offense, running back Robert Armstrong led the way, gaining 95 yards on 15 carries.
Simms (-22) and safety Alex Alli (-15) each had two sacks for almost 40 lost yards.
"We've got Simms in there at middle linebacker ... and you've got to get the ball off fast because he gets through and he's in your face," Cole said.
Glenelg's best scoring chance came early in the second quarter, when the Gladiators drove the ball all the way to the Reservoir ten-yard line after a 40-yard Brent Richardson kickoff return. But the drive ended with a missed 30-yard field goal.
Reservoir responded with a quick nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass from Max Schuster to Simms, giving the Gators a 14-0 halftime lead.
"We always say at halftime that scoreboard says 0-0, every game," Simms said.
The second half featured more of the same, as Reservoir's aggressive defense thwarted Glenelg again and again.
A 23-yard Austin Marsh field goal in the third quarter, and a short-run by Schuster early in the fourth quarter accounted for the final score.
The Gators held Glenelg to only nine first downs in the game, and stopped the Gladiators four times on fourth-down conversion attempts.
"As weeks go on our personnel just gets better and better," Cole said. "Tonight everything just kept rolling and our kids became more confident."
The Gators shut out three opponents last season, but Glenelg had not been held scoreless since a week one loss to Atholton last season.
"They outplayed us, they deserved to win, they played a great game," Glenelg coach Butch Schaffer said. "We were just outplayed in every facet of the game."
Glenelg's David Brookhart intercepted a pass in the first quarter to end Reservoir's first drive, and receiver Christian Salandra caught three passes for 46 yards.
Last October, Reservoir defeated Glenelg, 19-13, in overtime.
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