By Brian Pitts
Davie Enterprise Record
The Davie football team’s offense certainly picked a bad time for a bad start. When you’ve got a defense like Davie’s, the offense knows it doesn’t have to light the world on fire. All it has to do is not beat itself.
In the second round of the 4A playoffs against rival Mt. Tabor here Friday, the defense did all any reasonable person could ask for. But the offense committed three turnovers in the first 9:14, and the Spartans capitalized on that and ill-timed penalties to stave off Davie 14-7.
This one’s going to sting until next August. The War Eagles (9-4) found a way to lose by seven or fewer points for the third time in three such games this season. The underdog Spartans, who lost 24-7 on the same field on Oct. 12, improved to 7-5.
“For some reason, offensively we threw up all over ourselves,” Davie coach Doug Illing said. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot.”
An interception and two fumbles ended the first three Davie possessions. The third turnover, and the second fumble in a span of four-plus minutes, cost Davie badly. Tabor took over at the Davie 30 and scored in six plays. One of the aforementioned penalties kept the drive alive. Tabor quarterback Rae Brown threw incomplete on third-and-22 from the Davie 42, but Davie was flagged 15 yards for a late hit on Brown.
This was a defensive slugfest between two storied programs from the Central Piedmont Conference. Davie watched a 10-play drive end with a turnover on downs. Tabor moved the ball for 12 plays, but Billy Gentry was short on a 42-yard field goal.
At the half, Davie’s Cade Carney had as many rushing yards (86) as Tabor had total yards. But Tabor had the 7-0 lead. In fact, the Spartans’ offense struggled all night. They had 123 rushing yards, averaged 2.8 yards per carry and misfired on nine of 12 passes. While Davie’s offense was hardly a masterpiece, it managed 232 rushing yards and averaged 5.6 yards per rushing attempt. Davie missed on 13 of 15 passes, but it finished with 101 more total yards than Tabor.
The difference was Tabor won the ever-important turnover margin 3-1. The Davie defense, which was special all year except in the loss to unbeaten North Davidson, held a 12th opponent to 14 or fewer points. Too bad it wasn’t enough as Tabor drove 30 and 35 yards for its two TDs.
“The defense played great,” Illing said. “Tabor played on our side of the 50 the whole first half, and we never could help them and give them a long field to defend. The defense played their guts out. They did everything they could and more.”
Early in the third, Carney broke a 34-yard run, only to have a dead-ball personal foul back up the play 15 yards. Davie would punt four plays later.
Davie seemed on the verge of something big when it forced the Spartans to punt from their end zone with five minutes left in the third. It turned out to be a big letdown when Davie barely missed a block and wound up roughing the punter for a 15-yard penalty. Davie would have taken over at the Tabor 25.
“We had some penalties that kept drives alive,” Illing said. “The roughing-the-punter was a huge break for them. (When you bust through the middle), sometimes you either get the punt or rough the punter.”
Moments later, Davie was hit with yet another 15-yard flag - this time for pass interference. Even though the Tabor possession didn’t lead to points, it kept the ball for 11 plays, chewed valuable time off the clock and altered field position ...