War Eagles best West

Published 10:38 am Thursday, October 13, 2016

CLEMMONS – Davie’s football team picked up more believers, and the War Eagles exorcised another demon during a breakthrough season.

Davie’s vaunted defense kept West Forsyth under its thumb all night, quarterback Chris Reynolds and the offense finally found the big play to gain separation in the fourth quarter and visiting Davie pulled away to a precious victory, 20-3, last Friday in rainy and windy conditions from Hurricane Matthew.

The walking-on-air War Eagles are 7-1 for the first time in 10 years (2006), and they’re 3-0 in the Central Piedmont Conference for the first time in 12 years (2004, when Cooter Arnold and Co. led the last outright championship and a 14-1 record). And they beat West for the first time since 2011, when Adam Smith was the star quarterback. West fell to 5-2, 1-1.

“When I’m 40 years old, this is what I’m going to look back to,” Reynolds said. “It’s a great feeling with my other seniors, guys I’ve grown up with since sixth grade. We’re all going to look back at this and say: ‘Dang, this was one heck of a win.’”

Reynolds delivered a gritty performance in sloppy conditions, accounting for 260 of Davie’s 281 yards by going 17 of 31 for 201 passing yards and adding 65 team-high rushing yards.

“Chris is a leader,” Davie coach DeVore Holman said. “He’s a warrior – not just on the field but in everything he does in life. He’s not going to let us come up short, if he has anything to do with it. They have a heck of a defense. It was a defensive battle, but Chris picked us up and led us to victory.”

As good as the senior QB was, the Davie defense deserves a ton of credit for the fourth payback win of the season, following triumphs over Page, West Rowan and Reagan. It held a fifth opponent to seven points or less.

“Without them, we don’t win this game,” Reynolds said. “They’re the backbone to this team. They deserve all the accolades.”

“The defense was incredible,” offensive tackle Luke Pratapas said. “They won us this game. We’re going to give them some props for that. (This) week we’re going to hopefully put more points on the board for them.”

With Spencer Wilson, Jalen Redmond and Ronald Wilson disrupting West’s flow from their defensive-line spots, West was held to 110 rushing yards, or 2.8 yards per carry. With James Boyle, Cody Hendrix, Broc Barnette, Kinston Whitener and Jack Little swarming from their linebacker positions, West went 2 for 14 on third downs. With Hite Merrifield, Mitchell Ijames, Angel Perez-Hunt and Ta’Saun Martin maintaining responsibilities in the secondary, West QBs Drew Latham and Gianni Smith went a combined 5 of 18 for 42 yards, including two interceptions.

“They’re all different at different things,” Reynolds said. “You’ve got the front four with Spencer, who is always bringing excitement. He’s always into it. He’s always a team player and wants to win. James and Cody are probably the best linebackers around. You’ve got Angel, Hite and all of them. They all bring something to the game.”

Latham looked deep for Marcus Caldwell on West’s third play from scrimmage, and Perez-Hunt made an over-the-shoulder interception at the Davie 33.

West went three-and-out on its second possession. On its third series, Little delivered the hit of the game. Latham slipped a would-be sack at the West 5 and got across the line of scrimmage. But Little body slammed him for a 2-yard gain.

Boyle blitzed up the middle and dropped Caldwell for a 4-yard loss, and Martin nearly had an interception on the next play. Later in the second quarter, Jamon Brown caught a bubble screen, but Barnette wrestled him down for a 5-yard loss. Two plays later, Barnette sacked Latham.

“We’re physical, we play fast, we hustle and we’re football smart,” Perez-Hunt said. “We know what’s going to happen before it even happens.”

The first half was marked by missed opportunities for Davie’s offense.

Reynolds completed 11- and 19-yard passes to Peyton Hampton and Mason Wilson on Davie’s first possession, but West’s 6-6, 225-pound defensive end, K.J. Henry, batted away a third-down pass and Davie punted.

Pass interference against M. Wilson and Adrian Cranfill’s 9-yard reception moved the ball into West territory, but Davie bogged down and punted. Cooper Wall returned a punt 34 yards to the West 30, but Davie went backward and punted.

Davie did break through on its fourth possession, thanks to back-to-back hookups with Wall, who caught a 23-yarder as he was falling at the West 26. Then on a fade route and back-shoulder throw, Wall made a 21-yard catch at the West 5. Reynolds ran it in from there. Jared Griggs missed the extra point as Davie’s lead remained 6-0.

On the TD run, right guard Preston Robertson and right tackle Ross Starnes put a mean double-team on a West lineman and center Bailey Sloan cleared out the nose guard.

“We’re so close to each other,” Starnes said of the OL. “It’s the best o-line I’ve been on since I’ve been playing football.”

Other than that 47-yard scoring drive, Davie’s offense spent the half shooting itself in the foot. With less than two minutes left in the half, Reynolds raced over left tackle for an apparent 51-yard TD – only to see it called back by holding. The next play resulted in an interception as Reynolds went deep to Wall. JaQuan McMillian picked it the West 6.

At halftime, Davie had a decided edge on the stat sheet but only a slim 6-0 lead on the scoreboard – and the Titans had a spring in their step.

Stops by R. Wilson and Hendrix forced a three-and-out to start the second half. West tried to surprise Davie with a reverse to Caldwell, but it only gained 3 yards as Whitener slowed him and Boyle took him to the ground.

Less than three minutes later, Reynolds went over the middle for Beau Byerly, but Zach Brinkley intercepted and returned it 21 yards to the Davie 20.

Instead of wilting when West had a short field with a prime opportunity to take the lead, the Davie defense rose to the moment. On first down, a jet sweep to Caldwell was stopped for a 1-yard gain by Martin and Hendrix. On second down, Smith threw toward the left pylon to Jordan Goco, but Merrifield got his hand up to knock it away. On third down, Perez-Hunt covered up an end-zone fade to Henry. West had to settle for a 37-yard field goal that cut the margin in half, 6-3.

“It was a huge (victory) to force that field goal,” Boyle said. “This is the best set of DBs I’ve ever played with in my career. They played their butts off tonight.”

At the end of the third quarter, West went three-and-out for the fifth time. Hendrix stopped Mack Duke for no gain. Perez-Hunt undercut a receiver the instant the ball arrived, causing an incompletion. On a third-down completion, Barnette stopped Brown 5 yards short of the stick with help from Merrifield, Whitener and Hendrix.

“It’s one of the best defensive games I’ve had in my career,” Boyle said. “We all worked together. All week we were flying around and we were ready to prove to everybody in the CPC that we’re probably one of the best defenses around. That’s what we believe. We believe we can compete with anybody.”

“They studied film, knew what they like to do and were disciplined,” Holman said of his defense.

Davie’s offense grabbed complete control of a game it had to have on its first drive of the fourth quarter. The pivotal moment came on third-and-10. Reynolds threw a laser between two defenders to Byerly, who absorbed a crunching hit at the 37, spun out and picked up an additional 10 yards – the 25-yard play advancing the ball to the Davie 47.

“It was an outside seam,” Byerly said. “Chris always makes a good throw and puts it on a dime. To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to catch it. It was a such a tight window. As soon as I touched the ball, I got hit from both sides.”

“Beau is very sure-handed,” Reynolds said. “I can count on any of them. Yeah, it was a tight window. That corner had been trying to high-low us all game, and I had to try to find a way to get it to him.”

Reynolds ran for 16 and 8 yards on the next two plays.

“We tried to control of the rain, we tried to control the hype and we went out there and did that,” Reynolds said. “We were on a mission to execute the game plan.”

While West limited the explosive Wall to three catches, this night reaffirmed that Davie’s receivers as a whole are darn good. One of them, M. Wilson, played through the roof with game highs in catches (five) and receiving yards (75).

On second-and-10, M. Wilson made a monster reception on a slant. He made a cut at the West 15 to shake off a defender. He was hit at the 5, but he pulled defenders with him as he reached across the goal line for a 26-yard TD that gave Davie breathing room, 13-3, with 9:16 to go.

“We had to put another score on the board to finish this game,” Reynolds said. “Mason is clutch. He really made the second effort to get in the end zone. He’s the biggest team player out there,  and I love him with everything I have.”

“He did a heckuva job,” Byerly said. “He’ll remember this for the rest of his life, and it’s one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had.”

“It was definitely the biggest game I’ve ever played in so far,” M. Wilson said. “We all wanted it so bad. I knew (the play-action) was going to make the linebackers come in. I was waiting on Chris to throw a pretty ball and I was going to get into the end zone.”

The backbreaker came four minutes later on a pick-six by Hendrix. Smith rolled left. He was sandwiched by Boyle and Barnette. Whitener hit Smith as he released the ball. The pass hit Hendrix in the gut. Whitener sprung a lane wide open with a block at the West 45, Hendrix cut back at the 32 to send a defender tumbling to the ground, and he cruised the rest of the way for a 70-yard TD return.

“I dropped back, Broc had (Smith) held up and he was trying to throw it away,” Hendrix said. “It landed right in my arms. It was just a footrace then. I’ve never had that experience before. It was awesome.”

After Perez-Hunt got his second INT of the season, Hendrix became the seventh War Eagle to enjoy a pick. At 20-3, it was all but over as Davie ended a four-game losing streak in the series and achieved the longest wining streak (five) in four years. The 2012 team won five straight in Doug Illing’s 15th and final year as coach.

“I’ve never been happier than when I saw that dude (Hendrix) running down the field. Never,” Little said. “I was pumped.”

Davie        6    0    0    14 – 20

W. Forsyth      0    0    3    0   – 3

First Quarter

D – Reynolds 5 run (kick fail), :18.

Third Quarter

WF – Harkey 37 FG, 4:01.

Fourth Quarter

D – M. Wilson 26 pass from Reynolds (Griggs kick), 9:16.

D – Hendrix 70 INT return (Griggs kick), 5:14.




Rushing 30-86 38-110


C-A-I 17-31-2 8-25-2

Punts 7-26 8-38

F-L 1-0 1-0

Penalties 8-79 4-30

3rd conv. 6/14 2/14



RUSHING – Reynolds 13-65, Hampton 10-17, Cranfill 7-4

PASSING – Reynolds 17-31-2-201

RECEIVING – M. Wilson 5-75, Wall 3-46, Cranfill 3-23, Hampton 3-15, Byerly 2-39, Roberts 1-3

West Forsyth

RUSHING – Duke 17-65, Caldwell 11-38, Latham 8-8, McMillian 2-(-1)

PASSING – Latham 3-7-1-44, Smith 5-18-1-42

RECEIVING – Brown 4-15, Henry 2-49, Caldwell 2-22