Davie erases deficit
Published 9:35 am Thursday, September 14, 2017
By Brian Pitts
Davie Enterprise Record
The beginning was ominous for Davie in Friday’s nonconference game at West Rowan. The end turned out just fine as Davie won going away, 42-20.
It was a tremendous showing for the War Eagles to overcome a 14-0 deficit and roll up 32 unanswered points.
The first quarter was frightening. Payne Stolsworth and Jalen Houston connected for two TD passes in the first 8:17 to stake the Falcons to the two-score lead.
Was defensive coordinator Dave Hunt screaming mad?
“He was more calm,” said linebacker Cody Hendrix, who entered Friday sixth in career tackles with 371. “He told us they were going to come out with fire. He asked how we were going to respond. If we were going to lay down or keep our heads up and keep fighting?”
It was still 14-0 on the second play of the second quarter. West was at the Davie 43 and the War Eagles’ backs were against the wall. Stolsworth looked deep for Houston on third down. The tide began to turn when sophomore cornerback Samuel Hendrix, Cody’s cousin, elevated to knock the pass down at the Davie 10.
Davie’s defense was outstanding from that point on. From the 2:07 mark of the first quarter through the third, West’s offense went punt, punt, ball snapped over the punter’s head for a Davie touchdown, punt, punt blocked and punt. The Falcons gained 7 yards in a span of 22 plays. They started 4 of 4 on third-down conversions; they ended 4 of 11. Stolsworth suffered through nine straight incompletions. Credit cornerbacks De’maura “Mo-Mo” Isaac and S. Hendrix and safeties Broc Barnette and Mitchell Ijames
“It didn’t seem like we were playing as a team,” West linebacker Daniel Durham told the Salisbury Post. “When we got the early lead, everyone thought the game was over, that they were just going to die. We couldn’t handle it when they came back.”
“We stayed with the three-man front to help out with the passing game,” C. Hendrix said. “We would blitz a ‘backer to get extra pressure.”
When it was 14-7, Kinston Whitener had a tackle for loss that led to a three-and-out for West. It was 14-10 when a critical sequence occurred. West took possession from its 25 with 1:24 on the clock before halftime. C. Hendrix tackled runner Martavio Rankin behind the line and Davie called the first of three timeouts. After West was called for a 13-yard penalty, Rankin was stopped after a 4-yard gain, and Davie called timeout. Davie burned its last timeout before a fourth-and-10 punting situation. Only 12 seconds remained.
Davie grabbed the lead in unlikely fashion. The snap sailed over the punter, the ball rolling to the goal line. Broc “The Rock” Barnette, who makes a Swiss Army knife look one-dimensional, sped in to pick it up and score a touchdown that put Davie in front 16-14.
Not only did Barnette score on defense, he notched his third interception in three games and he saved a touchdown on the opening kickoff, chasing down Jaden Perry on a 56-yard return to the Davie 40. West would score in five plays, however.
“They may have been a little jittery because they were so close to the goal line,” Barnette said of the defensive TD. “We had a block play on, so we were going for it.”
West’s first series of the third quarter went backward, with C. Hendrix dropping the ball carrier 3 yards back and S. Hendrix and Barnette blanketing Houston on a third-and-13 pass.
Jalen Redmond blocked a punt in the end zone when West snapped the ball from its 3. The grizzled vet knocked the ball out the back of the end zone for a safety and an 18-14 lead.
On back-to-back plays on West’s next possession, S. Hendrix broke up a pass and Barnette made a juggling interception that didn’t count because he was out of bounds when he gained control.
Andy Flores, a backup defensive lineman, buried Stolsworth 13 yards back on a sack. Barnette and S. Hendrix broke up passes on back-to-back plays in the fourth.
West’s only score after the first quarter came on a bubble screen to Houston, who faked a defender and hit the sideline for an 82-yard play with 9:38 to go. He had five catches for 152 yards against Davie and has 265 yards in two games. It was the longest pass play against Davie in three years.
“No. 10 is a great player,” coach Tim Devericks said. “He’s only a sophomore, so (West coach Joe Nixon’s) got a lot to look forward to there. We had one missed tackle on the play. But again, 10 is a special player. It takes all 11 rallying around the ball to get that guy on the ground.”
Houston’s third TD hardly fazed Davie, which answered with the game’s final 10 points. Barnette’s pick and 26-yard return set up Davie’s fifth TD by five different players.
“Broc’s a ball hawk,” Devericks said. “I love having him on the back end.”
Junior Skyler Schoppe had never attempted a varsity field goal when he lined up for a 32-yarder with 1:34 left in the first half and Davie trailing 14-7. He drilled it to add to Davie’s momentum. He added a 20-yarder with 6:49 remaining to boost Davie’s lead to 35-20.
Think about that. He went from 0 for 0 to 2 for 2 in big spots.
“Skyler and Willy (Moure) battle every day at practice,” Devericks said. “Coach (David) Wooldridge is working with them on their techniques, and Skyler showed tonight if he focusses on his techniques he can pick up big points for us.”
Schoppe’s only successful field goals in two JV years came in the 2016 finale, when he made two in a 45-40 win over Parkland.
“I’ve been kicking since seventh grade at North Davie,” Schoppe said. “I actually have an article written about me in seventh grade when we were in a double-overtime nailbiter against Forbush (North won 30-22). I had to kick (extra points) in order to keep us in the game, and that’s kind of where I get my confidence from. I think back to that and it boosts my confidence and gets me going. I think I only kicked one field goal in middle school and it was only 15 yards.”
It starts with sophomore snapper Grant Copeland. Then you’ve got senior holder Ben Summers.
“I’ve also got to give it to the people on the front blocking for me,” Schoppe said. “Without them, the field goal wouldn’t be able to happen. It’s a team effort. Hopefully there’s more to come.”
Davie’s offense looked rather better in its fourth outing. During a 42-6 onslaught from the second quarter on, the maligned offensive line was rising up and giving Josh Hall time to survey the field. Ross Starnes and Preston Robertson are seniors up front. They are teamed with three sophomores (Copeland, Owen Brown and Tanner Batten).
After converting a meager three third downs against Page, North Davidson and Mooresville, Davie had eight conversions Friday, resulting in the most points against West in 11 years (47-37 win in 2006).
“We had a lot of (successful) pass plays tonight, and give credit to the o-line,” Devericks said. “It was great protection.”
While the passing game flourished, the ground game showed signs of life. After the run game was a non-factor for three weeks (34 yards on average), Peyton Hampton, Josh Robinson and Adrian Cranfill pounded for 96 yards between them. Hampton broke the longest run of the year (23 yards).
Notes: So, get this: In the War Eagles’ last trip to West in ‘15, they bolted to a 14-0 lead before losing 35-14. … Last year the War Eagles ended a seven-game losing streak in the series. This time they stopped a six-game losing streak on West’s field. This was the first win at West since 2003. … Davie has dropped 83 points on West in two years.