Hall throws for 250 in win over West Rowan

Published 9:34 am Thursday, September 14, 2017

MT. ULLA – Josh Hall gives every kid at the end of the bench, every backup quarterback who barely gets on the field for an entire season … faith. Faith that when he finally gets his chance that he can show them.

The Davie football team’s offense looked easy to stop against Page, North Davidson and Mooresville. While Davie beat Mooresville, the 34-13 win by built by the defense and special teams.

But the offense showed up in a big way in Friday’s nonconference game at West Rowan (1-2). Hall, who served an apprenticeship under record-breaking QB Chris Reynolds in ‘16, threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns without a turnover as the War Eagles torched West 42-20 to square their record at 2-2. Hall, who came in averaging five completions for 56 yards, completed 14 of 28 in a performance that probably changed his – and the offensive unit’s – season.

“Those guys improve every week,” coach Tim Devericks said of the offense. “We ask them to take a step every week. Give credit to the offensive staff for pushing their guys, and they’re starting to execute those things on the game field.”

Hall produced the most passing yards in nine games (Reynolds threw for a record 413 in a 45-42 win over North Davidson on Oct. 14, 2016). It marked the 24th 250-yard passing game in Davie’s 62-year history. His 3 TD passes went to three different targets (Adrian Cranfill, Jack Reynolds and Mason Wilson).

His pocket presence and reads are getting better. His mental clock was on point as he occasionally rolled out to buy time. He threw the ball away to avoid negative plays. He demonstrated that if you give him time, he can definitely spin it.

“The coachees have been on me about not being very confident,” Hall said. “They told me to stop wishing the ball would go to a certain area or spot and make it go there instead. It finally worked.”


The first quarter was abysmal for the War Eagles. On the game’s fifth play from scrimmage, West quarterback Payne Stolsworth connected with stud sophomore Jalen Houston in the right corner of the end zone for a 23-yard TD.

Davie went backward and punted. Stolsworth moved the chains with a 14-yard complettion on third-and-11. Two plays later, he rolled right and found Houston again in the end zone, this time for a 12-yard score. Although West lost to Mooresville by 26 and Davie beat Mooresville by 21, it was 14-0 less than nine minutes in.

At this point, West had 86 yards on two possessions. Stolsworth was 5 of 5 for 63 yards, and Houston looked unstoppable.

“Our mindset was not where it needs to be, and I’ll take the blame for that,” Devericks said. “We were just going through the motions. West Rowan is a good team. (Defensively) we had to focus on our techniques. We were just sort of standing around. You can’t do that at this level. We’ve got to learn how to play this game with the right emotion and the right intensity. I’ve got to coach that more during the week.”

Davie’s defense pulled off a 180 turnaround, starting on a third-and-9 bomb from Davie’s 43. Stolsworth went up top for Houston. (Why not? He had been doing whatever he wanted.) Sophomore cornerback Samuel Hendrix climbed a ladder to knock the ball away at the Davie 10.

“Sam made a huge play,” Devericks said. “We talked all week about they’re going to try to run two verticals. You’ve got to split them both and make a play on the ball. He did a great job of it.”

Moments later, it was third-and-6 from Davie’s 20. The War Eagles’ offense was on the ropes and in desperate need of a play. Sophomore receiver Evan Little provided a game-changing play on a take route, making a 25-yard reception and holding on despite absorbing a vicious hit.

“Evan went up and made a play,” Devericks said. “It was a big momentum-changer.”

“That was a real big play,” Hall said. “Coach Devericks came up to us after the first quarter and told us we had to change something. I think that helped a lot.”

“The guy was playing man, so I had to get inside of him,” Little said. “We weren’t executing anything. We got some momentum after that. I didn’t see that safety coming. I was focussed on the ball and that’s all I saw.”

Little’s courageous catch set in motion a 15-play, 84-yard drive. Hall hit Wilson for 13 yards, Little for eight and Reynolds for 10. On third-and-goal from the 1, Peyton Hampton walked in untouched to put Davie on the board.

An avalanche was coming.

On first down in Davie’s next series, Hall rolled right and found Reynolds for 12 yards. West was guilty of holding Wilson, then flagged for interfering with Ty Dockery. Hampton ran a pop route from the H-back spot and made a 7-yard reception. Davie settled for a field goal, and junior Skyler Schoppe nailed the 32-yarder on his first varsity attempt to cut the gap to 14-10.

Broc Barnette scored on a sudden-change play with 11 seconds left in the half. The snapper airmailed it over the West punter, the ball skipping to the goal line, where Barnette had an easy scoop and score. The kick failed, but Davie had a 16-14 lead at the half.

In the third quarter, Little caught a slant, spun awway from DB Josiah Dixon and picked up 27 yards to the West 11. Davie’s hammer team failed on a fourth-and-1 run from the 2, but that negative was erased four plays later when West was attempting a punt from its end zone. Jalen Redmond blocked it, the richochet going out of the end zone for a safety and an 18-14 Davie lead.

West was wilting. Davie’s Kinston Whitener recovered a fumble by the punt returner at the West 24. In no-man’s land, Davie went for it on fourth-and-13 from the 27. Cranfill, lined up at H-back,  ran a seam route. Hall put the ball where it needed to be for a TD and 25-14 lead.

“It was something the offensive staff saw before halftime, that we could maybe hit one of the running backs down the seam,” Devericks said. “The o-line gave great protection and Josh was able to find him.

“The whole offensive unit is progressing. It starts with the o-line and Josh making the right reads. He’s still got some things to work on. He missed some guys. But at the same time, he’s executing at a higher level now.”

It was late in the third quarter and Hall was just getting warmed up. Wilson, who was dynamic with six catches for 119 yards, reeled in a fade pass for 40 yards – the longest play of the season. Three plays later, Reynolds made a terrific catch as he was falling down for a 15-yard TD. Davie’s flurry had reached 32 unanswered points.

“I told Bum (offensive coordinator Todd Bumgarner) on the headset: ‘I see that (from Reynolds) every day in one-on-one, so I was glad to see it against somebody else besides us,’” Devericks said.

“All we need is to climb closer to that top of the mountain every week,” offered Reynolds.

Hall tucked the ball and picked up 12 yards, with 15 more tacked on due to a late hit. Then Hall and Wilson connected for 34. Schoppe came on to hit a 20-yard field goal.

Barnette’s third interception in three weeks set up Davie’s final score, a 15-yard pass to Wilson with 5:48 left.

“We were set up with some great plays with the defenses they were running, and I was just trying to make the right read and find the right guys to throw to,” Hall said. “We finally started doing what we’re supposed to be doing. We started playing with an edge.”