Davie falls short in epic near miss

Published 10:26 am Thursday, October 19, 2017

CLEMMONS – One foot. Just one lousy foot. Davie’s football team was one foot from a first down inside the West Forsyth 5-yard line in the final minute of Friday’s Central Piedmont Conference battle on the Titans’ home field.

One foot was what the War Eagles needed from the West 4. Unbeaten West was clinging to a 20-17 lead. Davie coach Tim Devericks had a decision to make: Attempt a game-tying field goal and play for overtime, or go for the dagger. Devericks chose the latter.

West (8-0, 2-0 CPC) stuffed the run play and jumped around in celebration. The War Eagles (4-4, 1-1) were devastated by the 20-17 defeat. They showed the fight and tenacity of a league contender, played their guts out and came within an eyelash of pulling a huge shocker.

West coach Adrian Snow breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

“All these jokers that paid six dollars to get in here, they all could say: ‘Oh, they did this wrong,’” he said. “But let me tell you what: You stand down there and make the call. I’d love for him to stand there at your work and go: ‘Oh, what did you do?’ If they’d got the first down, they would all say it was a great call. It’s the nature of the beast. He understands that. He’s truly a good man. I really think a lot of him.”

There were two timeouts taken between the third- and fourth-down plays.

“You look in your kids’ eyes,” Devericks said. “They said: ‘Coach, don’t kick this field goal. Don’t kick the field goal.’ I thought about it again. Two other people said: ‘Coach, don’t kick the field goal.’ Give credit to their guys. They stood up and made a play. I trusted my kids. I’ve got their back. They came out here and laid their heart on the line, and I wanted to go with them. It was the right call.”

Two raging defenses dominated the first half. There were eight punts. Davie had no points and 93 yards. West had 150 yards and seven points.

Davie had the first shot at getting on the board. On its second possession, quarterback Josh Hall squeezed a throw over a cornerback and in front of a safety to Mason Wilson for 25 yards. On the next play, receiver Cooper Wall took a slant pass for 17 yards to the West 24. On fourth-and-10 from the 24, Wall ran a post route and dove in the back of the end zone, barely unable to reel in the bomb.

West’s first opportunity for a big play was a deep ball to C.J. Graham. Cornerback Samuel Hendrix got a hand in at the last second to knock it out of Graham’s hands.

On West’s third series, QB Drew Latham got a short pass off just before getting blindsided by defensive tackle Jalen Redmond. JaQuan McMillian turned it into a 55-yard catch-and-run to the Davie 18. Four plays later, Mack Duke (18 carries for 119 yards) scored from the 4, and West had the 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, West faced fourth-and-1 at the Davie 16. Snow decided to go for it, calling an inside run to Duke. Hunter Meacham and Cody Hendrix smothered him at the line of scrimmage.

Late in the half, West dodged a bullet on a pass in the left flats to G’mone Wilson. Safety Broc Barnette came up and nearly intercepted. He would have walked in for a pick-six.

At the start of the third quarter, the War Eagles gritted their teeth and grabbed the momentum. Defensive tackle Anthony Olmedo dropped Duke behind the line. Two plays later, Olmedo and Ronald Wilson sacked Latham.

The Davie offense fed off that defensive statement. Hall threw a little high over the middle to Wall, but he went up and made a 9-yard reception. Peyton Hampton burst 14 yards over right tackle. Jaylon McMillion was flagged for pass interference against Wall, moving Davie to the West 17. After a third-down sack, Devericks called on kicker Skyler Schoppe, who put Davie on the board with a 37-yard field goal. It was his fifth successful FG in six tries for the unheralded junior, and the longest of his career.

Redmond disrupted a jet sweep to Wilson and Barnette was the closest player to a third-down pass as West went three-and-out. Hall and Wall converted a third-and-3. H-back Ben Summers and Wilson blocked on the edge as Josh Robinson took an option pitch and roared 20 yards. With a late-hit penalty tacked on, Davie was a the West 5. Hampton scored from the 2 as Davie claimed a 10-7 lead.

A ground game that came in averaging an unimpressive 58.5 yards per game came alive for 135. Robinson, who was averaging 24 yards a game, broke loose for 88, the most in 10 games. Hampton, who was averaging 29 yards, pounded out 53 while running behind center Grant Copeland, tackles Ross Starnes and Zach Clubb and rotating guards Preston Robertson, Owen Brown and Tanner Batten.

“It’s been a work in progress,” Devericks said. “It’s starting to gain traction. Having the same 5-6 guys (on the OL) all the time is what adds to that.”

West’s All-America outside linebacker/defensive end, K.J. Henry, made a cameo appearance at tight end, and a Latham pass hit the 6-6, 235-pounder in the hands. But he bobbled it and S. Hendrix secured the deflection as he stumbled to the turf, the first varsity pick for the sophomore. An upset was brewing.

On first down, Hampton barrelled for 8 yards. A turning point came on second-and-2 at the West 31 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Davie was called for holding on a pass play, a 14-yard penalty, and Davie would punt from the 35.

After seeing two TDs in the first 39 minutes, the teams produced three TDs in a span of 4:26.

“A defensive battle turned into an offensive shootout,” Devericks said. “I think that’s due to both teams pounding on each other for so long. There were some missed tackles on both sides of the ball.”

“I’d like to give six dollars to watch the fourth quarter,” Snow said. “It’s kind of crazy. Both of us are playing real good defensively and trying to find ourselves offensively. And then all of a sudden, it’s on in the fourth quarter.”

Duke got around left end for 40 yards. Wilson squirted through the right side for an 8-yard score to cap an 86-yard drive that included seven running plays. A bad snap prevented Matthew Harkey from getting off the PAT, so West’s lead was 13-10.

On the ensuing kickoff, C. Hendrix hurled a block and M. Wilson delivered two blocks as Wall returned it 47 yards to midfield. West was hit with a personal foul at the end of the play, putting Davie at the West 35. On first down, pulling-guard Brown opened a lane and Robinson used a spin move at the 25 to shake off three Titans. The result was a scintillating 35-yard TD that put Davie ahead 17-13 with 8:09 to go.

Fans were witnessing an all-time thriller in the storied rivalry. C. Hendrix and Meacham wrecked a jet sweep for minus-5, but Gianni Smith found Thomas Laws for 13 yards on third-and-12. Then Smith went deep to Graham. Davie safety Mitchell Ijames laid the wood, but Graham managed to hold on for a 33-yard reception.

“Unbelievable,” Snow said. “We had talked about that play at halftime. C.J.’s just a sophomore, a really good player. He missed one early on a deep ball. We tried to be patient and come back to it. We were running the post off the jet (sweep) and we hit the dang thing.”

On third-and-3 from the Davie 10, Smith’s hard count drew a d-lineman offsides. Then Duke broke a tackle in the backfield to score a 5-yard TD that made it 20-17 with 4:05 to go.

“What a great high school football game,” Snow said. “I don’t expect anything less (against Davie). This is the 10th time we’ve played since I’ve been here, and pretty much all of them have been one score (difference) in the fourth quarter.”

Now it was Davie’s turn to charge down the field. Wilson got it started with a 30-yard kickoff return. On third-and-8, a bubble screen to Wall went for 10 yards. Wilson’s 15-yard reception on a curl route moved the chains to the West 33.

On third-and-9, Wilson displayed an amazing level of athleticism to make a leaping, spinning, offbalance grab with defender Davis Bishop in his pocket at the 19. Wilson fought for 6 additional yards for a gain of 19 to the West 13. If Davie prevails, it goes down as a catch for the ages.

“It’s all about making plays,” Snow said. “He made a heck of a play.”

Robinson ran over left side for 5 yards. Then he ran up the middle for 4 yards. The gritty underdog was about shackle a team ranked 12th in the state. (Davie was ranked 53rd.)   

On third-and-1, Hall faked a handoff to Robinson and headed left. Henry, the Shrine Bowler being recruited by Alabama, Clemson and Georgia and one of the nation’s top five recruits according to ESPN, didn’t bite on the fake. Henry got Hall from behind and a teammate assisted on the tackle at the line of scrimmage.

“(Henry) made (Hall) bubble a little bit more than he wanted to, and their team pursuit was able to get there,” Devericks said.

“He went to K.J.’s side and those long arms helped out,” Snow said. “He held him up and gave us a chance to get in there and rally the troops.”

Everything hung in the balance on fourth-and-inches. Davie called timeout. When Snow noticed Schoppe was not on the field, he called timeout.

“My job during that time was to see if they put the kicker on the field,” Snow said. “We thought they were going to kick. At that point, it became an issue and then we had to call timeout to make sure we get our stuff straight.”

In the throat-in-mouth moment from the shadow of the end zone, Hall handed off to Robinson, who didn’t see room up the middle and bounced left. It didn’t work. Two guys, including Giovanni Ricciardi, were there to stop Robinson for no gain.

“I think they tried to bust it up in there and he kind of went out,” Snow said. “That dog (Ricciardi) will hunt. I mean he’s a heck of a player.”

“We knew what was coming,” Ricciardi said told the Winston-Salem Journal. “I read it the whole way. Everyone knew in the stadium who was getting the ball.”

“That was absolutely fantastic,” Duke told the Journal. “Everybody stepped up when they needed to. It was just a brawl and it turned out to be in our favor.”

On the visitors’ side, the War Eagles played their guts out in an epic near-miss.

“It should sting because our kids laid their heart on the line,” Devericks said. “I’m so proud of them. There is a bright future ahead for us.”

Davie        0    0    10  7  – 17

W. Forsyth      7    0    0   13 – 20

First Quarter

WF – Duke 4 run (Harkey kick), :35.

Third Quarter

D – Schoppe 37 FG, 5:05.

D – Hampton 2 run (Schoppe kick), :54.

Fourth Quarter

WF – Wilson 8 run (run fail), 8:31.

D – Robinson 35 run (Schoppe kick), 8:09.

WF – Duke 5 run (Harkey kick), 4:05.




Rushing 32-135 41-154

Passing 141 157

C-A-I 13-26-1 8-16-1

Punts 6-31 5-34

F-L 0-0 1-1

Penalties 3-24 6-42

3rd conv. 6/15 4/10



RUSHING – Robinson 12-88, Hampton 13-53, Cranfill 1-0, Hall 6-(-6)

PASSING – Hall 13-26-1-141

RECEIVING – Wall 5-48, Wilson 4-66, Robinson 2-18, Summers 1-5, Hampton 1-4

West Forsyth

RUSHING – Duke 18-119, Wilson 14-36, Latham 6-0, Smith 3-(-1)

PASSING – Latham 3-5-1-91, Smith 5-11-0-66

RECEIVING – McMillian 3-66, Graham 2-43, Duke 1-29, Goco 1-6, Laws 1-13