Davie falls short in wild football opener

Published 9:41 am Thursday, August 23, 2018

GREENSBORO – Davie’s football team scored 21 of the first 27 points. Page responded with 22 unanswered points. Davie forced a tie at 28 in miraculous fashion, thanks to Gage Recktenwald, who blocked a field goal, Davie’s third blocked kick of the night; Matt Hill, who picked up the ball that Recktenwald blocked and later pitched it to Kristian Lyons, who dashed to the end zone. The Pirates scored the tiebreaking touchdown with 2:02 to play.

Other than that, Friday’s season opener at Page was pretty uneventful.

Page escaped 35-28. For Davie, there’s no shame in that result. Page (39-7 record since 2015) is loaded with experienced playmakers. Even though Davie is very young (zero senior starters on offense), it has a pretty good roster itself. The teams treated fans to a thriller.

“I knew what we had,” coach Tim Devericks said. “We’re going to be a good team. This is just the end of the first chapter. We’ll build upon this and keep writing our book.”

Any assumption about a Page wipeout evaporated over the first 13 minutes. Davie was on the board within one minute, 25 seconds. Page’s Isaiah Fisher-Smith fumbled the opening kickoff and Zach Smith recovered at the Page 26. Nate Hampton, a sophomore quarterback seeing the varsity lights for the first time, engineered a touchdown drive, completing a third-and-5 pass to sophomore Ben Crenshaw for 6 yards and stepping up in the pocket on third-and-18 and finding freshman Tate Carney for 19 yards. Josh Robinson – following blocks by freshman left tackle Camden Beck, junior left guard Tanner Batten and junior center Grant Copeland – scored from the 4. Skyler Schoppe, who was perfect on extra points, added the kick for a 7-0 lead.

After starting 7 for 12, Page’s defense slowed Hampton’s passing as the game progressed as he finished 12 of 28 for 85 yards. But Hampton (6-5 1/2, 225 pounds) did not looked overwhelmed and was good at ball security (no turnovers).

“He made some good reads and good throws,” Devericks said. “He’s going to learn. Nate’s a positive kid and he’s going to come back and be super excited. I told him: ‘Don’t be down on yourself.’ He wants to be perfect. There’s a long way to go.”

Davie’s 7-0 lead was short-lived. Cody King broke a 94-yard return on the ensuing kickoff. Isaiah Cuthrell blocked the PAT, the first of three blocked kicks, to keep Davie ahead 7-6.

Nate’s older brother, senior Peyton Hampton, was a man on a mission, booming a 57-yard punt from the back of Davie’s end zone and making two tackles for loss in a span of four plays from his new middle linebacker position. Ronald Wilson’s minus-2 tackle and Hunter Meacham’s stop on a fourth-and-5 play that gained 4 yards forced a punt.

“Peyton has done really well, working hard to play linebacker,” Devericks said. “Him and Matt King are two huge cogs on our defense. Kudos to those guys for gutting it out. They played a lot of plays on defense.”

A trick play worked beautifully on a first-down play from Page’s 25. Crenshaw took a handoff and was headed around right end. He pulled up and lofted a TD rainbow to a wide-open Jack Reynolds.

“We had a few (tricks) in the bag,” Devericks said. “We needed another spark and we just went to it.”

Devericks was asked if Crenshaw is an accurate passer in practice. “He thinks he is,” he said with a laugh. “That one was on the money. He scared me; I thought he was going to hold on to it too long.”

Tackles by P. Hampton and Meacham forced a three-and-out. Then came the next big play on special teams. Lyons blocked a punt. The ball pinballed toward the goal line. P. Hampton and Hill were in hot pursuit with only one red jersey in the vicinity. Hill fell on it in the end zone to bump Davie’s lead to 21-6 in the first minute of the second quarter.

“When you block (an extra point, a punt and a field goal), you shouldn’t lose,” Devericks said. “We really dominated in the special teams game.”

Page’s turnaround began after a fourth-and-2 play from the Pirate 33. Carney got around left end for 10 yards, only to see it called back by a holding penalty. Davie would have been threatening to extend its 15-point lead.

The Pirates, who had one first down on their first four possessions, got three in a span of four plays, scoring on QB Javondra Paige’s 30-yard run to cap a 72-yard drive. On their next offensive series, Page drove 57 yards, scoring on Paige’s 15-yard fade to Lawson Albright, whose father Ethan played in the NFL. Page, which failed to execute all three PATs in the first half, cut Davie’s halftime lead to 21-18.

Linebacker Damian Garcia’s sack forced a Page punt in the third, but Davie’s sputtering offense punted it right back. After Lyons stuffed a jet sweep to set up third-and-9, Page took its first lead on a home-run ball. With Bishop Norman and King in his face, Paige, moving left, threw across his body. Busted coverage left Ford Moser wide open, resulting in a 61-yard TD and a 25-21 Davie deficit.

“(Moser) was a guy all the way from the back side,” Devericks said. “Our corners saw (Paige) was outside the numbers and the receiver was drifting to the middle of the field. Not too many kids can make that throw all the way back across the field.”

Carney delivered the finest 2-yard run you’ll ever see on a third-and-1 play from Davie’s 19. He was popped by two Pirates three yards behind the line of scrimmage, kept his feet churning and spun loose for a first down. Unfortunately, the run of the night did not lead to a productive drive.

Carney is a 190-pound freshman who proved he belongs with the big dogs.

“They ran a little game up front and (Carney) had pressure right away,” Devericks said. “He just put his head down and kept gettin’ it. That was big for us at that time. He’s a big asset to our team.”

Paige, a 6-1, 210-pound bulldozer, ran 3 yards to convert a fourth-and-2 from Davie’s 17, and Matt Chmil nailed a 35-yard field goal to bump Page’s lead to 28-21 early in the fourth.

A few minutes later, Paige (22 carries for 147 yards and 166 passing yards) jabbed Davie again on fourth-and-7 from the Davie 27, looking to pass, stepping away from Caleb Steele and dumping it off to running back Sincere Davis for 9 yards.

“We’ve got our eyes on the quarterback, thinking we’ve got to come and help,” Devericks said. “He’s got the athletic ability to scramble around, buy time and buy time and find somebody. The running back saw him scrambling and he leaked out. In that situation, it’s hard to keep coverage eyes on him.”

Meacham had a tackle at the line of scrimmage, and Albright failed to reel in what would have been a TD pass. But Page still could have sealed Davie’s fate with a successful field goal.

Chmil’s try was from 32 yards. A startling play revived Davie. Recktenwald, a sophomore safety, blocked it. Hill scooped and ran several yards. As he was getting tackled, he pitched it back. Lyons fielded a one-hopper and had 59 yards of daylight. Davie fans were not hallucinating. It was really happening. Lyons scored with 6:20 on the clock.

“I just did what I thought I had to do,” Hill, a junior outside linebacker said. “It just kind of happened. I didn’t see (Lyons). I just threw it up and hoped that somebody was behind me. I looked up and saw Kristian taking it down the field. It was crazy. I was so happy.”

“I was running down the sideline cheering on my teammate,” Lyons, a sophomore cornerback, said. “I was saying: ‘Thank you, God, that we blocked the kick.’ In my mind, there was a little thought: ‘Please, lateral it to me.’ It somehow got to me. I was like: Thank the Lord.’ It was a perfect one bounce off the ground and into my hands. And I just ran like dogs were chasing me and didn’t look back.”

Davie still needed Schoppe to come through. With Copeland snapping and Reynolds holding, the senior kicker split the uprights to tie the score.

“Their guys were jumping around on the other side,” Devericks said. “Skyler did a great job of keeping his head down and trusting his mechanics.”

An upset on the road, though, wasn’t meant to be. On fourth-and-11 from the Davie 22, Paige made another monster play. When Andy Flores flushed him out of the pocket, he tucked the ball and ran for 14 yards. Two plays later, he scored from 10 yards out, capping a 10-play, 65-yard drive to put his team ahead 35-28 with only 2:02 to go.

“Their quarterback is outstanding,” Devericks said. “He knows when to throw the jump ball and when to keep it. He’s real good about decision-making.”

After the smoking start, Davie’s offense experienced growing pains, finishing with 133 yards to Page’s 324. But all in all, it’s hard not to view the overall effort in a positive light.

“We’ve got a lot of playmakers we’re trying to get the ball to, and we’ll get better from this,” Devericks said.

Home Opener

Davie’s home opener against North Davidson on Friday at 7:30 p.m. shapes up as another measuring stick. The 2-A Black Knights went 13-2 last year, reaching the state semifinals, and opened their ‘18 season with a 21-0 smothering of Mt. Tabor.

Davie’s offense will get a stern test; North returned 11 defensive starters from ‘17. North’s offense was nothing special against Tabor – the Spartans outgained North 251-209 – but it didn’t need to be.

Jackson Perrell’s 61-yard pick-6 gave North a 7-0 lead. That was the halftime score even though Tabor made three trips inside the red zone in the first half.

In the fourth, North pushed the lead to 14-0 on Kobe Brown’s 10-yard run. North second-year coach Brian Flynn used two quarterbacks – Themus Fulks and Landon Moore – although Moore played most of the second half while Fulks played defense. They had four completions each for 101 combined yards.

“The defense carried us,” Flynn told The Dispatch. “They lived up to the hype.”

North thumped Davie 28-7 last year and the Knights lead the all-time series 27-23.