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Classic in Clemmons: Davie upsets West

CLEMMONS – A three-loss Davie football team that was a 29-point underdog – according to Massey Ratings – couldn’t win on a juggernaut’s home field, but it did.

A Davie team that fell behind unbeaten West Forsyth 68 seconds into the game and trailed 14-3 less than four minutes in couldn’t rally for a shock-the-state upset, but it did.

With quarterback Nate Hampton and receiver Jack Reynolds delivering magician-like stuff – and a ton of teammates providing considerable support – the War Eagles pulled out a fever dream of a game, 37-34, last Friday in Clemmons.

The Titans, who a week ago celebrated a 41-38 win over East Forsyth in a colossal showdown of unbeatens, slipped to 7-1 overall and 1-1 in the Central Piedmont Conference. Davie, which had lost six of seven in the series, improved to 5-3, 2-0.

There was nothing fluky about it. The War Eagles racked up 30 first downs, 518 total yards, went 9 of 15 on third-down conversions, moved the chains on 3 of 4 fourth-down tries and did not punt until 2:52 to go when leading by 10.

The Titans countered with 26 first downs, 470 yards and went 11 of 15 on third-down conversions. The Davie defense withstood G’Mone Wilson’s 145 rushing yards and Zy Dillard’s 84.

Davie coach Tim Devericks said: “The kids had that belief. Even though the (3-3 nonconference) results weren’t what we wanted, they knew there were good things there and they kept believing in each other.”

Cornerback Justice Redmon: “Man, it was just us sticking together and playing four quarters for once.”

Left guard Tanner Batten: “My heart is pumping like crazy right now. I’m happy for the team.”

Hampton had thrown for 411, 388 and 340 yards earlier this season, but what he did in this one was more amazing. He went 30 of 38 for 304 yards with three TD passes, setting a program record for completions. As if that wasn’t enough, he rushed for 72 yards and a TD. Devericks said this game showed Hampton’s growth. If the big plays weren’t there, he took the check-down routes.   

“This has been a growing process for Nate,” Devericks said. “He has the physical tools, but now the mental is catching up with the physical. He has patience and calmness about him, going through his progressions, going to the next read, knowing when to get rid of it and knowing when I can put that ball in there.”

Reynolds had a superhero game: 15 catches for 180 yards and two TDs. He broke the record for single-game receptions.

“That’s Jack being Jack,” Devericks said. “Our DBs are happy that somebody else gets to see that.”

The Titans had blown through seven victims without much stress (the average score was 43-11), and they seemed headed in the same direction in the early going on their homecoming. Davie kicked off to start the game, and on second down, receiver Stephan McMillian broke a tackle and sped 54 yards to the Davie 14. Wilson was barely touched on a 9-yard TD.

The War Eagles drove from their 28 to the West 13, but they settled for a field goal. Willy Moure was right down the middle from 27 yards.

On the ensuing kickoff, Nasion Johnson got to the edge. The kicker was the only man to beat. When a block cleared out Moure, Johnson had a 78-yard TD. With 8:08 left in the first quarter, Davie was staggered at 14-3.

Devericks: “They hit some home runs. I tried to tell them at the beginning of the game: ‘The game is not won in the first quarter or first half. It’s a four-quarter game. Weather the storm and win the next play.’”

Showing incredible resolve, the War Eagles went on a 34-13 run. It was ignited by a 14-play, 70-yard march. Hampton’s 8-yard pass to Josh Robinson converted third-and-6, Hampton’s feet converted third-and-3 and Tate Carney’s 17-yard reception put Davie in the red zone. Hampton faked a handoff to Robinson and picked up 10 yards to the West 4. Switching to the Wildcat on second-and-goal, Carney took a direct snap and scored. A high snap on the PAT left the score 14-9.

You know this already, but Carney is a special talent who produced 101 rushing yards, 59 receiving yards and two TDs. On Davie’s first offensive play, he snatched a snap that sailed high, shook a defender in the backfield and gained 20 yards.

Hampton: “Tate is just an all-around athlete. He can make plays however, whenever.”

Linebacker Gage Recktenwald dropped Wilson for minus-2, the Titans punted and Reynolds made 20- and 28-yard receptions. The 28-yarder on fourth-and-8 was sensational. He climbed the ladder between two defenders, got popped and held on for first-and-goal at the 7.

But Davie wasted the golden opportunity by failing to score on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Instead of Davie being ahead, the Titans were driving for a two-score lead. Enter Redmon, who made a game-changing play after West had moved from its 2 to the Davie 45. QB Jalen Ferguson went long. Redmon reached out and tipped the ball. He grabbed the deflection. The interception – the only turnover of the game – was a thing of beauty.

Redmon: “I looked back and I had to do something. I tipped it up and had to come back and get it. I guess I’m long enough to do that.”

Devericks: “It’s really hard on defensive backs when it’s such a run-heavy game to stay in it mentally. He was in the right spot and made a play with his hand.”

Hampton engineered a 76-yard drive, going 4 for 4 and hitting Reynolds on a seam route for a 17-yard score. Moure’s PAT gave Davie a 16-14 lead.

A holding penalty negated Wilson’s 35-yard TD, and the half ended with safety Caleb Bowling sacking Ferguson.

Davie opened the second half by ripping off an 11-play, 80-yard drive. A third-and-26 play was like watching a work of art. Hampton threw a strike through a tiny window. As you have guessed, it was Reynolds who caught it for a gain of 26. Then Carney gained 15 and 13 yards on back-to-back runs. Then Hampton faked to Carney and hit paydirt from 7 yards out. Davie had a stunning 23-14 lead.

Wilson and West orchestrated a counterstrike. The dynamite running back was responsible for 57 of 72 yards as West pulled within 23-20.

Hampton and Reynolds came right back. Four of nine plays on the 66-yard drive were completions to the 5-9, 160-pound waterbug, including a 12-yard TD in which Reynolds reached back to grab it. Davie’s lead was now 30-20.

Hampton: “Getting to hang out with Jack and being so close to him, I know how underrated he is. Everybody kind of sleeps on him, especially colleges. It makes me mad because I see the kind of plays he makes.”

The Titans answered again. They put together a 12-play drive, and Wilson covered the last 18 yards on four runs to cut Davie’s lead to 30-27 at the end of the third quarter.

The War Eagles shrugged and resumed their unreal offensive execution. On fourth-and-4 from the West 33, Hampton looked down the field. He turned left to Evan Little, who made a 9-yard catch from his knees.

Reynolds: “That wasn’t just me. That was the o-line working their tails off and that’s Nate putting the ball in the right spots. And the receivers, Evan Little specifically, great job blocking vs. some great corners. That’s a team effort right there. Evan was going against Kendall Williams the whole night. (Williams is) known for stopping the run, and Evan worked his butt off tonight. It was very unselfish.”

After Za’Haree Maddox’s tumbling catch in the end zone was ruled incomplete, Davie faced fourth-and-1 at the 15. Against a jailbreak blitz, Hampton made a gutsy play. He eluded pressure by rolling right and using a stiff arm to keep defender Will Knight at bay. He fired a lovely 15-yard TD to a diving Carney to cap a 13-play, 80-yard masterpiece. Davie’s lead was 37-27 with 7:09 to go.

Devericks: “We knew they were going to be bringing the house on the inside, and we thought we could get a quick pass off. They did a good job of rerouting the primary receiver. Nate bought some time and the linemen gave him enough time to escape to the outside.”

Reynolds: “Nate did a heck of a job. He didn’t curl up under pressure. The o-line didn’t curl up either. That’s a great (West) defense.”

West coach Adrian Snow: “We couldn’t get them off the field. When we got them in long situations, they still made a play.”

Even though Wilson left with cramps – he would return the next series – West converted a fourth-and-2 with a 16-yard completion. After Dillard devoured 17 yards to the Davie 26, the War Eagles made a stand. Matt Hill dropped Dillard for a loss. On fourth-and-7, West ran a trick play. Dillard took a handoff and lofted a halfback pass. Receiver CJ Graham got behind the defense, but Bishop Norman’s hit on Dillard caused an underthrow. Redmon nearly picked it.

Davie ran the ball four times and punted, chewing nearly two minutes off the clock and forcing Snow to burn timeouts. West did not go quietly. On the ninth play of its drive, Ferguson scrambled for a 9-yard score to make it 37-34.

Even though only 5.6 seconds remained, it wasn’t quite done and dusted for the War Eagles. They’ve had horrible luck recovering onside kicks. The kick hit a Titan, squirted loose from a War Eagle and was recovered by a Titan at the West 49 with 2.2 seconds on the clock.

Davie’s prevent defense consisted of three pass rushers, six guys in coverage and three playing deep center field. Ferguson attempted a 10-yard pass that short-hopped his target.

That set off a madhouse scene. The War Eagles, who had a three-percent win probability coming in, savored a win that will live forever in the archives.

Hampton: “You should have seen us in the locker room (before the game). We knew going into that game that we were going to win it. That’s what me and Tate talked about all week. We knew our offense is very explosive and the defense got us some plays. We’ve been working for this all year. To have it finally pay off, it feels amazing, especially going against a team that’s 7-0.”

Devericks: “No. 1, that’s buying into a team mentality. No. 2, we spread the ball around so much – with the run and the pass – that they can’t really focus on one area.”