This Cinderella can ball: Davie football beats Reagan, now 4-0

Published 3:38 pm Monday, March 22, 2021

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Davie varsity football fans held their breath all game and the War Eagles held on to the very end to outlast Reagan 49-40 in one of the most exciting regular-season games in history.

The War Eagles had to overcome 340 rushing yards and five touchdowns from Reagan’s huge star, senior Bryson Canty. They had to overcome 110 yards in penalties. They had to overcome two fumbles.

With big-time performances from running back Tate Carney, quarterback Alex Summers and receivers Za’Haree Maddox and Jack Reynolds, Davie (4-0 overall, 2-0 Central Piedmont Conference) pulled out a hairbreadth win and remained undefeated. The Raiders slipped to 2-2, 1-1.

The game was rained out on Friday and held in Pfafftown on Saturday.

“The guys kept fighting all game,” coach Tim Devericks said. “It was an up-and-down game and they kept persevering.”

• Carney was his dominant self, toting the rock 47 times for 253 yards and four touchdowns. “He’s put himself in that position by taking care of himself, working hard during the pandemic and making sure he was physically in shape,” Devericks said.

• The burgeoning Summers took his game to another level against the toughest opponent to date, hitting 23 of 33 passes for 343 yards and three TDs and becoming a hero in the rich tradition of Davie heroes. “Alex has really stepped up big,” Maddox said. “Since Nate (Hampton) left, some people thought we were going to struggle a lot with the passing game with Alex in the spotlight. But the pressure hasn’t gotten to him.”

• After making just six catches in the first three games, Maddox was a big part of the story. He had seven receptions for 137 yards and two TDs, including a catch-and-run score for the ages. “Coach (Chris) Callison told him a few weeks ago to be patient, keep helping the team and your time will come,” Devericks said.

• And Reynolds had a ho-hum 100 receiving yards on four catches, including the game-clinching TD late in the fourth on a fourth-down pass. What’s more, he played every series on defense at cornerback. “The things he did for our team, I don’t think a lot of people really understand,” Devericks said. “His contributions on both sides of the ball were phenomenal.”

Taking first possession, Davie was quickly on the move before fumbling at the Reagan 14. Reagan took advantage, jumping to a 6-0 lead on a 36-yard pass.

On third-and-10, Davie’s offensive line gave Summers all kinds of time to find Chase Robertson for 13 yards. Two penalties put Davie in a first-and-24 hole, but Summers found Reynolds deep for 34 yards. From the Reagan 12, Carney swept left and reached over the goal line. The first of seven extra points by Willy Moure gave Davie a 7-6 lead.

On third-and-30, the dynamic Canty lined up at receiver and hauled in Kam Hill’s long pass for 38 yards. Moments later, Canty was in the end zone. The kick was wide right – the second miss in two tries – as Reagan settled for a 12-7 lead.

“I stood back away from the line of scrimmage just to have an idea of where (Canty) was,” Devericks said. “He might be in the slot one play, he might be out wide or he might be in the backfield. You had to know where No. 4 was at all the time.”

The ensuing kickoff was a game-changer as senior Beaven Arey snapped a 78-yard return to the Reagan 7.

“I had it, but I was pretty exhausted because they had a long (11-play) drive on our defense and then we went on kickoff return,” Arey said. “I was gassed already, but there was one little gap and I hit it hard.”

Carney took advantage of the short field, scoring from the 2 on third-and-goal as Davie regained a 14-12 lead.

On third-and-2 for Reagan, Davie defensive end Hunter Rose gained leverage on the edge, the running back stumbled and lost eight yards.

Then Davie’s offense shrugged off second-and-30 from its 18, with Carney taking a screen pass 22 yards and Reynolds moving the sticks with a nine-yard catch.

Summers just kept coming through, finding Maddox for 6 yards on fourth-and-5 from the Reagan 46. Carney covered the final 38 yards on three runs, breaking two tackles on a 20-yard score that capped a 13-play, 89-yard march. Davie had a 21-12 lead.

Summers entered his junior season as an unproven commodity, his ability not adequately tested by 54 varsity throws during the 2018-19 seasons, including zero as a sophomore. But the unassuming Summers has stepped up beautifully. He brings a calm, poised demeanor.

“They were loading the box, and Alex was cool, calm and collected,” Devericks said. “He went through his reads. We had full faith in Alex. He’s come a long way since his freshman year. I knew he was capable of doing what we’ve asked him to do.”

“He’s stayed calm,” Maddox said. “He’s definitely done an exceptional job. He’s just a calm person. He never gets rattled, and that’s what we love about him.”

Canty was responsible for 80 of 84 yards on Reagan’s swift six-play drive. He ripped through multiple tackles on a 21-yard TD with 17 seconds left in the second quarter.

It was 21-19 Davie after a 505-yard, six-TD half. But the fireworks were only beginning in a 13-TD game.

The stunningly fast Canty broke three tackles on an 80-yard TD less than a minute into the third, meaning Reagan scored twice in 69 seconds. Canty completed a two-point pass to give the hosts a 27-21 lead.

Davie answered with a 13-play drive. Sophomore Brodie Smith reeled in a 12-yard reception with his fingertips, and Carney devoured the last 30 yards with five runs and one catch as Davie retook a 28-27 lead.

Robertson and Smith were contributing factors with three catches each.

“Chase can play multiple positions in the offense; that’s how intelligent he is,” Devericks said. “He has stepped up in a big way with Zymere (Hudson) out with an injury. Brodie made one heck of a catch on a slant route.”

Although Davie’s defense had serious trouble with Reagan’s formidable o-line and Canty, it persevered and came up with five straight stops (three punts, two turnovers on downs). On third-and-4, Hill bobbled the snap, Justin Hayes dropped him 7 yards back and Reagan punted.

A little over a minute later, Maddox reeled in a 30-yard TD with one hand as Davie took a 35-27 lead. He showed brilliant potential in 2019 with 46 catches and 4 TDs, but he failed to score against Ragsdale, West Rowan and Reynolds. His time arrived in a pivotal CPC battle.

“Za’Haree dropped a hitch earlier in the game that he was frustrated about because he knew he had a lot of space,” Devericks said. “I said: ‘Just look it in and you’re going to have more opportunities.’ He was able to move on to the next play.”

Arey had a tackle for loss as Reagan went three-and-out. Summers and Carney fumbled an exchange and Reagan took over at the Davie 32. But the defense got a stop on fourth-and-6 at the 28. A substantial punt return – with a 15-yard penalty against Davie tacked on – teed up Reagan’s offense at the Davie 25. But the defense made another stand, Kristian Lyons making a tackle for no gain and Reynolds and Arey breaking up passes in the end zone.

“In this day and age, I don’t think you can look at points (allowed),” Devericks said. “You have to look at key stops that give your team momentum at the right time. And they came up huge.”

After Canty’s 80-yarder, Reagan only managed 24 yards in a span of 19 plays. Then Maddox provided some breathing room with an absurd catch-and-run. On second-and-9 from the Davie 27, Maddox caught Summers’ short pass at the Davie 32. Showing the athleticism of a circus performer, he broke six tackles on a 73-yard journey to the end zone. He escaped three defenders at the sideline; he shook off three more at midfield. It was 42-27 with 7:07 to go.

“It was a whip route, hoping to get 5-10 yards,” Maddox said.

“It was amazing,” Summers said.

“When his number got called Saturday night, you can see No. 6 is pretty special as well,” Devericks said. “He had four guys around him when he caught the ball, and somehow he was able to get out of that mess. It was a phenomenal play.”

“He has three people on him and he does some type of move,” Reynolds said. “They all go to the ground and he’s standing up. He leaps over them. He trips but he stays up. The next person gets his heels. He trips but stays up. He cuts it across. That’s one of the most exciting plays I’ve witnessed on the field.”

Just when everything looked aces for Davie, Reagan drove 80 yards in seven plays. The surge was fueled by Canty’s 47-yard catch-and-run. The extra point sliced Davie’s lead to 42-34 with 4:54 remaining.

On fourth-and-6 from midfield, Davie punted. On the next play, Canty was at it again, this time exploding through the middle for 70 yards. At 42-40, Reagan was a two-point conversion from tying the game with 3:01 on the clock.

“Bryson is so dominant, such an unbelievable player,” Reagan coach Josh McGee told the Winston-Salem Journal.

On the two-point play, Reagan tried some trickery. Canty took a direct snap, but he bobbled the ball and his knee touched down as he was trying to flip the ball on a reverse.

“They had the Philly Special (called),” Devericks said. “(Canty) was going to pitch it to the guy coming around and the tight end was going to leak out to the flat.”

Carney recovered the ensuing onside kick. After Carney gained zero, 5 and 2 yards from the wildcat formation, Davie faced fourth-and-3 at the Reagan 44 with 75 seconds left. Devericks had a critical decision to make: Punt or go for it. Both teams called timeout as the suspense mounted.

“I was thinking hard about it,” Devericks said. “After the first timeout that they called, the guys said: ‘We can get this.’ I don’t think what we ended up doing was what they thought we’d do. They had a loaded box. The play we had called (for Carney) would have been a tight one, so I called timeout to rethink and talk about it.”

“I wanted to go for it,” Summers said. “I felt confident.”

Devericks rolled the dice, ordered an empty set with Carney split out and went for the jugular. It worked in grand style, the nerveless Summers showing a deft touch while connecting on a post route with the extraordinary Reynolds, who shook off the defender at the 19 and scored a 44-yard TD.

“It was one of those where it works out and everyone’s like: ‘Oh, that’s great,’” Devericks said. “If it doesn’t work out, everyone’s like: ‘What were you thinking? That was the worst call I’ve ever seen.’”

The gutsy call created one of the greatest finishes in Davie lore.

“I had no idea what we were going to do,” Reynolds said. “I think they were expecting us to put it in Tate’s hands because it’s Tate Carney. They were putting eight in the box and Tate can only do so much. It’s a gutsy call to go empty, but they played man coverage and that’s one-on-one for every receiver. Alex sealed the game right there. Alex had to put it over (the DB’s) head and lead me inside. That ball was right through a tight window, perfectly thrown.”

“Alex had the poise to not rush the throw and give it time,” Devericks said. “He stood in there and fired a strike. He’s got the mentality. He never gets too up; he never gets too down. He’s just even keel. It helps in situations like that.”

“It was tough sledding for a while and Alex really got the passing game opened up for us,” Carney said. “He won it for us tonight.”


• Carney put up his 13th career 100-yard rushing game and tallied 308 rushing/receiving yards. … Reynolds notched his seventh career 100-yard receiving game. … Canty averaged 15.4 yards on 22 carries and racked up 435 rushing/receiving yards. … Davie was clutch on third down, converting 9 of 15.

• Carney’s season numbers are mind-numbing: 839 rushing yards, 209 on average and 20 TDs, which are tied for sixth in the season record book. In single-game rushing yards, the junior holds the first and sixth spots. Carney had 327 against Reynolds; Cooter Arnold had 322 against South Rowan in 2004; Kenny Collins had 290 against South Stokes in 1998; Arnold had 273 against West Rowan in 2004; David Daye had 262 against Forbush in 1996; and Carney had 253 at Reagan. “His 47th carry was just like his first one,” offensive coordinator Matt Gould said.

• For the season, Summers is 61 of 92 for 884 yards, with eight TDs against one interception. Reynolds has caught four of the eight TDs. Summers’ 343 passing yards against Reagan are good for ninth in the single-game record book. And don’t forget the dependable Moure, who is 26 of 27 on PATs.

• Offensive linemen, even really good ones, don’t get the respect players at other positions do. Behind left tackle Camden Beck, left guard Merritt Killian, center Ashton Williams, right guard Ethan Doub and right tackle Spencer Williams, Davie is averaging 47 points. “They’ve been doing an incredible job,” Gould said. “They keep improving their technique and picking up assignments and blitzes. I mean, what Tate’s been able to do has been a tribute to them.”