Davie blows 21-6 lead; homecoming this Friday

Published 8:44 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2022

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By Brian Pitts

Davie Enterprise Record

Four minutes into the second quarter against visiting Reagan last Thursday, it seemed as if Davie’s football team was going to right the ship and pick up a big Central Piedmont Conference win.

At that moment, the War Eagles were doing everything right. They were in front 21-6. Running back Markel Summers was on pace for nine touchdowns. The defense had forced back-to-back punts.

Then Davie (2-4 overall, 1-2 CPC) pulled a Jekyll and Hyde, surrendered 35 unanswered points and lost 41-21.

“We had them on the ropes early, and the execution has to be at a premium there,” coach Tim Devericks said. “You can’t have a mental lapse. The momentum changed and it snowballed on us.”

The game began with maybe the longest punt in Davie annals. Senior Palmer Williams, a Baylor commit, killed a 70-yarder that was downed at the Reagan 3. It didn’t matter. The Raiders (4-2, 2-1) pounded out five first downs, gained 50 yards through the air, 42 yards on the ground and went 97 yards in 12 plays to take a 6-0 lead. (The PAT was no good.)

“That was phenomenal,” Devericks said of Williams’ rocket punt. “He flipped the field. That’s a huge weapon. To their credit, they went all the way down the field.”

As disappointing as that sequence was, Davie controlled the next five series.

On third down, Summers ran for 12 yards. On fourth-and-6 from the Reagan 34, Ty Miller found Aidan Froelich near the sideline for 8. On third-and-10 from the Reagan 11, Miller hit a wide-open Summers, who had leaked out of the backfield, for a touchdown to cap a 12-play drive that vaulted Davie to a 7-6 lead.

Thanks to a swarming Mason Shermer, Reagan went three-and-out. Shermer and Matty Warner teamed up for a minus-2 tackle before Shermer recorded a negative-11 sack.

Davie’s offense went right back to work. Consecutive runs by Miller and Summers moved the ball from the Davie 44 to the Reagan 13. On third-and-6, Summers got exactly 6. He scored on the next play, running through a gaping hole up the middle, to finish a 56-yard drive.

Gavin Reese nearly intercepted a third-and-20 pass and Reagan punted for the second time in less than four minutes.

Davie covered 62 yards in smashmouth fashion, with Miller scampering for 14, 12 and 20 yards and Summers taking care of the final 16 yards on three straight runs. Davie was looking good and leading 21-6 with 8:11 remaining in the first half.

But things went sideways for Davie from there. Jaylen Moore’s 53-yard touchdown run kick-started the Reagan engine. Davie’s No. 1 receiver, Brodie Smith, made a dazzling 48-yard reception at the Reagan 6, but Davie hit a wall and Williams was barely wide left on a 28-yard field goal try.

Reagan’s Tsion Saunders moved the chains on a fourth-and-2 run, and QB Jacob Smith connected with Jackson Martin for a 22-yard TD as Reagan forged a 21-21 tie.

Davie was on the move when Miller and Summers connected for 44 yards to the Reagan 39, but Miller’s next pass was batted high into the air and picked off with 64 seconds left in the half.

The first half was as even as it gets. Davie scored three TDs in a span of 6:39. Reagan countered with two scores in 5:07. Reagan had 14 first downs to Davie’s 13. Davie had 261 total yards to Reagan’s 259.

But the second half was a disaster for the War Eagles. They mustered just four first downs, had 12 rushes for minus-34 yards because of four sacks and had 25 total yards on 20 plays. They had more penalty yards (45) than yards of offense. They also had two turnovers.

By contrast, Reagan scored on three straight possessions to win going away. The tiebreaker was a 7-yard TD pass on third-and-1. That was set up by a successful QB sneak on fourth-and-1 from the Davie 20.

It was all but over when Martin juggled and caught an 18-yard TD with 6:42 to play to make it 34-21.

Reagan’s remarkable rotation at running back gave Davie nightmares. Moore had 15 carries for 198 yards. Saunders had 19 carries for 135 yards. Smith blended in 14 completions for 181 yards and three TDs. Believe it or not, Moore and Smith are freshmen. Defensively for Reagan, senior Semaj Turner, a 6-3, 245-pound lineman who is headed to Duke, was a one-man wrecking crew.

“(Moore and Saunders) hit it downhill hard,” Devericks said. “They were running behind a Notre Dame commit (in 6-5, 305-pound senior right tackle Sam Pendleton) and a right guard who will go somewhere big. The right guard has been looked at by everybody. And they kept us honest by hitting some short (passes). We couldn’t sell out totally on the run.”

An inspired Summers represented 56 percent of Davie’s offense, the junior running for 92 yards, adding 71 receiving yards and scoring three TDs. At one time, Miller had nine carries for 51 yards, but sacks left him with a net of one yard for the night. Miller hit 12 of 20 passes for 193 yards, including six hookups with Smith, who was impressive again with 92 receiving yards.

“Markel is going to run it hard every time his number is called,” Devericks said. “I think that’s why they switched up some things toward the end of the second quarter to try to get the ball out of his hands.”

Shermer had a strong game in defeat.

“Before halftime, we went to a sub package with him coming off the end,” Devericks said. “The quarterback was actually rolling away from him. He came off the edge, ran it down at the their sideline and forced a fumble. Unfortunately, they recovered it. But it was a phenomenal effort play.”

Another positive: Reese, the freshman cornerback. He had two pass breakups in the end zone, one in which he smartly reached around the receiver with his left hand and another in which he batted it away with his free hand while the receiver appeared to lock onto his other arm.

“He’s a freshman, but he’s been maturing and making plays,” Devericks said. “The (East Forsyth) game doesn’t show it, but he had very good coverage last week as well. He’s got a very bright future. He probably got an offensive PI in the end zone (that wasn’t called). He had another one on a post route that he had in his hands and he lost it when he hit the ground.”

Notes: Davie was missing backup running back Taye Maddox with an injury. … Junior offensive guard Kevin Lazaro suffered an injury, getting helped off the field with 9:22 left in the second  quarter. … Davie has another tall task for Friday’s homecoming game against Mt. Tabor. Kickoff at War Eagle Stadium is set for 7 p.m. The Spartans are 5-1, 2-1. They opened the season by giving Richmond County its worst loss ever, 45-6. Their other five games: 52-7 win over North Forsyth, 29-14 win over Page, 29-13 win over West Forsyth, 28-0 win over Reynolds and 31-13 loss to East Forsyth. … Although Tabor leads the all-time series 18-13, Davie has taken the last three, including a wild 56-49 win last year.