Football Fever: Davie turned the tables in ’99

Published 1:37 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

As we get ready for the 2023 Davie football season, here’s a look back at one of the all-time games, an overtime win at West Forsyth in 1999.

Davie football coach Doug Illing didn’t have to give a Gipper speech before the War Eagles’ trip to Clemmons in 1999.

One year earlier, West Forsyth punctuated a tense 14-6 victory by celebrating at midfield of War Eagle Stadium, rubbing Davie’s face in its 10th loss to West in 11 years.

One year later, the War Eagles were still ticked off. And after Ricky White scored and after a blitzing Jeremy Shoffner dropped running back Anthony Butler on fourth down to seal a breathtaking 28-21 overtime victory, Davie turned the tables by pounding their chests at midfield.

“They did that crap to us last year at our field, stomping on our War Eagle,” said quarterback Drew Ridenhour, one of the heroes. “We weren’t going to take that. We remember stuff like that. We came to their house and did it.”

Illing, the second-year coach, savored his greatest triumph to this point in his Davie career.

“Man, I’m excited,” he said. “This is the greatest victory I’ve been in in 10 years of coaching. Nobody believed in us, especially after (back-to-back losses to North Davidson and Central Davidson). Nobody was giving us a chance. This was the first step to making a statement that we can play with the Winston-Salem schools and be conference champions.”

Ridenhour, playing on a torn ACL in his right knee, was electric at crunch time as Davie faced a 21-13 deficit late in the third quarter. He converted two third-and-10s with substantial completions to Rod Tenor, who was outstanding with eight catches for 110 yards. Then Ridenhour hit Thadd Johnson (five catches, 91 yards) for 15 yards to set up White, who plunged in from the West 1 to cut the margin to 21-19 with 9:55 to go.

“I had great protection and Thadd and Rod caught the ball,” Ridenhour said. “You’ve got to give them credit because they did stuff after they caught it.”

On the two-point try, Davie dialed up a play that surprised everybody in the house: a screen pass to White, who eluded a defender at the 5 and scored to tie the game at 21.

“We knew they’d be sending the house and we had to fake it,” Illing said. “We hoped nobody would tackle Ricky. That was a good call by (offensive coordinator Bill) Oakley.”

At the start of overtime, White shook a defender in the backfield and gained 9 yards. He scored on second down as Davie took the 28-21 lead.

“I’ve been playing for four years and ain’t never beat West Forsyth,” White said. “My senior year, I felt like I had to put it in there for the team. I felt like I owed it to them. It doesn’t get any better. I just want to thank the o-line for this game because they really picked it up tonight.”

Now it was the Davie defense’s turn to step up. Although West quarterback Josh McGee completed a first-down pass to the 4, Davie’s interior brutes stuffed Butler on second and third down. On fourth-and-goal from the 3, Shoffner made a shoestring tackle to seal the win. It was pure pandemonium on the visitors’ sideline.

“That’s the thing we’ve been talking to (Shoffner) about the last three weeks – coming up, making a play on the tailback and keeping containment,” Illing said. “We talked about our seniors stepping up and making plays.”

The War Eagles came out of the gate with fury. On their first possession, Ridenhour threw a 21-yard TD to Johnson. David Wooldridge nailed 32- and 31-yard field goals to push Davie’s lead to 13-0 with 5:33 left in the second quarter.

Ridenhour would hit 14 of 27 passes for a season-high 202 yards.

“I thought Drew was absolutely fantastic,” West coach Russell Stone said. “I mean, him on two legs must be outstanding.”

After digging a hole, the Titans showed some tenacity. Butler scored three TDs in a span of 6:30 as West stormed to the 21-13 lead. Butler, coming off 268 yards in a win over Northwest Guilford, finished with 213 yards on 37 carries.

But Davie made big plays when it mattered most.

“We had some adversity at times,” defensive coordinator Devore Holman said. “But you know what, when it counted we bowed our backs and shut the water off.”

This was a glorious season for the War Eagles. The win at West ignited a five-game winning streak. They closed the regular season with wins of 27-17 over South Rowan, 23-21 over Reynolds and 19-6 over Mt. Tabor to go 4-0 in the CPC and claim their first outright league title in 34 years. They buried Ashbrook 24-6 in the first round of the playoffs. They lost 28-7 to eventual state champion A.C. Reynolds in the second round, but the 10-3 record was just the third time that Davie had achieved double-figure wins.