Davie football on longest winning streak in 7 years

Published 2:13 pm Monday, October 2, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

When Davie’s football team has the ball, its offense smells like an amusement park, a backyard barbecue and PE class all at once. It seems like every time we look up, quarterback Ty Miller is connecting with one of his potent weapons or Markel Summers is plowing through the teeth of the defense.

The explosive offense produced touchdowns on eight of 12 possessions last Friday as the visiting War Eagles turned a matchup against Reagan that was considered critical in their quest to retain a share of first place into a rout.

One week after an epic win over East Forsyth, the War Eagles took another huge step with a 54-41 win over Reagan. Their dominance is not reflected in the score as Davie allowed 21 points in the last 5:14 after carving out a 48-20 lead with 5:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Miller has delivered virtually every game for two seasons, but he’s been crazy hot the past two weeks. Against East and Reagan, the senior completed – ready for this? – 38 of 59 passes for 690 yards, tossing seven touchdowns against one interception. In Pfafftown, he hit 18 of 25 for 369 yards and four TDs. What’s more, he’s also burned the past two opponents with his legs. After only rushing 20 times for 50 yards in the first four games, he ran 12 times for 101 yards against East/Reagan.

“Best quarterback in the CPC,” receiver Ethan Driver said matter-of-factly.

“Our plan was to execute and not get too emotional,” the stoic Miller said.

Even though Davie has rung up 60, 32, 47, 41 and 54 points during the longest winning streak (five) in seven seasons, even though Davie already has more wins than it totaled in 2022 when it finished 4-7, there was not a raucous celebration after this one. Coach Tim Devericks had some things to address. One of them was giving up 14 points in a span of 32 seconds at the end, but that wasn’t all.

“I don’t think it was our best performance,” he said. “When we execute we can be a really good team, but we left some things out there. Like I tried to tell them at the end, little things that we’re not doing right will cost us down the line. We had some missed assignments up front. I know everyone sees (the 54 points), but little things are what I’m concerned about. I’m not taking away from what we did tonight, but the ending just kind of leaves a sour taste when we have a chance to salt the game away.”

Although the defense allowed 30 first downs and 607 total yards, it continued to get the job done when it mattered most. On the game’s first possession, Reagan went for it on fourth-and-9 from the Davie 30. QB Jacob Smith swung it out to running back Aaron Gutierrez, who had one man to beat in his attempt to move the chains. But freshman linebacker Elijah Chaffin chased him down and pushed him out of bounds three yards short.

The momentum from Chaffin’s big stop snowballed when Davie’s offense went 76 yards on its first series, scoring on a 30-yard pass from Miller to Driver.

The next difference-maker on defense was lineman Matty Warner. Reagan was quickly in Davie territory because of Jaylen Moore’s 40-yard run. On second-and-goal from the 4, Warner corralled Moore and limited him to two yards. On the next play, Warner blasted through the Reagan line like a wrecking ball and nailed Moore. The lightning-quick Moore stayed on his feet, but he was stoned by a host of Warner’s friends, a play that went for minus-7 and forced Reagan to settle for a 25-yard field goal and a 7-3 deficit.

“Matty is a relentless-effort guy,” Devericks said. “He just keeps giving and giving and giving and making plays.”

“That had me so hyped,” safety Connor Hood said. “Matty is my boy. I love Matty. He works hard every day.”

“I was just ready for the moment,” Warner said. “I stayed low, kept my ground and watched the ball.”

Davie’s first offensive series gave everyone a glimpse of what was to come. On its second series, Davie only needed 87 seconds and five plays to move 80 yards. The TD was a miraculous, sliding catch in the back of the end zone by Grey Deal, who has gone from Mr. Backup to Mr. Wonderful since the East game. After having seven catches for 73 yards in the first four games, he’s accumulated 11 for 191 and three TDs over the past two.

After Deal put his team ahead 14-3, the defense did its part. On first down, Hood jumped a route and knocked down a pass. On second down, lineman Trey’von Doulin buried Moore five yards behind the line. On third down, Doulin dove and tripped up Smith to record a 6-yard sack.

“They had an H-back and a tackle trying to chip Trey’von and roll the quarterback out,” Devericks said. “But he did a great job of keeping his hat outside and keeping contain. It was awesome.”

Davie punted early in the second quarter. Reagan converted on fourth-and-5 from the Davie 26 and things were about to get tense when Gutierrez caught a pass on second-and-6 from the Davie 7. But safety Eli Branham met Gutierrez at the 2-yard line. The ball came out and Davie’s Landon Barber recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchback.

“We were running man coverage and my guy ran a whip route,” Branham said. “It was my guy, so I had to make a play on him. I tried to hit him low and luckily there were a bunch of guys around. It was a big team play.”

Instead of Reagan potentially drawing within 14-10, it was still 14-3 and the ball was now in the hands of the scorching hot Miller, who covered 80 yards in the blink of an eye. Braddock Coleman took a slant pass 37 yards and Summers broke off a 43-yard TD run to create 21-3 gap.

“We’re just dogs,” Driver said. “Everybody is dogs.”

Reagan stormed 72 yards in 1:29 to cut the margin to 21-10, but it’s absurd how quickly Davie can answer. Miller found Leon Bradshaw for 20 yards, with a 15-yard penalty for a late hit tacked on. After Coleman hauled in an 11-yard pass, a wide-open Driver scored on a 21-yard play as the homecoming crowd fell silent.

It was 28-13 at halftime. In the second half, the defense came up with another game-changing stop on fourth down and Miller and Co. continued to pick apart the Raiders.

On fourth-and-1 from the Davie 31, Smith handed off to Moore (36-277 rushing), who is crazy good for a sophomore. But Chaffin and Warner stacked up Moore for no gain. On the next play, Miller lofted a deep ball. Driver (6-151 receiving) somehow pulled the ball in – for a gain of 39 – with a defensive back hanging all over him.

The sophomore receiver had another dominant night. Driver and Deal (5-89) scored twice each and Driver turned in his fourth 100-yard game in six tries.

“Ethan’s a stud,” Miller said. “He’s going to be really good the next two years.”

“We come down and the ball’s in my lap,” Driver said. “I was trying to pull his arms away and bat it down. I just came down with it.”

Driver’s spectacular play sparked a 69-yard march that only required 75 seconds and pushed the lead to 34-13. Reagan stayed alive by scoring a little over two minutes later, but Davie’s offense would rip off three more TDs before the night was done.

Miller shook a defender and completed a 43-yard bomb to Evan York. Four plays later, Deal caught one over the middle and juked his way to a 32-yard score that capped a 91-yard drive in 2:40.

“The first thing I saw was the defensive end coming off the edge and right at me,” Miller said of the pass to York. “I got my head back around and I saw Evan running down the field.”

The next time Davie got the ball, Miller showed his versatility by running around right end for 19 yards to the Reagan 1. Summers scored from there to make it 48-20 with 6:39 to play. Davie’s eighth TD was set up by Driver’s 39-yard reception at the Reagan 1.

For the game, Davie rolled up 604 yards without committing a turnover. Summers had a monster performance with 180 rushing yards and three TDs, raising his total against East/Reagan to 332. Miller’s 369 yards are tied for 10th in the Davie single-game record book. He averaged 14.7 yards per pass attempt, and for good measure, he added 52 rushing yards.

Oh wait, there’s more: The o-line of Evan Froelich, Evan Copeland, Ryder Strickland, Kevin Lazaro and Jalen Alexander has allowed one sack on 59 pass plays against East/Reagan.

Meanwhile, the defense continued to blossom before things got sloppy at the end. Davie got a turnover on downs at its 11-yard line with 9:36 to go and another one at the Reagan 24 with 7:14 left. The Raiders only managed two TDs on their first 10 possessions, they failed on eight of 13 third-down conversions and were turned back on four of five fourth-down tries. A week earlier, East also went 1 for 5 when it went for it on fourth down.

Smith threw for 320 yards, but Davie limited the chunk plays. Twenty-three of his 25 completions yielded no more than 17 yards.

“(Moore) is extremely hard to tackle one-on-one,” Devericks said. “He fights for every yard. Our defense just kept swarming to the ball, and we made some great open-field tackles.”

Hood (20 tackles, 11 solos, three pass breakups) played brilliantly. The rest of the tackle leaders were Chaffin (12), Branham (11), Zander Richardson (seven) and Warner (six).

“Connor filled the alley one time and made a phenomenal play on (Moore),” Devericks said. “He’s a very coachable kid and he’s soaking up everything coach Nic (Blaine Nicholson) is telling him. He’s communicating to other guys on the back end. He’s really worked hard at making the correct reads and getting to where he needs to be.”

“The offense gives us scout every week,” Hood said. “We just put that work in and we do what we’ve got to do.”

Opponents are averaging one TD pass per game, which constitutes major progress over the past two years when Davie surrendered 27 and 18 scores through the air.

“We’ve got more experience, more chemistry together and we trust each other a lot more,” Branham said. “We’re a lot more focussed on making sure what happened a bunch last year doesn’t happen.”

Notes: The Raiders are the best 1-5 team you’ll find. They’ve lost to Mooresville (14-13 score), East Forsyth (29-21) and Grimsley. Those three and Davie are a combined 22-2. … Davie (5-1, 3-0 CPC) is riding the longest winning streak since taking 10 in a row in 2016. … This was another flip-the-script moment for the War Eagles, who lost to West Rowan, East Forsyth and Reagan in 2022. Reagan belted Davie 52-14 and 41-21 the past two years. … Davie travels to Mt. Tabor Friday night at 7:30. Although the Spartans (2-4) are 0-3 in the CPC, they’re nothing to mess around with. They’ve suffered consecutive one-point losses (29-28 to Reynolds, 21-20 to East Forsyth). You can bet Devericks will warn his boys all week about not taking the cheese. “I’m proud of the guys, but we’re not going to stop coaching just because (we’re winning),” he said. “For us to get to where we want to go, we have to have that fire in our belly and have that same hunger (for four quarters).” … Last year Tabor beat Davie 35-24. Tabor leads the all-time series 19-13.