Davie falls short at Mt. Tabor, 35-34

Published 2:07 pm Monday, October 9, 2023

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

It didn’t matter that Ty Miller threw three touchdown passes and surpassed 300 yards for the third game in a row. It didn’t matter that Markel Summers had more than 100 rushing yards by halftime. It didn’t matter that receivers Ethan Driver, Braddock Coleman and Grey Deal delivered superlative efforts. It didn’t matter that Davie’s football team came up with two gutty TD drives on its last two possessions.

It didn’t matter in the end because Mt. Tabor had the do-it-all Shamarius “Snook” Peterkin, who played offense, defense and special teams, caught two TD passes and blocked the extra point with 3:48 remaining to give the Spartans a 35-34 victory in a tense thriller Friday in Winston-Salem.

Davie’s first loss in six games cut deeply. It marked a squandered opportunity for the War Eagles (5-2, 3-1 Central Piedmont Conference), who could have seized sole possession of first place in the CPC with a win. Now they find themselves in a three-way tie for first with East Forsyth and West Forsyth. Playing the role of spoiler, the Spartans (3-4, 1-3) stopped a three-game slide.

“It came down to little things,” Davie coach Tim Devericks said. “They were a little bit better at the little things than us tonight – blocking, tackling and taking care of what they needed to take care of.”

While Davie watched its longest winning streak (five) in seven seasons come to an end, the Spartans were out-of-their-minds happy. From their viewpoint, they deserved a happy ending after losing by one point each of the past two weeks (29-28 to Reynolds, 21-20 to East).

“The biggest thing is, we stayed together tonight,” Tabor coach Tiesuan Brown said. “We never folded and we stayed focussed the whole second half. Last week (when Tabor missed a field goal before East marched 80 yards and won with five seconds on the clock), we lost focus the last two minutes.”

In the opening minutes, Tabor’s offense moved from its 20 to the Davie 34, where it faced fourth-and-5. Brown called for the wildcat and put Peterkin, a star receiver, at QB. Peterkin tried the right end, but Gavin Reese and Connor Hood stopped him a yard short.

Davie’s offense immediately went to work. After handing off to Summers on six of Davie’s first eight plays, Miller wrong-footed the defense by keeping it around left end. He rumbled for 11 yards, but Davie suffered a tough break at the end of the play. A defender knocked the ball out and linebacker John Fowler scooped the ball and scored on a 62-yard fumble return. That energized a Tabor team that only managed one offensive score in the first half.

Davie’s answer was a 10-play, 72-yard drive. On fourth-and-1 from the Tabor 39, Summers churned for three. On fourth-and-2, Miller kept the ball and raced around right end for a 28-yard TD as Davie tied the game at 7.

Davie’s defense forced a three-and-out and the offense marched 83 yards in 12 plays. Miller’s throw to Summers was off target, but Summers went low to catch it and broke loose for 20 yards. The next big play was a stunning 16-yard hookup with Kez Stockton, a first-year senior who had not made a reception all season. Summers took care of the final 20 yards, gaining 14 on a pass play and six on three straight runs as Davie moved in front 14-7.

Davie was firmly in control when Nathaniel Jordan, Trey’von Doulin and Jerred Alexander sacked Tabor QB Lane Albright, Tabor went three-and-out again and Miller connected with Driver for 13 yards and with Deal for 12. Davie had first-and-goal at the 11 and could taste a two-TD lead.

But Tabor’s defense stood strong and changed the momentum. Devericks decided to go for it on fourth-and-3 from the Tabor 4. Miller couldn’t find an open man, scrambled and finally floated a desperation pass that wound up in the hands of a diving KJ Johnson of Tabor. The interception in the end zone allowed the Spartans to take over at the 20-yard line instead of the 4, and three plays later, Albright went deep to Peterkin, who beat two defenders on a go route down the left sideline. The 50-yard TD tied the game at 14.

“We had two guys over there … there’s nothing else you can do,” Devericks said. “The quarterback made a good throw to the outside and just let his guy go make a play.”

Only 44 seconds remained in the half as Davie took over at its 27 with just one timeout in its pocket. Instead of running out the clock, Davie stayed in attack mode. Summers ran for 12 yards before Coleman caught back-to-back passes for nine and 35 yards. An incomplete pass from the Tabor 12 stopped the clock at :07. Miller lofted a rainbow to the back right corner of the end zone. With the clock at 0:00, Driver made an incredible catch between two defenders as he was falling down.

We note again: Despite only having one timeout, Davie roared 73 yards in six plays and 44 seconds to take a 21-14 lead into intermission. That’s an absurdity.

“I wanted us to get in position (with two runs) and then see what kind of time we had left,” Devericks said. “I knew they were going to come out in a three-man front, so I wanted to run it on first down and see what we could get. Then try to pick up the pace from there.”

“I told the guys we’ve got to shake it off,” Brown said. “We know they can score. We told our offense: ‘Y’all have to be able to match them.’”

After absorbing that gut-punch, the Spartans showed tremendous heart. In the first series of the third quarter, Peterkin got behind the secondary. Albright’s bomb hit his hands inside the Davie 5, but Peterkin dropped what would have been a 54-yard TD. But running back Zion Thompson kept the drive alive by powering four yards on fourth-and-2 from the Davie 35. Four plays later, Albright went back to Peterkin, a highly-recruited 6-2 junior. He towered over a DB and secured a 15-yard TD that tied the game 21-21.

“Believe it or not, I had to get him off the bench,” Brown said of Peterkin, who sat out two plays after the drop. “He was down in the dumps. I said: ‘Look here, buddy, that doesn’t matter. You’re our guy. Everybody on this sideline believes in you. Get back in the game.’ He got up and made another big play.”

Then the Spartans started dialing up blitzes and Miller was under near constant pressure. When they dropped Miller 19 yards back, it was just the second sack allowed in three games. Miller was sacked again for minus-11 and Davie punted.

“When we saw (Miller) twist his ankle (on a sack), I started bringing more pressure,” Brown said.

When Albright handed off to Kevin Frazier, who lined up at fullback in a short-yardage package, on a fourth-and-1 play from the Davie 36, it was his first and only carry of the night. He moved the pile 23 yards to the Davie 13. Albright would score on a 2-yard keeper and Tabor had a 28-21 lead with 11:59 to go.

“We were able to run the ball in the second half,” Brown said. “That made the difference. When we were able to run, that eats the clock up. We had the ball for a long time (9:33 of the 12 minutes) in the third quarter. It was will; we had to will it.”

The seven-point deficit made it imperative for Davie’s offense to respond, and it did just that. A third-and-10 pass to Deal was going to end up well short of the marker, but defensive pass interference gave Davie new life. Devericks kept the offense on the field when it was fourth-and-6 from the Tabor 47. Miller ducked a blitzer, slipped past a second defender and made a breathtaking 7-yard run. On the next play, Miller hit Deal over the middle, resulting in 33 yards to the Tabor 7. On third-and-goal, Miller found Deal again, this time in the end zone. The extra-point snap was high, but Miller gathered it and Max McCall split the uprights to make it 28-28 with 8:44 left.

“They put a lot of pressure on you with the passing game,” Brown said. “If you’re covering the pass, it opens up running lanes. Hats off to (Devericks). They do a really good job with what they do.”

Coleman, the kicker, surprised Tabor with an onside kick. Coleman nearly recovered it for the third time this season, but Tabor won the scrum and started from its 48. On first play of the series, Thompson, who only had 33 yards on nine runs to that point, got around right end and sped 52 yards to the end zone. Just like that, Tabor was back on top 35-28. It was the longest run that Davie’s allowed all season. After struggling to find room for three-plus quarters, Thompson gained 97 yards on his final six rushes.

“We tried to preach all week that they were going to be a physical team,” Devericks said. “I don’t know if we rose to the occasion at critical times. At times we were probably the more physical team, but at critical times they had a little bit more hunger than us after being snake-bit the last two weeks. Credit to them and their staff for making those guys believe.”

The twists and turns kept coming. On fourth-and-5 from the Davie 40, Miller and Driver connected for nine. Miller was sacked for minus-13, but Davie refused to buckle. A third-and-23 pass to Driver produced 19 yards, and Tabor jumped offsides on fourth-and-4 to give Davie a fresh set of downs. On third-and-8, the Tabor secondary lost Coleman, who sliced over the middle for an 18-yard pickup. The next play was yet another electric moment, with Miller zipping one over the middle and hitting Driver in stride for a 20-yard TD.

Davie’s offense had come through in the clutch again, driving 65 yards in 11 plays and cutting Tabor’s lead to 35-34 with the PAT pending.

“We knew it was going to be this type of game,” Brown said. “That kid (Miller) is phenomenal, so we knew he was going to make plays.”

“They were blitzing six and at times we can only block five,” Devericks said. “So we tried (to counter) that by going empty and not letting them get six in there.”

With 4:39 to go, Davie needed a successful PAT to force the fifth tie of the night. Davie was 24 of 31 on extra points to that point, so it wasn’t exactly automatic. Peterkin fired off the left edge and blocked McCall’s try, stunning the visiting side into silence.

Then, after Tabor recovered the onside kick, Thompson churned for three first downs, Devericks burned his final two timeouts and Albright kneeled the clock out. The War Eagles had fallen just short on a night their offense converted 5 of 6 fourth downs.

Peterkin was the biggest reason why. He’s a special talent. As they say, sometimes you tip your hat.

“We didn’t miss (an assignment),” Devericks said. “I think it was just a great effort by him.”

“At the end of the game, I kissed him,” Brown said. “I said (to Peterkin): ‘Boy, I love you.’ He blocked one early in the season against Page. We saw it on film. Watching the Reagan game, the guy came close every time, yet he never sold out. I told Snook: ‘If we get on this side, we can get it done.’ When I saw him get in that stance, I knew he was all the way locked in. We discuss this: ‘Guys, this can win the game. Don’t take this (play) off.’ (Peterkin) gave it to us in all three phases tonight.”

Notes: Davie’s record when scoring 34-plus points was 150-11. … Summers, who had 25 carries for 103 yards at halftime, was limited to five yards on three attempts in the second half. … Miller had six carries for 55 yards when not counting four sacks for minus-44. … Summers turned in his sixth straight 100-yard game. … Miller (27 of 38 for 313 yards) matched a career high in completions and tied a Davie career record with his fifth 300-yard game. Nate Hampton (2018-19) and Alex Summers (2020-21) also had five such games. … Driver (8-100) continued his fabulous season by matching a season high in catches and achieving his fifth 100-yard game. … Coleman (5-78) was tough as nails as he enjoyed his most catches/yards in five games. Deal (4-54 receiving) was a big factor for the third consecutive week. … The mystery guest in the offensive attack was Stockton, who had two catches after barely playing in the first six games. Devericks gushed at the unselfish senior. “It’s his first year playing football, so it took him a while to settle in,” he said. “But you want to talk about a great young man. I told a story yesterday at practice. He comes into the locker room, there’s money laying on the ground. He easily could have put it in his pocket; no one was around. He brings it to me. Those are the kind of kids that you love to coach. He gives great effort in practice. He’s willing to jump in and give somebody a rest. We had a mindset that he was going to get reps this week. People who do things like that and work hard all the time, they’ve got to get reps.”