Mr. Excitement: Summers churns out 299 in 40-33 win
Published 12:46 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2023
By Brian Pitts
After Ty Miller averaged 293 passing yards through the first eight games, Davie’s offense could not find a spark in the air attack against visiting Parkland on Oct. 19.
But that was OK. Why? Senior Markel Summers was at it again. The crazy hot running back churned for a career-high 299 yards and three touchdowns one week after putting up a then-career-high 243 against West Forsyth. That’s the third-most rushing yards in Davie annals. That’s the stuff of legend.
Summers’ titanic performance led a 40-33 victory on Senior Night.
“I’m so glad I’m able to set personal records, fly by my last year stats and get into the history books for rushing yards in a game,” Summers said.
After losing back-to-back games, the War Eagles rose to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the Central Piedmont Conference, good for third place behind co-leaders West Forsyth/East Forsyth, both of whom are 5-1.
Meanwhile, the Mustangs (4-5, 1-5) are an incredibly improved team. After going 1-24 over the previous three seasons, after losing the previous six meetings to Davie by an average margin of 44-6, they’re finally able to put some Jimmys and Joes on the field and they’re not a pushover despite being tied for last with Reynolds.
The War Eagles never trailed, but they also never could blow it open despite getting on the board a mere 16 seconds into the game. On the first play from scrimmage, d-lineman Trey’von Doulin dislodged the ball from running back Vernon Champion and outside linebacker Zander Richardson scooped and scored with a 31-yard return. Fittingly, two seniors made the quick 6-0 lead happen.
“It was surreal,” said Z. Richardson, who plays defense alongside his brother, junior linebacker Archer Richardson. “It’s almost like it was planned (for Senior Night). Trey’von wrapped him up and it bounced out.”
But Parkland has a gifted quarterback, some lightning-quick receivers and a kicker with a massive foot. Junior Anthony Rojas drilled 35- and 47-yard field goals to forge a tie at 6.
Summers had the answer. He was responsible for 56 of 65 yards on a scoring drive that resulted in a 14-6 lead.
When Eli Branham came up with his second interception of the half, Davie was poised to gain separation as it moved the ball 49 yards to the Parkland 20. But the 13-play drive stalled and Davie turned it over on downs.
The Mustangs moved the chains twice, but safety Connor Hood foiled their plans of cutting into Davie’s lead. On the ninth play of the series, Hood stepped in front of the receiver and returned the INT 64 yards to bump the lead to 20-6.
The Mustangs, though, were undeterred. They put together a nine-play, 52-yard drive to draw within 20-14 at halftime.
Davie landed a body blow early in the second half. Gavin Reese returned the kickoff 50 yards to the Parkland 45, and six plays later, Grey Deal added a marvelous catch to his collection. From the Parkland 16, Miller fired to the middle of the end zone. Not only did the defender grab Deal before the ball arrived, the pass glanced off the defender’s arm. Deal still reeled it in as Davie took a 26-14 lead.
The Mustangs were not impressed. Riley Horton, a 6-3, 185-pound junior quarterback, rolled out and threw deep to Kayden Crowell for a 38-yard score. Now it was 26-21 with 1:39 left in the third.
“I think he’s one of the best QBs in the CPC,” Z. Richardson said of Horton. “We had to contain the edges. We worked hard after practice as much as we could.”
A fourth-and-2 play from the Parkland 39 was a pivotal moment. Parkland faked a punt and tried a reverse to Brock Jackson. Z. Richardson blew it up for a loss of seven. Two plays later, Summers was in the end zone, a 28-yard run that made it 32-21 with 9:12 to go.
But Parkland, like it’s done all year, showed admirable staying power. A Davie defensive back appeared ready to intercept Horton’s long pass, but Antwan Hughes came out of nowhere to grab it and he raced 46 yards to paydirt. Parkland was within 32-27 with 6:45 left.
“There were some plays here and there that we could’ve run a little bit better or kept a better awareness throughout the play,” Z. Richardson said. “But I honestly think most of the defense did very well. The effort was there for sure. I just feel like the execution could’ve been a little better.”
No, the offense did not perform to capacity with four TDs on 11 possessions, which is subpar by Davie’s standards. But it had a trump card in Summers, who carried the ball nine times during a 13-play drive. Of the 80 yards en route to the end zone, 74 of them belonged to Summers, who scored with 2:25 remaining to all but put Parkland away at 40-27.
“Markel is an excellent player,” Z. Richardson said. “It’s honestly such an honor to be on the same team as Markel. I played against him when it was Shady Grove against Cornatzer and Ellis versus South Davie. I had always been against him. It’s so good to have him on my team these last four years. He’s so well-rounded. I think he’s amazing.”
At do-or-die time, the Mustangs responded with a 15-play, 82-yard scoring drive – but the series ate too much time as far as Parkland was concerned. Only six seconds remained when it closed the gap to 40-33. Davie recovered the onside kick and walked away with its highest CPC win total in seven seasons.
Summers carried the ball 37 times and raised his season total to 1,325 yards, which ranks 10th on the single-season list. Only Tate Carney (327 yards in a 62-43 win over Reynolds in the spring of 2021) and Cooter Arnold (322 yards in a 43-17 win over South Rowan in 2004) have had bigger rushing nights.
“Last year my goal was 1,000 yards and I told the offensive line that I would take them for a meal,” Summers said. “I got so busy in the summer that I wasn’t able to. I told them if we up my yards this year that I will take them to Golden Corral. That would be great because they have a buffet.”
Notes: In the first half, 6-3, 300-pound senior left guard Evan Copeland injured his left shoulder. He wore an ice pack and watched the rest of the game from the sideline. The good news: Coach Tim Devericks does not believe it’s a season-ending injury. Copeland was replaced by sophomore Jakob Alexander. “I was so happy Jakob was able to make an appearance, hold that spot down and keep the rushing game going,” Summers said. … Summers said he’s up to five scholarship offers. “I’m talking to East Tennessee State now,” he said Friday. “I just got off the phone with their running back coach.” … Although Miller threw for a season-low 148 yards, he did extend his record streak of consecutive games with a TD pass to 20. … Horton threw for 295 yards and four TDs, but Davie’s defense forced him to attempt 49 passes to get there. … The War Eagles won the turnover battle 0-4. After only managing two INTs in the first eight games, they had three in this one alone. … Not only did Branham get two picks on his Senior Night, Z. Richardson got his team-high third fumble recovery. … Penalties made it a sloppy game and no band made it a blah atmosphere. The game was moved up to Thursday because rain was in Friday’s forecast, and the band had a prior commitment. Davie was penalized 16 times for 189 yards; Parkland was flagged 11 times for 90 yards. … Davie’s tackle leaders were Elijah Chaffin (10), Hood (eight), Landon Barber (seven), Matty Warner (seven) and A. Richardson (five). … Braxton Bowling and Hood broke up three passes each. … The final regular-season game is Friday night at Glenn (3-6, 2-4) at 7.