War Eagles overcome adversity; put up 51 on Mooresville
By Brian Pitts
Davie’s varsity football team was missing three starters on offense. Big Spencer Williams, a third-year starter at offensive tackle; Brodie Smith, the receiving star against Lake Norman; and Markel Summers, who may not be an official starter but plays starter minutes, were unavailable against visiting Mooresville in the final nonconference game on Friday.
It showed the War Eagles’ mettle that they could win convincingly on a night when they were handed several excuses and needed none of them. The offense did whatever it wanted, the defense was clutch on third downs and quarterback Alex Summers was beyond sensational as Davie raced to a 51-34 victory.
While the Blue Devils fell to 1-2, Davie, ranked 13th in the state by MaxPreps, started 3-0 for the third straight season.
“I told them yesterday if I didn’t believe in the people we had to come out here and execute and be in the ballgame, then I wouldn’t have wanted to play the game,” said coach Tim Devericks, who was also missing Brandon Wood and Cole Warner on defense. “Those kids took it to heart. We faced adversity all week and the coaches did a great job. We had a plan on Monday; that changed and we had to adjust. The kids did a great job of taking coaching and executing.”
Just when you think you’ve seen everything the senior quarterback can do, he does this. Summers hit 22 of 27 passes for 430 yards and five touchdowns, breaking the program record for passing yards in a game and tying the record for TD throws in a game.
Running back Tate Carney said: “Alex played phenomenal. He got out of pressure. He made smart throws. I couldn’t be happier with him tonight.”
Receiver Zymere Hudson: “Alex was amazing. He was putting the ball on the money.”
Receiver Za’Haree Maddox: “He puts it where it’s supposed to be. He was definitely threading the needle.”
If you were wondering whether Davie could overcome adversity and handle Mooresville, you had your answer in the first four minutes. On the third play from scrimmage, Summers slid left to avoid the rush and flipped a pass to Aidan Froelich, who roared 34 yards. Carney scored three plays later.
Mooresville punted from its end zone and Davie capitalized on a short field in two plays, Summers connecting with Maddox and Hudson, who scored a 16-yard TD on a slant pass.
Mooresville went three-and-out, Carney converted a fourth-and-3 with a shifty 12-yard run and Davie reached the Mooresville 3 before settling for Palmer Williams’ 26-yard field goal, the first 3-point attempt in the junior’s varsity career. It was 17-0 just a shade over 10 minutes into the game.
“This really boosts the whole team’s confidence,” Carney said. “Whenever we have those players return for conference, it’s going to make us a step better.”
Mooresville drove 80 yards to cut the margin to 17-7, but everyone seemed to know they were watching something special when Davie answered in three plays. Hudson caught a long pass over the middle and went the distance – 85 yards, the longest completion in eight seasons.
On Davie’s next possession, Maddox caught a pass, worked left and reversed field around right end to gain 23 yards. On the next play, Carney moved from the backfield to the slot, beat a linebacker and hauled in a 48-yard TD to make it 31-7.
“That was installed during the game,” Carney said. “That was brand new. They were playing man and didn’t have the personnel to match up with us if we ran a seam right up the middle. The linebacker tried (to cover), but he wasn’t there.”
Hudson (eight catches for 197 yards and three TDs) and Maddox (9 catches, 105 yards) allowed Summers to pick the Blue Devils apart. Hudson, who had 54 yards over the first two games while other receivers made explosive plays, had his breakout game.
Said Hudson, who recorded the fourth-most receiving yards in a Davie game: “Florida (was the best play). I’m not going to explain what it is because I don’t want to put that information out. Just know Florida.”
Summers: “We had some people out, so he had to step up. And he stepped up and delivered.”
Devericks: “Week 1 was Za’Haree, Week 2 was Brodie and Week 3 was Zymere. Zymere was a captain tonight and they get to speak on Thursday. All he said was I want to win. He’s about competing and wanting the team to win.”
Maddox made electric YAC plays (yards after catch). His night could have been even bigger if not for two TDs being called back.
Summers: “It’s something different every play. I’ll tell you, he’s different. He’s quick and shifty.”
Devericks: “Man, he is elusive with the ball in his hands. He’s so quick and shifty that they can’t get a square hit.”
Smith was the team leader in catches and receiving yards after two games, but his injured left wrist kept him out. That meant sophomore JV call-up Evan York was the next man up. He distinguished himself with three catches for 46 yards, all of them contested.
There was more to this offensive masterpiece (eight scores in 12 possessions). Carney rushed for 185 yards and scored three times, marking his 16th 100-yard game. He did it against a stacked box.
“In a crowded box, he knew the first man couldn’t bring him down,” Devericks said.
At 31-7 with four minutes left in the first half, it was a total butt-kicking. But credit Davyn Reid (104 receiving yards), Jawarn Howell (125 rushing yards) and Mooresville for battling back. Reid took a kickoff 99 yards to make it 31-14. He scored three TDs in all.
Davie fumbled after reaching the Mooresville 13. Early in the third quarter, Reid caught a bomb for a 40-yard TD that chopped Davie’s lead to 31-21.
“Super player,” Devericks said of Reid. “We knew we had to know where he was at all times. But sometimes players just make plays. (Howell) is a very hard tackle. Playing against a guy like that is only going to help us with what we’re going to face (in the conference).”
Mooresville was back in the game, but Davie’s offense could not be stopped. Carney juked defenders on a 35-yard scamper. York and Hudson made catches before Maddox caught a short TD to cap an 80-yard march. Eight minutes later, Maddox had a 22-yard catch-and-run. Hudson dominated the rest of the 65-yard drive, making catches for 17, 19 and 10 yards and pushing the lead to 44-21.
The cherry on top was Carney busting a 52-yarder around right end. That gave Davie 149 points in three games, which is insane.
The offensive line did its part in Davie’s monster performance. A freshman, Jackson Powers, filled in for Williams at left tackle. Sophomore Brysen Godbey and senior Brandon Logan rotated at left guard. Junior Charlie Frye, senior Ethan Doub and sophomore Evan Froelich handled the duties at center, RG and RT, respectively.
Summers: “The whole o-line did their thing.”
Devericks: “Jackson was one of the guys I talked to yesterday in front of the team. He did it all summer. When people were out and on vacation, he was in there taking those reps. We didn’t ask him to do anything tonight that he didn’t do all summer, so he was mentally ready. He gave Alex time.
“I talked to Evan and Jackson in front of the team. We didn’t know Za’Haree’s situation in the summer and Evan was taking those reps. They both responded.”
This is not a great defense – not yet anyway – but it scratched and clawed, turned back Mooresville on nine of 11 third-down tries and got two more big stops – one on a fourth-and-7 and another on a two-point play.
It might be an undersized unit, but it’s a bunch of grinders and dreamers and defensive coordinator Blaine Nicholson will take that.
JT Bumgarner and teammates had a 10-yard sack to the Mooresville 2 in Davie’s first defensive series. Blake Jenkins and Andrew Shuler forced a punt with back-to-back tackles. On a fourth-and-7 from Davie’s 13, Jenkins broke up a pass in the end zone. When it was 44-34, a successful two-point play would have given Mooresville life with 2:08 to go. Coy James forced an incompletion to preserve the two-score lead.
“When you look at the score and see we gave up 34 points, it looks like we didn’t do our part,” Nicholson said. “But they have an elite receiver (Reid) and we held them to 18 percent on third down. We had eight tackles for losses. We’re not physically overpowering and we’re not burners, either. But man, our guys run around like their hair is on fire.”
Logan Yokley (10 tackles), Jadon Davis (eight), Shuler (seven, James (seven), Willie Purvis (six), Jenkins (six) and Justin Hayes (six) were the top tacklers. Mason Shermer, Shuler and Matty Warner each had two tackles for loss. Purvis, James, Davis, John Stokes, Silas Fuller and Bumgarner had one TFL apiece.
“They threw a pass to their H-back,” Nicholson said. “He weighs about 250 and Blake weighs about 150. Blake absolutely laid it on the line for his boys. He cut the dude’s legs out. Blake knocked the breath out of himself and was out the next couple of plays. But he came back in.
“Logan has been exciting for us. He’s just a calm, cool, collected guy. I said: ‘Man, you had a great game.’ He said: ‘Yeah, thanks.’ He’s a blue-collar guy.
“Andrew has been a humongous find for us. He took his sophomore year off and he played behind Avery (Taylor) last year. But this year he has to be accounted for on the edge, and he always does what he’s coached to do.”
Fuller, Bumgarner, M. Warner, Zane Smith, Stokes and Shermer worked in the trenches.
“JT probably had his best game,” Nicholson said. “He was all over it when the defense almost got a safety. Mason has a nose for the ball. Even when it’s away, he’s chasing it down from the back side.”