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Saturday, August 30, 2014

West survives Davie, prepares for Reagan

Published Thursday, October 24, 2013

By CHRIS MACKIE

  • Titan receiver Nick Simmons battles a Davie defender for the ball.

When your host wears orange, a full moon is in the sky and the month is October, strange things can happen.

The West Forsyth football team discovered as much last Friday during a scary trip to Mocksville.

Matched against a dangerous War Eagle team that was much better than its 2-5 record would indicate, the Titans had to survive a slow start and a frustrating series of near-miss scoring situations before pulling out a 15-10 victory.

The win was West’s eighth in nine games. More importantly, it was their fourth in a row in Central Piedmont Conference play. Tied with local rival Reagan for first place in CPC standings, the Titans (4-0) will meet the Raiders (3-0) this Friday night in a highly-anticipated showdown.

“We won with smoke and mirrors last week but the important thing is that we won,” West coach Adrian Snow said earlier this week. “We stayed tied for the (Central Piedmont) lead and gave ourselves a chance to get at least a share of the conference title this week.

“But it’s going to be another tough game. Josh (McGee, the Reagan head coach) has a pretty special bunch.”

Titans down 10-0 early

Against Davie, the Titans found themselves in a special situation midway into the second quarter of a game they were favored to win. A fumble and turnover on the first West play from scrimmage resulted in quick a 3-0 Davie lead in the opening period.

In the second quarter, a quarterback scramble and busted downfield coverage by West produced a 40-yard War Eagle touchdown and a 10-0 Davie lead.

Simmons makes key catch

The struggling Titans finally got the break they were looking for later in the second quarter when a long pass from quarterback Darion Slade to receiver Nick Simmons produced a 52-yard gain and set up the first West TD of the night.

On the play, Simmons, a 6-4 senior, hauled in the deflection after a Davie defender tipped the ball into the air before falling to the turf. Simmons briefly bobbled the carom but managed to pull it in before racing down the sideline to reach the Davie four-yard line. Two plays later, Slade sprinted around the right side for a three-yard score.

Asked about the momentum his catch generated, Simmons said he was just glad he could contribute.

“At first I was just trying to make sure their guy didn’t pick it off,” he explained later. “Then when it popped into the air, I saw that I had a shot at it. I thought I was out of bounds when I caught it but when I didn’t hear a whistle, I took off down the sideline. It was definitely the biggest catch of the year for me.”

Titan defense owns 2nd half

The West defense dominated the second half, narrowing the gap to 10-9 in the third quarter when defensive end Quintin Brinkley brought down Davie running back Cade Carney in the War Eagle end zone for a safety. Brinkley, West’s leading tackler this season, finished the night with two sacks.

Junior end Jalen Dalton led the way up front with 3 1/2 sacks. The Titan defense produced a total of 10 tackles for losses.

Slade keys winning drive

After misfiring on several scoring chances in the third quarter, the West offense finally delivered the play it needed midway into the fourth. Sprinting to his right, Slade broke loose for a 56-yard gain that put the Titans inside of the Davie 10-yard line. Two snaps later, Slade raced around the left side and into the end zone for the go-ahead score.

Slade finished the game with 106 yards rushing on 22 carries. Titan running back Kealand Dirks ran for 91 yards on 21 carries.

“It wasn’t our greatest game offensively but you have to give Davie credit for that,” Snow said. “They played us tough.”

First place on the line this week

Snow added that he expects the same kind of treatment when the Titans step onto the Reagan field this Friday.

The Raiders, led by junior quarterback Jake Easter, blasted Parkland 53-0 last week to lift their overall record to 6-2. Reagan beat West for the first time ever last season.

“They remind me of a mix between High Point Central and Statesville, only with better athletes,” Snow said, referencing two of West’s non-conference opponents this season. “They are big, fast and well-coached. Easter is an outstanding quarterback who can throw the ball anywhere and he has receivers who can go get it.