Prep Football: Davie 41, Watauga 7
By Bret Strelow
MOCKSVILLE ó Davie County quarterback Zach Illing made his first varsity start, and Wataugaintercepted his first pass.
An unlucky carom didn’t take the bounce out of his step.
The turnover helped Watauga establish an early lead, but Illing responded with a pair of touchdown passes to Joe Watson as the War Eagles rolled to a 41-7 victory in their season opener Friday night.
Illing finished 10 of 14 for 132 yards, and bruising running back James Mayfield rushed 17 times for 143 yards. His 33-yard touchdown gave Davie a 28-7 lead going into the break, and he scored again midway through the third quarter.”I just had to bounce back,” Illing said. “I knew the team was going to bounce back.”
The outcome wasn’t in question for long.
Illing attempted his first throw on Davie’s third play from scrimmage, and the ball hit receiver Jarrell Marshall in the chest before popping high into the air. Justin Chandler came down with the interception, and the Pioneers converted one fourth down on their 30-yard scoring drive.
Watauga quarterback Devan Corum reached the end zone on a 2-yard keeper with 6:43 left in the quarter, and Mayfield surged past midfield on a 42-yard kickoff return. He gained 22 yards on a first-down run, and Illing fired a pass down the left sideline on the next play.Watson made the catch and raced into the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown.
“I was real proud of (Zach’s) leadership on the sideline,” said Davie coach Doug Illing, the quarterback’s father. “He goes over to Jarrell and pats him up. They got back to feeling good about themselves, and then he goes out and throws a TD on his next pass.”
Perry James’ 23-yard punt return gave Davie good field position for its next possession, and Marshall caught two passes. The drive ended with another throw to Watson.
Watson, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound sophomore, cut across the middle of the end zone and hauled in a 9-yard toss from Illing with 1:52 left in the opening quarter.”They were right on point,” Watson said. “To be honest, I think he made me look good. I didn’t have to work too hard to catch them.”
Watauga had a tougher time playing catch-up.
The Pioneers faced a fourth-down situation from their own 19-yard line, and punter Dennis McMenamin chased the ball into the end zone after he couldn’t handle a relatively high snap.
He shanked a kick to his right under heavy pressure, and Davie’s Santana Arnold caught the ball as his momentum carried him over the goal line for an easy touchdown.
“I didn’t realize where I was,” Arnold said. “When I caught it, then I saw the referee throw his hands up. I was surprised.”
Mayfield posted the next two touchdowns for Davie, which played without linebacker Jared Barber (strep throat). A dose of bad luck for Watauga made Mayfield’s second score possible.
The Pioneers fielded the second-half kickoff and needed only three plays to reach Davie’s 8. Running back Baine Martin sidestepped a few defenders en route to the end zone, but he dropped the ball before breaking the plane. He tried to dive on the fumble and came up empty.
Players from both teams converged near the left side of the end zone, and the ball squirted out of bounds for a touchback that gave Davie possession at its 20. Mayfield capped a 12-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
“When you give up big plays to a team that’s got those kinds of athletes,” first-year Watauga coach Tim Pruitt said, “you’re going to end up on the wrong end of the scoreboard.”