Prep Football Playoffs: Dudley 29, Davie 25: War Eagles lose on Hail-Mary
By Brian Pitts
MOCKSVILLE ó Davieís 25-7 lead in the third quarter was a cruel tease. Visiting Dudley wouldnít back down, scoring 22 unanswered points in the final 16:44. Its game-winning touchdown with six seconds left – on a 34-yard Hail Mary on fourth-and-20 – fell somewhere between unlikely and impossible, and it dealt Davie a brutal 29-25 defeat in the first round of the 4A playoffs.
It was an emotional night for the Panthers even before this battle began. Their defensive coordinator, Ken Page, passed away earlier in the day.
ěWe had a guarding angel watching over us tonight,î Dudley coach Steven Davis said. ěKen Page died today before we left to come here, and I know heís watching over us. Heís been like a father to me since Iíve been coaching football back in ë94.î
Dudley (6-5) has won six of seven since an 0-4 start, the only loss during that span to unbeaten Page. It trailed 14-0 in the second quarter and 17-7 at the half.
ěThese guys hung in there, and we got a play at the end,î Davis said. ěMaybe if we didnít turn it over so much (four lost fumbles), we wouldnít have had to make it so dramatic.î
Davie walked off with a bitter taste, finishing 8-4 one year after roaring to the 4A state final.
ěI donít know how you can,î Davie coach Doug Illing replied when asked how to explain the sick feeling. ěIím not prepared for that. Itís their kids making a great play. They started believing. They were on an emotional high at the end. What a time for us to have a three-and-out when we needed to get a first down.î
Six straight runs by Stephon Smoot and Adam Smith put Davie ahead 7-0 less than three minutes into the game. Davie drove 89 yards for the 14-0 lead, scoring on a 21-yard pass from Smith to Nate Jones.
Dudley had 11 rushes on an 11-play scoring drive that cut Davieís lead to 14-7, but Woody Parrishís 39-yard field goal on the final play of the half made it 17-7.
Davie was in complete control when Smith connected with Mitchell Miller for a 40-yard TD. There was a bad snap on the extra point, but holder Smith gathered it and hit Johnathan Wiseman for two points and the 25-7 lead.
It looked as if Davie was going to roll on. But Dudley controlled the rest of the game. The main reasons why were QB Richard Hayes and running back Keenon Sharpe.
The Panthers drove 91 yards, running the ball on 11 of 12 plays, to cut it to 25-15. Sharpe scored the TD and the two-point conversion.
One turning point: Smithís run on a fake punt on fourth-and-9 was marked inches short at the Dudley 36. ěI thought we got a bad spot,î Illing said.
Jamal Lackey and Kyle Bullins sacked Hayes and forced a fumble that Davieís A.J. Blaskievich recovered at the Davie 42 with 10:14 left. But Smoot fumbled it to Dudley three plays later.
Sharpeís 5-yard run capped a 55-yard drive that pulled Dudley to 25-22 with 6:30 left. After a three-and-out by Davie, Dudley came up with a 15-play, 78-yard drive to steal it at the end.
Davie had Dudley in fourth-and-long dilemmas twice. On fourth-and-7, Hayes scrambled for 11 yards. On fourth-and-20 at the 34, Hayes unloaded before getting hit. Brandon Reynolds caught it around the Davie 2. A defender hit Reynolds, sending him into a helicopter spin. But he landed in the end zone with six seconds left.
For the devastated War Eagles, a loss like this will sting for years.
ěYou throw up a Hail Mary,î Illing said. ěYouíve got a kid thatís hungry for it, and he goes and gets it. It looks like he got lost in the scramble, and it looks like we lost our coverage there and just blew it.
ěBut thereís so many other plays in that game. We had opportunities to salt it away and we didnít take care of it. We should have cashed in on several fumbles earlier in the game. We didnít get any points out of them. We should have been up 21- or 28-0.î
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