Catawba blows past Davidson
DAVIDSON — Catawba coach Curtis Walker was excited about both his quarterbacks after a breezy 35-7 win at Davidson kicked off the season on Saturday night.
That’s sophomore QB Mike Sheehan, who directs Catawba’s offense, and senior linebacker Jason Taylor, who orchestrates the defense.
“Mike was great, but Jason was no less important as the quarterback of the defense,” Walker said. “What Mike did for us on offense, Jason did on defense. Jason got guys in the right places.”
Catawba was in control 28-0 by halftime, and it was 35-0 when Sheehan sat down early in the third quarter.
Sheehan started a game in 2013 because of injury, but this was his first start as the Indians’ first-string quarterback. He was about as good as you can be — 12-for-13 for 174 yards. He threw scoring passes to freshman Keyon West, Carlos Tarrats and Tyler Hamilton. Sheehan had zero interceptions, zero sacks and zero major mistakes.
“We had a few fumbles on offense, things we’ve got to take care of, but it was a good way to start,” Sheehan said. “We didn’t punt in the first half. That’s always good.”
A 67-yard pick-six by Catawba linebacker Jamal Lackey got the scoring started with 8:33 left in the first quarter.
“Very proud of Lackey and very happy with our team chemistry tonight,” Taylor said.
A pass was telegraphed by Davidson QB J.P. Douglas, and Lackey jumped all over it.
“They’d already ran that play once, so I was ready for it,” Lackey said. “I saw it coming, broke on the ball and made the play.”
Lackey’s play was an early turning point. Catawba dominated the rest of the first half.
“That was the spark,” Walker said. “I thought we’d started a little slow, but Lackey got guys excited. We steamrolled after that.”
Sheehan’s first TD pass was a 30-yarder to West and made it 14-0 with 4:42 left in the first quarter.
The backbreaker for the Wildcats (1-1) came early in the second quarter when Sheehan connected with Tarrats on a 31-yard scoring play on a fourth-and-8. That pushed the lead to 21-0.
“We liked what we saw as we lined up, and we threw their defense off some by changing the cadence on that pass,” Sheehan said. “We snapped it quick, and Carlos ran a route that he’s very good at.
“The other key to the play was (running back) Trey Mashore making a great pickup in pass protection. That’s what gave me time to make the throw.”
Hamilton, Catawba’s veteran tight end, caught the TD pass that made it 28-0 with 2:43 left in the half.
“I fumbled early in the game, but I wanted to make up for it, and I was able to clear my head and move past it.” Hamilton said.
Sheehan threw only two passes in the second half, before sitting down, including one that Gary Williams reeled in with a diving sideline catch.
Catawba pounded away on the ground, hammering out 310 yards on 51 rushing plays. Mashore led the way with 78 rushing yards. David Burgess had 51, Cary Littlejohn 46 and Eamon Smart 36. Sheehan also did his share — 56 yards on eight rugged carries.
Burgess had a tough run from the Davidson 8 that produced Catawba’s lone second-half TD.
“Our offensive line played well,” Walker said. “They did everything we asked, opening holes for the backs as well as in pass protection. We were a tight unit on offense, and our linemen were of one accord.”
Terence Williams picked off a pass while Mark McDaniel had eight tackles.
Davidson got on the board on a run by David Rogers with 7:37 left.