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Davie fights hard, but falls to West Forsyth

By Brian Pitts

For The Salisbury Post

MOCKSVILLE —Few folks expected a major contest when West Forsyth visited Davie County last night. The War Eagles, who were lackluster the week before at Reagan, looked overmatched on paper against the Titans.

But Davie brought an inspired effort. Davie led, 15-7, at halftime and it was 22-22 after three quarters. The Titans (5-2, 2-0 Central Piedmont Conference) emerged with a 36-22 decision, but it was no day at the beach. They scored two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes to notch their fourth straight win. Davie fell to 3-5, 1-2.

“I’m going to steal a line from coach (Dabo) Swinney from Clemson: We brought our guts tonight,” West coach Adrian Snow said. “We had to. They got after us early, we had to make some adjustments, and our kids just gutted it out.”

“Their heads are hanging down right now,” Davie coach Devore Holman said. “That’s the most I’ve seen them fight for each other all year. Sometimes it’s a toss-up. If we can fight hard like this the rest of the way out, some of those toss-ups are going to bounce our way.”

Davie’s gutsy quarterback, Chris Reynolds, rushed for 108 yards and passed for 268 while hitting 26 of 38 attempts. Sure-handed receivers Ben Ellis (10 catches for 95 yards) and Cooper Wall (nine catches for 109 yards) were brilliant as Davie outperformed West in first downs (27-14), rushing yards (228-154) and total yards (496-421). Cody Hendrix, James Boyle and the defense held West to 2-for-9 on third-down conversions.

The difference in the game: Davie had four turnovers to West’s zero, and West had a stud named Darion Slade. All Slade did was rush for 112 yards, catch six passes for 136 yards and score three TDs (one rushing, two receiving). QB Jayshawn McMillan went nine of 15 for 262 yards and three TDs.

“I told our kids on Monday: ‘You think it’s going to be this and that, but you’re wrong. Their backs are against the wall,’” Snow said. “I knew it was going to be a fight.”

“If you look at it on paper, you probably say they will blow us out of here,” Holman said.

Davie went 98 yards in 13 plays to grab an 8-0 lead, scoring on Curtis Gray’s 1-yard run and getting two points on Beau Byerly’s juggling catch on the ground.

The Titans missed a 30-yard field goal and needed a jolt. Linebacker Baer Hunter gave them a boost with an interception that he returned to the Davie 14 to set up a short TD run that cut West’s deficit to 8-7.

But with 39 seconds left in the first half, Reynolds and Wall hooked up for a 46-yard score to make it 15-7.

Midway through the third quarter, Slade caught a pass against tight coverage at the Davie 40 and went to the house for a 74-yard TD. McMillan’s two-point run tied it at 15. On West’s next possession, Marcus Caldwell caught a flare pass and went 55 yards to give West a 22-15 lead.

Keyed by Reynolds’ 35-yard keeper, Davie quickly marched 71 yards, with Gray’s 1-yard TD and Jared Griggs’ extra point tying it at 22 in the final minute of the third.

On third-and-goal at the Davie 16, Slade went up between two defenders to pull down a TD that gave West the lead for keeps at 29-22 with 9:51 to go.

“He’s a player,” Snow said. “Everybody in Davie County knew where that ball was going. Everybody. I told him if he didn’t catch it I was going to make him walk back to Clemmons, and he went up and made the play.”

“They’ve got a special guy over there,” Holman said of Slade. “I’m going to tell you what, you can’t hem him up in a phone booth sometimes.”

The War Eagles were not about to pack it in. In a 13-play drive, they moved from their 24 to the West 7. But after a 15-yard chop block penalty forced second-and-goal at the 23, defensive end K.J. Henry intercepted a pass and rumbled 95 yards to all but settle the issue at 36-22 with 4:46 left.

Davie kept clawing, driving to the West 18 before turning it over on downs. That was that.

“We fought as hard as we could,” Holman said. “It didn’t bounce our way tonight.”

“They’ve got good players,” Snow said. “Ellis is a heck of a player. No. 81 (Wall) is a heck of a player. The quarterback (Reynolds) can play. We knew they were going to be a tough out. But our kids fought.”

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