Turning the Page: After losing early lead, Davie scores late to win
By Brian Pitts
For the Salisbury Post
Davie County was dominating and the visiting War Eagles were going to make a big statement on opening night. And then the Page Pirates were dominating and they were going to win going away.
And then something incredible happened and Davie scored three touchdowns in less than five minutes to pull out a heart-pounding 39-29 victory.
Talk about wild mood swings. Davie led 16-0 after the first quarter. Page scored 29 unanswered points in the second and third quarters, including three TDs in less than six minutes. But Davie went off at do-or-die time, regaining the lead with 4:12 to play and landing the knockout blow with 2:23 left.
Cooper Wall scored the go-ahead touchdown on a scintillating play. QB Chris Reynolds flipped a bubble screen, Wall used his blocks and weaved through traffic before hitting another gear and going 57 yards to the end zone. Jared Griggs’ extra point gave Davie a 33-29 lead. Peyton Hampton shut the door with a 7-yard TD run.
“It was like a street fight,” Davie coach DeVore Holman said. “We won the first-quarter fight. They won the second-quarter fight. They really got it in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, though, our kids fought. They fought because we believe in fighting until the bitter end.”
The road team prevailed for the sixth straight year in this back-and-forth series. Wall did historic stuff, making 11 catches for 235 yards and two TDs. That’s the second-most receiving yards in Davie’s 61-year history, behind Ben Ellis’ 253 against West Rowan in 2014. It was just the third 200-yard receiving game in Davie annals. And it was Wall’s sixth consecutive 100-yard game dating to 2015, extending his record in that category.
Davie came out on fire, going 76 yards in six plays and scoring on a 40-yard pass from Reynolds to Wall. Reynolds, who threw for 288 yards and three TDs to offset two picks, was completing passes right and left at the beginning, including a 12-yarder in the back of the end zone to Beau Byerly to make it 14-0.
Page snapped the ball over the punter’s head, the ball bounding into the end zone for a safety to push Davie’s lead to 16-0 late in the first quarter.
But now it was Page’s turn to control things. Will Jones, who threw for 286 yards, found Ronald Polite for 29 yards to put the Pirates on the board. On their next possession, Maryland-bound runner Javon Leake rumbled 31 yards to paydirt. Page made it three TDs in as many possessions when Leake ran 20 yards. Jones’ two-point conversion gave Page a 22-16 halftime lead.
Page’s Tarvis Martin returned the second-half kickoff 77 yards and Jones hit Leake for 13 yards on a fourth-and-11 play to extend Davie’s deficit to 29-16.
The momentum turned for Davie when Page fumbled it away from its 2 with 10:43 remaining. Davie did have to settle for Jared Griggs’ 25-yard field goal to make it 29-19. But three plays later, sophomore safety Hite Merrifield robbed a Page receiver over the middle, an interception that set up Davie at the Page 35.
“That was awesome,” Holman. “Hite took a chance and did a good job on it.”
Eight plays later, Reynolds sliced in from the 2 to pull Davie within 29-26.
Davie forced a punt after Anthony Olmedo and James Boyle delivered tackles for losses. On second-and-10, Reynolds tossed the bubble screen that resulted in Wall’s 57-yard TD.
“I can’t wait to see it on film because we had a lineman get out and spring it wide open, and then Cooper turned on the jets,” Holman said.
Reeling, Page got a punt blocked by Broc Barnette less than two minutes later. Matt Nesbit scooped it and reached the Page 18, setting up Hampton’s clinching 7-yard TD that capped the scoring.
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