Davie County, without key starters, still defeats Hopewell

Published 12:33 am Saturday, September 17, 2016

By Brian Pitts
For the Salisbury Post

HUNTERSVILLE — It took a while, but once Davie County got its act together, it pulled away for a 37-12 victory at Hopewell last night in the War Eagles’ final non-conference game.
That they won going away was no surprise. But their 6-3 deficit with six minutes left in the first half had coach DeVore Holman and his coaching staff very displeased, even without injured quarterback Chris Reynolds and receiver Cooper Wall for the second game in a row.
“You take a win any time you can get one,” Holman said as Davie improved to 4-1 while Hopewell fell to 1-4. “One of the toughest things in coaching is getting your kids prepared to play an opponent when your opponent’s record may not be as good. Hopewell played hard. Their guys got after it. We came out flat. You’re talking about 15-, 16-, 17-, 18-year-old kids and trying to figure out what’s going on in their minds. I don’t think their minds were where they needed to be at the beginning of this game.”
Davie was splendid against the run (minus-34 rushing yards for Hopewell). It turned back 12 of 13 third-down tries and forced eight punts. But it gave up 269 passing yards, including a 64-yard touchdown that put Davie in the 6-3 hole. Meanwhile, Davie’s offense was having an ugly first half, driving the ball for 16 plays on the game’s opening possession but settling for a 25-yard field goal from Jared Griggs. Davie also kept shooting itself in the foot, fumbling seven times and losing five of them.
“At times we didn’t defend the pass well,” Holman said. “We had three picks, but still they gained a lot of yards on the passing game. (Offensively) our No. 1 thing is protecting the football. We had five turnovers tonight. We were fortunate.”
Kinston Whitener’s interception was a key turning point with 1:38 left in the half. It gave Davie the ball at midfield, and three plays later, Josh Hall threw deep. Tyler Roberts caught it at the Hopewell 24 against one-on-one coverage, the defender slipped and Roberts eased to the end zone – a play that ignited a 20-0 run in a span of 5:42.
“That was a big pick-me-up right there for our team,” Holman said.
After Davie took a 10-6 lead to halftime, Hall’s 38-yard hookup with Cameron Thomas set up Peyton Hampton’s 5-yard TD. Less thantwo minutes later, Broc Barnette picked off a pass and walked in from 24 yards out. Now Davie was feeling at lot better about things.
After a James Boyle sack and a 16-yard punt by Hopewell, Beau Byerly’s 27-yard reception set up first-and-goal. Then Hampton punched in his second TD to make it 30-6 with 4:24 left in the third.
The War Eagles finished with 17 first downs and 366 yards. Freshman Adrian Cranfill (20 carries for 147 yards) had a big night aside from two fumbles. Hall went 11 of 22 for 154 yards and two TDs, connecting four times each with Byerly and Thomas. Hite Merrifield also had an interception, giving the sophomore safety three of the team’s six on the year. Davie got two sacks from Spencer Wilson and one from Barnette, Jalen Redmond, Boyle, Cody Hendrix and Jesus Olmedo.
The War Eagles open Central Piedmont Conference play next week at Reynolds. They have won six straight in the series, and they are expected to have Reynolds and Wall back in the lineup.
“What we’ve done up to this point was to have us battle-tested for these CPC games,” Holman said. “Reynolds is always going to have an athletic team — very athletic.”