Davie County tops Mt. Tabor, continues its roll
By Brian Pitts
For the Salisbury Post
WINSTON-SALEM — Don’t let the 35-14 margin fool you. Davie’s football team was in some trouble in the fourth quarter of last night’s high-stakes showdown at Mt. Tabor.
After the War Eagles had established a 14-0 lead, Mt. Tabor scored two touchdowns in a span of 1:28, and it was a 14-14 struggle with 11:39 remaining.
But with the heat on, the War Eagles rose to the occasion, erupted for three TDs in less than eight minutes and continued their magic-carpet ride.
At 9-1 overall and 5-0 in the Central Piedmont Conference, Davie clinched at least a share of its first title since 2011. With Parkland coming to Mocksville next week, it is now seeking its first outright title since 2004. Its seventh straight win marks the longest streak since the 2004 team won 14 in a row.
Meanwhile, the Spartans (8-3, 4-2) are out of the first-place hunt.
“To be in a big game like this, tied 14-14, I’d pick no other group to be by my side,” senior offensive tackle Luke Pratapas said. “We’ve handled tough situations all year, and we’ve managed to come out on top in most of them. I really believe in my guys, and it’s time to make a run.”
The Spartans put up a good fight. Both teams had 15 first downs, and Mt. Tabor had an advantage in yards (345-313). But Davie’s defense turned back 9 of 12 third-down conversions and all three of Mt. Tabor’s attempts on fourth down.
Davie also won the turnover battle 3-0, and quarterback Chris Reynolds accounted for 209 yards passing and running.
On the game’s first possession, Mt. Tabor went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Davie 49. Running back Da’Quan Mason took a direct snap from a hammer formation and swept right. He was met by linebacker James Boyle, losing a yard. Mason came in averaging 132 rushing yards a game, but Davie held him to 69.
Mt. Tabor quarterback Kedrick Patterson completed a 51-yard pass to Teddy Christakos on its next series, but safety Hite Merrifield recovered a fumble at the Davie 30 on the next play.
After the War Eagles’ first three possessions resulted in punts, Reynolds shook off a slow start to complete three straight passes — two to Cooper Wall — as Davie marched 72 yards in 10 plays, scoring on a 1-yard run by Peyton Hampton. It was 7-0 with 7:03 left in the first half.
Mt. Tabor’s Ben Gardner was wide left on a 29-yard field goal attempt, Spencer Wilson thwarted a Mt. Tabor drive in Davie territory with a 7-yard sack and the half ended with Davie ahead by seven.
Reynolds, who came in averaging 229 passing yards per game, was limited to 161 as he completed 12 of 27 passes. But with Davie facing third-and-24 from its own 25 early in the third, Reynolds delivered the kind of play he often has over two years – a 46-yarder to Tyler Roberts on a fly route down the Davie sideline.
“They had a safety coming and they had a corner underneath, and Chris dropped it in there and Tyler made a great move off the line to get open,” Davie coach Tim Devericks said.
Three plays later, Reynolds went to the beastly Wall, who went up high to snag a 23-yard TD on a fade route, capping an eight-play, 77-yard drive and giving Davie the 14-0 lead.
“It was like a jump ball in basketball, and Cooper really went up and used his athletic ability,” Devericks said.
Davie appeared in complete control when outside linebacker Broc Barnette intercepted a long pass at the Davie 30. But the momentum turned when Tabor’s D.J. Morgan snapped off a 50-yard run to the Davie 42. The Spartans would drive 92 yards, with nine of the 10 plays on the ground, to cut the margin to 14-7.
Davie ran four plays and punted. On first down, Patterson found Blake Whiteheart over the middle, and he rumbled 80 yards to tie the game at 14 with 11:39 to play.
Mitchell Ijames, a junior defensive back, was burned on the 80-yard play. But he turned out to be a big reason Davie prevailed. On second-and-11, Patterson looked for Whiteheart again. But this time Ijames came through with a pick and returned it 22 yards to the Mt. Tabor 18.
“I knew they were going to come back to it, and I came down on it,” said Ijames, who picked a most opportune time for his first varsity pick. “I let my team down when he did a double move (on the 80-yard TD). But I didn’t put my head down. I told my teammates that was not going to happen again. I went for it and I got it.”
Reynolds scampered 15 and 3 yards on back-to-back plays, and Davie had a 21-14 lead with 9:36 left. After Angel Perez-Hunt and the Davie defense forced a three-and-out, Davie sent the Spartans to the canvas. A Reynolds keeper resulted in 26 yards to the Mt. Tabor 10. On third-and-7 from the 7, Reynolds whipped a laser on a slant to Roberts, providing a 28-14 lead with only 4:09 left.
A little over two minutes later, Hampton supplied the exclamation mark with a 15-yard TD run.
Davie DBs Perez-Hunt, Ta’saun Martin, Ijames and Merrifield came up big as Davie held Patterson to 9 of 25 for 187 yards, with two INTs. Hampton, a sophomore, had two TD runs, and Cranfill, a freshman, was an unsung hero with a team-high 74 rushing yards. Davie controlled field position virtually all game, with three of Jared Griggs’ eight punts pinning the Spartans inside its 20.