West Rowan shoots down Davie with air attack
West goes to the air to defeat War Eagles
By Brian Pitts
For the Salisbury Post
MOCKSVILLE — Davie County had a problem last night, and appropriately enough, his name was Houston.
West Rowan star receiver Jalen Houston was sensational in front of a big crowd, scoring four touchdowns (three receiving and one rushing) while racking up 213 yards on six receptions.
You don’t have a great receiver without a strong triggerman, and senior quarterback Payne Stolsworth rose to the occasion in a big way, completing 15-of-32 passes for 293 yards and four TDs.
The lethal combination carried the Falcons (2-1) to a 38-31 win over the War Eagles, who fell to 1-3, and squandered a double-digit lead for the third time. They led Page by 15 points, Mooresville by 13 and West by 11 — only to lose all three games.
Senior linebacker Daniel Durham deserves a lot of the credit. It was his second-quarter interception that sparked the Falcons, who achieved a measure of revenge for 41-0 and 42-20 losses to Davie during the past two years.
“It is a rivalry game,” an elated West coach Joe Nixon said. “(Davie) is a first-class program and they do it right. So we know if we can compete — not even win — we’ve got a pretty good team. And we haven’t been competitive (with Davie) the past couple of years. So we challenged them all week about character. Each man can choose which kind of character he has. Man, I’m so proud of those cats.”
Davie dictated terms in the first quarter. On third-and-17, QB Nate Hampton scrambled out of substantial danger and found Jack Reynolds for 43 yards to the West 12-yard line. Davie settled for three points as Skyler Schoppe hit a 21-yard field goal.
The first time Hampton handed the ball to freshman running back/receiver Tate Carney, he caught West blitzing two linebackers on the edges and rumbled 51 yards to the West 6. Josh Robinson took it in from there. Reynolds completed a two-point pass to Zach Smith to bump Davie’s lead to 11-0 with 3:50 left in the first quarter.
The Falcons drove from their own 14-yard line to the Davie 13, but Davie safety Isaiah Cuthrell turned back West by intercepting a fourth-and-3 pass in the end zone.
The Falcons desperately needed a spark, and they got it from Durham, who intercepted an over-the-middle pass at the Davie 27 and returned it 15 yards to the 12. From there, Jalen Perry scored around right end to get West on the board, 11-7.
After Davie went three-and-out, Houston’s monster night began to unfold. He caught a slant pass and scored a 24-yard TD to vault West ahead, 14-11.
After eight straight runs between Carney and Robinson moved the ball 56 yards to the West 14, Calub Pope came up with a big 11-yard sack, and then Schoppe’s 37-yard field goal fell well short.
Three plays later, Houston burned Davie on a deep post, an 80-yard TD that made it 20-11 after a missed PAT.
“Great game plan by my coaches and execution by my players,” Nixon said. “I’m just ecstatic.”
“We couldn’t contain (Houston),” Davie coach Tim Devericks said. “They had a good scheme. They isolated him and were able to get him the ball in space. (Stolsworth) completed the ones he needed to. He did a good job of managing the game.”
Davie answered with a forceful ground attack, Robinson getting the ball eight times during an 11-play, 69-yard drive. He scored from the 1 on fourth-and-goal, and Davie trailed, 20-18, at halftime.
Davie’s defense started well in the third, but a Stolsworth punt was muffed and Logan Younce recovered for West at the Davie 23. That was a huge swing because West made hay on a fourth-and-9 play from the Davie 12. Stolsworth connected with a slanting Quay Weeks for a TD. Matt Hill blocked the kick, keeping Davie within one possession at 26-18.
The next big play belonged to Davie. Stolsworth had to punt from his own end zone. Reynolds, atoning for the muffed punt earlier in the third, returned the punt 33 yards to the end zone. Davie tried to tie it up with a two-point play, but a slant to Reynolds was knocked away.
“We spent a lot of time on special teams this week because we didn’t do a good job on special teams at Mooresville,” Devericks said. “And they executed it really well. Everyone formed a wall.”
Then Stolsworth and Houston resumed their magic. On third-and-19, they connected on a crossing route for 38 yards. Stolsworth tried a fade in the end zone to Ty’kese Warren on fourth-and-4 from the Davie 12, and the War Eagles were called for pass interference. West scored when Stolsworth pitched a reverse to Houston.
But Davie was still alive, down 32-24, when Hunter Meacham broke up a two-point pass to Cameron Graham.
Davie moved into West territory, but Levontae Jacobs sacked Hampton on third down. After the punt, the West air attack put a dagger into Davie. On third-and-3, Houston got open down the right sideline, resulting in a 31-yard TD that made it 38-24 with 4:24 remaining.
Hampton scored on a 5-yard scramble with 47 seconds left, but West recovered the onside kick and celebrated an impressive win.
“We knew it would be tough to run it against their big guys up front, so our game plan was to throw it,” Nixon said. “I’m an old-school guy — I want to run it — but sometimes you’ve got to let those other guys coach and let our guys make plays.”