Carson falls to Davie despite big offensive game
By Brian Pitts
For the Salisbury Post
MOCKSVILLE — Davie County didn’t just get a push from visiting Carson Wednesday night at War Eagle Stadium. It got a 48-minute fight.
In the end, though, Davie threw the final haymaker and prevailed, 40-33, in a non-conference game that was moved up two days because of the approaching Hurricane Florence.
The War Eagles stopped a two-game slide to improve to 2-3. The Cougars fell to 2-3 with their third loss in a row.
In the first half, it looked like Davie might win comfortably. The War Eagles went 92 yards on the game’s first possession. Although Carson answered with an 80-yard drive that was capped by Justin Smith’s 43-yard touchdown pass to AJ Jackson, Davie sandwiched three TD drives around a 27-yard field goal from Carson’s Eric Turnbull and led 27-10 at intermission.
But the Cougars turned the game at the beginning of the third period. An 11-play, 82-yard drive featured 10 running plays. Back Michael Gonsalves scored from the Davie 4-yard line and then added a two-point conversion to cut Carson’s deficit to 27-18.
Then the Cougars forced a three-and-out, thanks in part to Jadon Vernon’s 13-yard sack. After a 23-yard punt, Carson was in business at the Davie 32.
But one of the few mistakes the Carson offense made all night came next. A handoff exchange was botched, Davie’s Matt Hill recovered the fumble and an opportunity was wasted. Two plays later, Davie was in the end zone, with Josh Robinson doing the honors on a 41-yard run. Davie missed the extra point but it had a 33-18 cushion.
The turnover and shift in momentum left Carson coach Joe Pinyan asking … what if?
“The offense wants me to say it’s the defense’s fault because we let them score (six TDs), but we did lay it down in the third quarter,” Pinyan said. “If you’re going to win against a good team, you’ve got to take care of the football. I wished we had not fumbled that ball. That might have been the difference.”
But the Cougars refused to roll over. They marched 93 yards with 12 running plays and one pass. Gonsalves covered the last 20 yards on three bullish carries, and he also converted his second two-point run to pull Carson within 33-26 with 11:23 remaining.
“Offensively, we can take a lot of good things from this,” Pinyan said.
Davie’s offense rose to the occasion. After Ben Crenshaw returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield, QB Nate Hampton converted a third-and-7 with a 13-yard pass to Adrian Cranfill, Tate Carney ran for 13 and 10 yards, and finally, Robinson scored his fourth TD from 6 yards out, making it 40-26.
“We’ve got to take care of some things defensively, but part of that is that running back (Robinson) is pretty special and the quarterback made some good throws,” Pinyan said. “(Hampton’s) got a good group of receivers. He doesn’t have Cooper Wall, but he’s got receivers who can make plays.”
Carson’s flexbone responded tremendously yet again, this time marching 90 yards in 16 plays. Smith’s 11-yard completion to Jackson moved the chains on fourth-and-7, and Smith’s 17-yard run set up his own TD from the 1-yard line to draw the Cougars to within 40-33.
The downside: The drive chewed up nearly six minutes and Carson needed to recover the onside kick. It didn’t happen and Hampton’s 25-yard pass to Little on third-and-10 proved to be the dagger.
Pinyan will gladly take what he got from his offense for the rest of the season. It rushed for 297 yards, converted 10 of 15 third downs and controlled time of possession (79 plays to Davie’s 57). Smith (141 passing yards), CP Pyle (18 carries for 109 yards), Gonsalves (11 carries for 54 yards), Hunter Courtney (107 rushing/receiving yards) and Jackson (five catches for 90 yards) battled admirably.
“Offensively, we got a good mixture of throwing it, running it and we mashed it up in there against a big defensive front,” Pinyan said. “I was happy with the way our kids responded. Defensively, we didn’t play very well.”
The War Eagles survived multiple punches to the gut by winning the turnover battle 3-0 and balancing the run (221 yards) and pass (263 yards).
Hampton, who threw for a Davie-sophomore record of 274 yards at Mooresville on Aug. 31, posted the No. 2 mark with 263 in this one, completing 15 of 25. Robinson did stellar work with 18 carries for 176 yards. Carney was effective with 61 yards on 12 attempts. Crenshaw was heavily involved with six catches for 64 yards and Little delivered a Davie season-high in receiving yards, turning three grabs into 126 yards.
Carson travels to Central Cabarrus next Friday (Sept. 21) while Davie travel to A.L. Brown in Kannapolis.
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