South Iredell 31, Davie 28
Davie County had a disastrous start and paid the price in a thudding 31-28 nonconference loss at South Iredell Friday night.
The War Eagles made one mistake after another and fell to 3-2, the first time since 1982 they have seen a high-flying 3-0 start unravel to 3-2. It was a rather shocking development because the Vikings (2-3) were coming off 49-21 and 48-7 losses to Lake Norman and Alexander Central, respectively.
Davie couldn’t have started any worse. South’s Darius Smyre ran through arm tackles at the South 18 and took the opening kickoff 92 yards for a TD. South intercepted Nate Hampton on Davie’s first play from scrimmage, and when Cody Hazleton drilled the first of his three field goals, the Vikings had a 10-0 lead 2:39 into the game.
The game was less than nine minutes old when South made it 17-0. That score came on a trick play; South faked a 31-yard field goal, with the holder, Garrett Page, lobbing a 14-yard TD pass to Cullen Smith.
“The last two weeks we’ve had to battle uphill from the get-go,” coach Tim Devericks said. “And that’s difficult against the schedule we play.”
The War Eagles rallied to make things interesting, but they couldn’t overcome deficits of 17-0 and later 25-7 mostly because of 11 penalties for 111 yards. The loss overshadowed an incredible varsity debut for sophomore running back DeVonte Lyerly, who made the jump from JV because of injuries to Josh Robinson and Tate Carney, neither of whom played.
Lyerly carried 20 times for 217 yards, the most rushing yards by a War Eagle in 89 games (Cade Carney had 234 in his freshman debut in the 2012 opener). Lyerly was responsible for 101 of Davie’s 124 first-half yards, and he did that damage in basically a quarter, getting his first carry on the final play of the first period.
In that series, he picked up 59 yards on seven straight runs, but Davie – summing up the whole night – self-destructed from the South 19 and ended up punting with the score 17-0.
Ivan Poag gave Davie a much-needed spark, poking the ball out of quarterback Bryce Kringer’s hands. Darius Leonard scooped the fumble inside the South 5 and walked in as Davie cut the deficit to 17-7.
Coach Scott Miller slowed the game down, had his offense huddle for the first time in his 10 years at the helm, and his offense executed perfectly all night. A prime example came after the big play by Poag/Leonard. South went 78 yards in 14 plays, chewing 6:10 off the clock and scoring on Smyre’s 11-yard reception and Smith’s two-point run to make it 25-7.
Even though only 2:10 remained in the half, Davie rolled 61 yards in 1:23. After Lyerly picked up chunks of yards, a fake handoff to him fooled the defense and Hampton eased six yards to paydirt. It was 25-14 at intermission.
The frustration for the War Eagles only mounted in the second half. On their first series of the third quarter, they gained 52 yards in eight play to reach the South 28 – only to commit two critical penalties and punt.
After Davie’s defense got a turnover on downs at the Davie 34, Lyerly burst 49 yards. He had one man to beat before going down at the South 10. Hampton took care of the rest, scoring on a quarterback keeper as Davie closed within 25-20 with 2:50 left in the third.
“I was proud of our grit,” Devericks said. “We battled the whole game.”
It was stunning how many times Davie was undermined by mistakes. Down by five, South had second-and-11 from its 35. It was going to be third-and-long when a bad snap sent Kringer scrambling to recover the fumble well behind the line. But a War Eagle was flagged for unnecessary roughness by hitting a defenseless Kringer, and then a 15-yard unsportsmanlike flag was thrown. The 30 penalty yards pushed South to the Davie 41. South would move 74 yards, eat up six-plus minutes and get a 25-yard field goal from the Hazleton.
Down eight, the War Eagles still had hope. They seemed prime for a scoring drive when they moved the ball 60 yards in five plays. The promising drive, though, was doomed by a fumble.
South drove from its 29 to the Davie 20. Then came the backbreaker, a 37-yard field goal by the reliable Hazleton. It was a two-possession game at 31-20 with only 3:16 to go.
Davie didn’t quit. Hampton, who had only passed for 48 yards to this point, found his rhythm during a 72-yard hurry-up drive, going 7 of 8 for 84 yards as Davie cut it to 31-28.
But only 1:04 remained, and South recovered the onside kick. It’s too bad Lyerly’s absurd output went in vain.
“For my first game on varsity, I think I did pretty good,” he said. “I felt a lot more comfortable than I thought I would. Hey, I’m going to keep working every day.”
“Excellent,” Devericks said of Lyerly. “And the offensive line did a fantastic job. They lightened the load on him. There was a lot of good running lanes, and DeVonte can make it happen.”