Saturday, October 12, 2019

Davidson Falls to San Diego in PFL Home Opener

DAVIDSON – Coming into Saturday’s game against San Diego, the Davidson Wildcats were third in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 332.8 yards a game and was 1-0 in the Pioneer League for the first time in nine years and looking to go 2-0 for the first time ever. San Diego, on the other hand, was riding a 30-game conference winning streak and had won or shared the last five Pioneer League titles. Something was going to have to give in this rematch of last year’s 56-52 barnburner. In the end, it was the San Diego Toreros who found their thirty-first consecutive conference win in a 37-17 win over Davidson at Richardson Stadium.

Davidson started the game looking to impose its will on the San Diego defense, using punishing runs to wear down the visiting Torero defense. The Wildcats made it all the way inside the ten-yard line, but a fumble on first and goal moved the ball back fifteen yards and the offense was forced to settle for a 43-yard Caden Bonoffski field goal to take an early 3-0 lead. San Diego offered almost a mirror drive to respond, making it to the red zone before eventually settling for a field goal of their own and knotting the score at 3.

Davidson Slot Receiver Eli Turner, Jr.
Photo Credit: Brian Barnes
Davidson’s next drive lasted into the beginning of the second quarter with junior Wesley Dugger putting the exclamation point on the twelve-play, seventy-five-yard drive with an eleven-yard scamper around the left side to give the home team a 10-3 lead. Dugger, coming into the game as one of only two juniors in the FCS Top 10 active career leaders in rushing yards, was held to twenty-six yards on the day.

Just like the first drives of the game, San Diego mirrored the Wildcats on their second drive as well, marching seventy-five yards down the field in seven plays and equalizing the score with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Reid Sinnett to Michael Carner.

For a team that focuses so much on the running game, it was a pass that helped move the Wildcats onto their next score. After Tyler Phelps found a streaking Jalen Staples, who raced down the five-yard line, Davidson was in business again and it was Dugger punching it in from one yard out to give the home team a 17-10 lead late in the half. As was the pattern for the rest of the first half, San Diego got a big pass to help them tie the game up with Michael Bandy weaving through a swath of Davidson defenders on his way to the end zone and setting up the halftime score of 17-17.

San Diego started the second half determined to set the tone for how the rest of the game was going to be played. Moving swiftly down the field, Reid Sinnett guided the Torero offense seventy-five yards in four minutes with Michael Bandy scoring his second touchdown of the day on a four-yard catch in the end zone. Looking to respond, Davidson went back to the ground game, making it all the way to the San Diego 15-yard line before turning it over on downs. Sensing a chance to seize permanent momentum, the visiting Toreros did just that as sophomore tight end Dalton Kincaid went seventy yards down the left sideline to open up a two-score lead for San Diego.

The fourth quarter played out much the way of the third quarter as Davidson drove deep into Torero territory, but was turned back in a turnover on downs. San Diego put the final exclamation point on the game with Reid Sinnett’s fifth touchdown pass of the day and the game final of 37-17.

“Our effort was great; we just have to play cleaner,” Davidson head coach Scott Abell stated after the game. “We had two big momentum shifts where we came up short. Ultimately, we’d like to have at least one of those go our way…hopefully, we’ll learn from this and be that type of team like San Diego is.”

Next Week
Both teams are in Pioneer League action next week as Davidson (4-2, 1-1) travels to Jacksonville while San Diego (3-2, 2-0) hosts Valparaiso.