Saturday, March 13, 2021

Second Half Surge Lifts Davidson Football over Stetson

DELAND, FL. – Davidson rattled off 20 consecutive second-half points and held off a late Stetson rally to pick up a Pioneer Football League opening win Saturday at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium, 26-20.

With the win, Davidson improves to 1-1 and opens the conference slate at 1-0, while with the loss Stetson begins the season 0-1.

“There’s too really tough things in sports and in football, one is winning on the road, and two is winning your first game of the year … especially after a heartbreaking loss at Elon. Really proud of this win. Really proud of our guys,” said head coach Scott Abell after the victory formation sealed it.  

Trailing 7-6 at the break, the Wildcats got in their groove in the third, scoring touchdowns on three consecutive drives to open the half. 

The ‘Cats first found the end zone when senior quarterback Tyler Phelps hit junior wide receiver Jalen Staples with a fade to the back corner of the end zone just 1:34 into the third. After a defensive stop on Stetson’s ensuing possession, the ‘Cats leaned on Phelps legs for four carries with the final taking him across the goal line, extending the lead, 20-7.

With the game seemingly in hand, Davidson’s defense stepped up big. Freshman Jonathan Hammond sacked Hatter quarterback Alex Piccirilli on fourth down to give the ball back to the offense. Hammond has been a force as a freshman for the ‘Cats, making his first career interception earlier in the game and previously forcing a fumble at Elon back in February.

Back on offense, Davidson needed just two plays to add six to the scoreboard. Junior running back Coy Williams darted off on a 43-yard scamper and classmate Eli Turner Jr. turned on the jets to finish off the final 25 yards with a catch and scamper to put his squad up, 26-7.

Stetson did make things interesting late, scoring touchdowns on back-to-back fourth-quarter possessions, helped along by an onside kick recovery, but the Davidson damage was too great to overcome.

The first half was full of special team highlights. Stetson marched down the field on their opening drive and was in position for a chip shot field goal, but senior Jaylon Bolden had other plans, blocking the kick to keep the Hatters from getting on the board early.

Wildcat sophomore kicker Caden Bonoffski showed off his leg, connecting on a 48-yard field goal try, one yard shy of his career-long. The local product added a 26-yard kick to keep the ‘Cats momentum rolling in the second quarter.

Davidson finished with 297 yards rushing out of 389 yards of total offense. Phelps led the ground game with 120 yards, while Williams chipped in 83. Phelps completed 7-of-10 passes for 92 yards, connecting with Staples four times for 55 yards and the score.

Defensively, junior’s Jalen Jefferson and Jake Alexander led the way with 10 tackles apiece. Alexander forced a fumble in the second quarter, recovered by classmate Cade Vela. 

Davidson makes their home debut Saturday, Mar. 20 against Presbyterian in PFL action at Richardson Stadium. Kick off from Stephen B. Smith Field is slated for 1 p.m.