Saturday, April 24, 2021

Davidson Falls in FCS Playoffs to No. 4 Jacksonville State, 49-14

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – For the first time in 52 years Davidson football ended in the postseason, falling to fourth-seeded and nationally ranked number eight Jacksonville State in the first round of the FCS Championship Playoffs Saturday at JSU Stadium, 49-14.

“Very proud of our guys for being here. We weren’t satisfied with that … Our expectations are to become a program that can each-and-every year compete at a level in the playoffs,” said head coach Scott Abell. “This year was a measuring stick for us. We certainly understood the challenge. 

The Wildcats were in it for much of the first half, dominating time of possession with nearly 22 minutes in control. 

After falling behind 7-0 early, Davidson did what they’ve been able to do all year and manipulated a clock-eating drive of nearly eight minutes, ending with junior Coy Williams's seventh scoring scamper of the year.

On the ensuing Gamecock possession, Wildcat senior corner Jaylon Bolden made a beautiful play down the Davidson sideline, intercepting JSU’s Zion Webb for his second pick of the season. But the ‘Cats were unable to capitalize on the scoreboard. 

Trailing 14-7 late in the second quarter, JSU scored twice in seven seconds, capitalizing on a Davidson special team’s miscue to gap the ‘Cats 28-7 at the break. 

Jacksonville State took the second-half kick and quickly broke it open, scoring in just 1:16, a 55-yard Webb to Pat Jackson hook up. The Gamecocks added another late in the third, and again early in the fourth to push their lead out to 49-7.

Despite the deficit and with time running out, Davidson played until the final whistle, utilizing every bit of their opportunity. Senior quarterback Tyler Phelps threw his seventh touchdown pass of the season with 2:49 left to junior tight end Jackson Sherrard, 49-14 Gamecocks.

“It means everything to the program. To be here and to play today, it was surreal. Definitely a good end to the career for sure,” said Phelps.

On the final JSU possession, Davidson went out swinging. Sophomore Brian Jacobs forced a fumble recovered by senior James Boyle, giving their offense one last shot at the end zone. Jacobs led the team with six tackles, four solos. 

“We knew we’d be here. It was just a matter of time. It was a process,” said junior linebacker Jalen Jefferson, who finished with four tackles.

The Wildcats were the first team to break 100 yards rushing against Jacksonville State in 10 tries, churning out 202 yards on the ground. Williams’ led the way with 62 yards on 16 carries, while Dylan Sparks gained 55 on 19 carries. Phelps completed 7 of 15 passes for 59 yards, connecting with junior Jalen Staples four times. Davidson finished with 41:59 of possession, but it was JSU’s big plays that proved the difference, using a balanced rushing (222 yards) and passing (239) attack.

“Overall, so proud of our guys. We’re really excited about our future … every rep was a rep for our future. The momentum that we finished with will carry us into the offseason,” said Abell.

Story courtesy of Davidson Athletics Communications