Saturday, September 25, 2021

Davidson Holds Off San Diego in Pioneer League Opener

DAVIDSON – It was the opener of the 2021 Pioneer Football League slate for the Davidson. Opposing the Wildcats were the Toreros of San Diego, a traditional league power who desperately wanted to avenge the pandemic-forced spring 2021 season which saw Davidson knock off the four-time defending Pioneer League champs to claim the conference championship for the first time ever. It was Davidson who would take the day, as the Wildcats held off a late rally to defeat the Toreros 28-16 at Richardson Stadium.

Davidson had what seemed to be a great start to the game, forcing a three-and-out and taking over after a punt. The momentum was short-lived, however, and a bad pitch on the Wildcats' second play from scrimmage saw the ball hit the turf, recovered by the San Diego defense. Two plays later, Emilio Martinez ran in from thirteen yards out to give the visitors an early 7-0 lead.

The Wildcats went into full ball control mode later in the quarter, though, marching eighty-three yards on sixteen plays on a drive that ended the first quarter and began the second. By the time junior Dylan Sparks scored on a one-yard run, Davidson had chewed off nearly nine minutes of clock and kept a potent Torero offense on the sidelines.

It was the San Diego special teams that made the biggest play in the second quarter, though. After coming up short on a run, the Toreros chose to punt from midfield. The punt rolled down towards the goal line and was batted out of bounds inside the one-yard line. The San Diego defense stepped up on the next play, tackling the Davidson ball carrier in the end zone for a safety and 9-7 lead. After the ensuing free kick, the Toreros sought to extend their lead with a field goal, but the kick bounced off the right upright.

Davidson started the second half with eight straight rushing plays before Louis Calosimo was able to find Eli Turner, Jr. lurking behind the defense, and the two connected on a thirty-one-yard pass to get the Wildcats inside the five-yard line. Two plays later, Mark McCurdy went around the left side for the Davidson touchdown and the Wildcats had the lead for the first time on the afternoon. Davidson had a chance to extend the lead later in the quarter, but a bad snap on a field goal attempt gave the ball back to the Toreros and saw the score stay at 14-9 going into the final quarter.

Davidson went into its bag of tricks on its next possession and pulled out the halfback pass which Eli Turner, Jr. executed perfectly, tossing a thirty-four-yard throw to Jalen Staples who went down at the five-yard line. Turner finished off the drive two plays later on a toss sweep around the right side of the line, extending the Wildcats lead to twelve points.

San Diego refused to give up and came within five points after an eleven-yard touchdown pass from Mason Randall to Michael Carner. The Toreros had another chance late in the quarter but was stopped on fourth down by the tenacious Davidson defense. Looking to put the game on ice, Louis Colosimo found Eli Turner, Jr. on a twenty-five-yard slant route for a touchdown to cap the scoring, and Jordan Burrell picked off a late pass to seal the deal for Davidson.

Up Next

Both teams are staying in Pioneer League play as Davidson (2-1, 1-0) travels to Florida to take on the Hatters of Stetson University while San Diego (0-4, 0-1) hosts league newcomer St. Thomas.