For the past few weeks, the Davis High football players and coaches have been talking about eliminating the mistakes and mental errors.
The Blue Devils managed to overcome the miscues to beat Woodland on Sept. 27, then nearly stole a win from Monterey Trail (Oct. 11) despite leaving coach Marc Hicks “speechless” with their mistake-filled performance.
On Friday, the chickens came home to roost for DHS as Franklin took advantage of every Devil error to post a 47-7 blowout win at Brown Stadium.
Whether it was a turnover, a sack allowed or a key penalty, drive after promising drive ended early for the locals.
“We had way too many penalties,” Hicks said after his team fell to 4-3 overall and 0-2 in Delta Valley Conference play. “We’d start driving the ball, doing really good and then a penalty. Then another penalty.
“You can’t operate like that. I wish I could just cement their feet down and then have a button to push to release them and then they won’t jump offsides.”
If it wasn’t one of Davis’ six penalties for 40 yards stalling drives, it was a sack — of which the Wildcats (4-3, 1-1) recorded six on the night. The Blue Devils also turned the ball over five times and trailed 33-7 at halftime.
DHS’ defense — which was led all game long by Brendan MacDonald’s all-over-the-field brilliance — stood up to the speedy play-makers of FHS after halftime, holding the ‘Cats scoreless through the third period. But still, the local offense (which gained just 126 total yards) couldn’t get anything going.
“We came out mentally prepared after the half, we wanted to step up and make the comeback but it just didn’t happen,” said Devil senior lineman Bailey Murray. “The effort was there but there were missed assignments that we need to fix.”
It was one of those missed assignments that got Franklin going early on. The Wildcats started on their own 7-yard line after dropping the ball on the opening kickoff return, but two plays later a hand-off to Robert Sanders turned disastrous for the Blue Devils.
Sanders broke through a hole in the left side of the line and was hardly touched on his way to an 84-yard touchdown.
Davis’ first drive, meanwhile, was an unfortunate foreshadow for what was to come. Quarterback Quinten Jones was sacked for a 9-yard loss on first down, before running back Winfred Roberson gained it all back on second down.
But on third down, Franklin’s Reid Abshear picked off Jones and set his team up on the Devil 21-yard line.
That led to the first of Wildcats QB Lamar Jackson’s three TD passes, this one a 15-yarder to Peyton Simmons to make it 13-0.
It was still 13-0 when DHS managed its only scoring drive of the game, a first-quarter march that showcased the locals’ slowly emerging passing game.
Starting with the ball on his own 49 with 3:41 to play in the opening period, Jones completed passes to Eli Castro and Andre Foster to pick up a first down. An 8-yard run by Roberson softened the defense before Jones found Foster down the sideline for 13 more.
“Andre Foster did a great job catching the ball, he’s finally getting healthy,” Hicks said. “(Friday) night was a great night for him, coming out and making catches (three for 27 yards), really getting his feet wet and contributing like we think he can.
“Eli Castro played out of his mind like always.”
For a moment, it looked like the Blue Devils would shoot themselves in the foot once again, taking consecutive penalties for 15 yards, but receiver Nate Curtis had other ideas.
When the junior single-caller went over the top of the defense, his classmate Curtis was there to make the catch and stumble into the end zone for a 38-yard score, his third in two games.
Ian McKallip’s extra point gave Davis life at 13-7.
The Devils even held Franklin on the next possession, but their next offensive drive featured a pair of sacks and a punt that led to a Wildcat touchdown.
Notes: Senior wide receiver Alex Totah, who enjoys the support of his DHS teammates each year at the Walk Now for Autism event, got into the game for a few plays in the fourth quarter. … With three TD catches in the past two games, Curtis has accounted for all of the Blue Devil scoring in DVC play. He now has 11 receptions for 244 yards on the season. … Roberson ran for 66 yards on 15 carries to bring his season total to 542, with five touchdowns. “Winfred ran hard but it’s hard when you are doing the Michael Jackson Moonwalk because of penalties,” Hicks said. … It was elementary school night at Brown Stadium and the Davis Junior Blue Devil youth football players and cheerleaders got a chance to show their stuff. The young cheerleaders got the crowd pumped with a routine between the first and second quarters, while the mini footballers ran plays on the field at halftime.