SACRAMENTO — The up-and-down football season continued Friday for Davis High, when Grant pasted its guests, 48-14, at Rutherford Stadium.
While the Delta Valley Conference loss was a major setback for the Blue Devils in the quest for their first playoff berth since 2007, all is not lost.
“We still have a lot to play for,” a disappointed DHS coach Steve Smyte said after watching the Pacers take advantage of a lackluster first half by the Devils. “If we beat Elk Grove, we’ve got a shot to be in the playoffs.
“That’s motivation right there.”
Davis (5-4, 2-2 in DVC) will host the region’s No. 3-ranked team on Friday in the regular-season finale. Beating the Thundering Herd (8-1, 3-1) could earn the Devils an 11th game — but more about that later.
On Senior Night at Grant, the locals were victimized by a lucky play, then were flat in their early performance to be fall behind 28-0 at halftime.
On the Pacers’ first series, the Blue Devils had put Grant in a third-down hole near its own 30. Quarterback Isaiah Rios was under pressure and scrambling when his pass over the middle was almost intercepted by Adam King. But the ball tipped off the DHS safety — right into the arms of Treyvon Henderson, who then went 54 yards for a score less than a minute into the contest.
The Pacers, who have suffered through tragedy (a coach’s suicide and a former player’s death), turnovers and penalties in fashioning a very un-Grant-like 5-4 mark this fall, were buoyed by their good fortune.
For the rest of the half, the hosts looked like their former selves.
Marquise Carter-Petit — who would rush for 149 yards and three touchdowns — scored on 53- and 21-yard first-half runs, and two Davis turnovers didn’t help the cause.
It wasn’t until 9:42 of the second period that the Devils managed a play longer than 3 yards (Winfred Roberson’s 11-yard carry). It was two plays later that QB Grant Dickerson finally completed his first pass (18 yards to C.K. Hicks).
“First of all, we couldn’t control the line of scrimmage … they killed us on the line,” Smyte said, assessing the early mismatch. “Hey, my hat’s off to Grant. They’re a good football team. They’ve had a couple of close games and what’s killed them is turnovers and penalties.
“In this game, they didn’t do either.”
After the pre-Halloween horror show that was the first 24 minutes, DHS settled in and had some success through the air.
Capping a 51-yard drive to open the third quarter, Dickerson found Brett Bloomfield for a 10-yard touchdown. The score ended a streak of 142 unanswered points by Grant against the Blue Devils during the past three contests.
But the Pacers came right back with a 10-play, 65-yard march of their own — ending with Carter-Petit’s final score from 6 yards out.
Now trailing 35-7, DHS showed the firepower that has allowed it to average 33 ppg until Friday …
On second down from deep in their own territory, Devils Dickerson and H-back Kevin Sorensen teamed on a 76-yard touchdown. Sorensen, a basketball and track standout, used a little of that sprinter’s speed to outrun Henderson and Darius Woods to the end zone.
On each Davis TD, kicker Thomas May converted.
The Pacers had two more touchdowns left in them before a mutually agreed upon running clock late in the game put a quick finish to the final six minutes.
“After the first possessions,” Smyte said, “we ended up being spectators a little bit. You can’t arm-tackle these guys. Their running back was good, they got after us up front and I felt we were just a little outmatched out there.”
Dickerson, who missed on his first seven throws, finished with 197 yards and the two scores. He was picked off twice. On the season, the senior has 1,582 passing yards and 16 TDs. The school record is 18 touchdown tosses.
Sorensen has 615 receiving yards to go with his seven touchdowns. Hicks, who caught three more balls for 36 yards, leads the Blue Devils with 31 receptions.
However, DHS didn’t help itself in its aerial game — dropping six passes. Before a much-improved second half, Dickerson appeared high or long on many of his first-half throws.
“Reality is, it is not one group that caused us to lose this game,” Smyte said. “It was a team effort. We just didn’t show up on defense.
“We know how we played (Friday) — I want that ‘we’ in there. Coaches lose, too. This is on me as much as the players. We have to go back and look at what we’re doing and make adjustments.”
Notes: About potential playoffs; had Davis topped Grant, it would have assured itself of a postseason berth. But now — with the Pacers probably beating Laguna Creek next week — even if DHS stops Elk Grove, that would put three schools at 3-2 in league, with Franklin in first place (assumedly unbeaten). The Herd will head to the D-II playoffs. According to Sac-Joaquin Section officials, all D-I leagues qualify two teams. In the case of a three-way tie, Davis (hypothetically at 6-4, 3-2) must have more overall wins than teams vying with them for at-large bids. Tie-breakers for at-large, according to CIF rules, come down to head-to-head meetings, records of opponents, records of defeated opponents and, finally, Calpreps rankings. It’s a dizzying cacophony of guidelines. The bottom line? None of it means anything to the Devils if they lose Friday. … After each of DHS’ first three losses this season, it has come back to win the next game. … On Friday (during both JV and varsity games) the Devils will be accepting baby-goods donations on behalf of the St. John’s Shelter Program for Women and Children. Items needed are diapers and pull-ups (sizes 1-6), baby wipes and baby formula. The shelter is Sacramento’s only center dedicated to supporting homeless women and their kids.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.