Last week, the Davis High football team used a huge scoring outburst near the end of the second quarter to take control of the game.
This week, the Blue Devils got a taste of their own medicine from the formidable Grant Pacers in a 38-0 loss on Friday at Ron & Mary Brown Stadium.
The Pacers scored three touchdowns in the second quarter, two of them in the final 1:30 of the first half, and used a stellar defensive performance to put a chokehold on DHS for the remainder of the Delta Valley Conference game.
Fast forward to the second quarter after a scoreless first.
Grant (6-3, 3-1) drove down to the Davis 41, but the Devil defense was able to force the Pacers into a fourth-and-5 situation.
The locals’ struggle with penalties came out of remission as DHS (5-4, 1-3) jumped offside, giving Grant a fresh set of downs.
“Mistakes will kill you. That’s really about it,” said Blue Devil head coach Marc Hicks. “You cannot, we cannot. … win with mistakes. I thought we played them pretty tough. But when you have six, seven offensive penalties … I’m sorry. You can’t win like that.”
Four plays and 29 yards later, standout running back Deandre Whittington-Grays plowed his way into the end zone from 1-yard out, putting the Pacers up 7-0.
On Davis’ ensuing drive, another fourth-down situation — a fourth-and-1 on the Grant 27 — was botched because of a Devil penalty. The false-start led to a turnover on downs and was one of the the locals’ 10 penalties for 120 yards.
“For offense, when they jump offside, the worst part about it is that they know the count. Then why are we jumping?” Hicks said.
Although DHS wasted that opportunity, with 1:26 left in the first half it looked like the Blue Devils were going to go into intermission down by just a touchdown.
But good teams can turn things around in a flash; and Grant proved just that in the final minute and a half.
Following the turnover on downs, Whittington-Grays powered his way for a 15-yard gain. Then, quarterback Donovan Brown found wideout Ariyon Huff on a seam route, and Huff went the distance for a 55-yard score.
And, after Davis gave the ball right back with a fumble on the kickoff return, the Pacers weren’t done.
This time it was running back Zay Cato who ran for the TD, capping off Grant’s second quarter scoring spree and putting the Devils down 21-0 at the half.
“You know I thought we went out there and played as hard as we possibly could have played,” said DHS defensive coordinator Ty Brown. “It wasn’t for lack of effort. Again, we made a few too many mistakes on defense and they were able to break some long plays. But (Grant) is a top quality program, and to knock them off you’re going to have to fight ‘em. I though we went out there (Friday) and fought hard.”
When the Pacers came out for the second half, they showed no signs of slowing down. Whittington-Grays — who finished with 120 yards on the day — capped off a 69-yard drive by breaking five tackles on a 39-yard scoring jaunt, to make the score 28-0.
Then, after a field goal, Grant closed out the scoring with Malik Goss-Pruitt’s 7-yard TD.
The Blue Devils, however, still have one more chance to get a sixth win and become playoff eligible — Friday’s season finale at Elk Grove. To knock off one of the top five teams in the section, DHS must clean up the penalties.
And against Grant, Hicks thought that his team stayed competitive despite the mistakes. Running back Winfred Roberson ran for 63 yards to go over 700 for the season (749 with seven TDs) and Eli Castro, a standout on defense, continued his offensive contributions catching three passes from quarterback Emilio Barba for 20 yards.
“I don’t think we threw that game away,” Hicks said. “I think penalties will kill you, and again, I always bring up my Oakland Raiders. They’re a great team, but if you have penalties, it doesn’t work.”
Notes: Friday’s game was Senior Night for the Devils, who honoring the 18 seniors on the team. The DHS 12th-graders and their families walked through a tunnel made of the rest of the team and posed for a picture. Injured senior receiver C.K. Hicks even suited up in full pads for his last outing at Brown Stadium and second-to-last game playing for his dad.
— Reach Thomas Oide at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterThomas