WHITWELL, Tenn.–Against a nearly 40 point spread, Whitwell was probably the last team picked to lead a Division II team at the half.
Yet, when they jogged into the locker room at Vernon Holtcamp, the scoreboard proved otherwise as the Tigers held a narrow three-point lead. Defense shined, along with miscues from the Bears’ offense. And all of the put together equals a stat line that’s sure to ruffle your feathers.
“Defensively, I was pleased in the first,” Tiger head coach Tracey Malone said. “I thought we held them in check. We even wore them out there at the end of the second quarter. Then, they got that second win and started pounding us.”
The Bears feature a college prospect Offensive Tackle in Obinnon Eze, who is listed at 6’7″ and commited to the University of Memphis.
“They didn’t really go behind the tackle in the first half much,” Malone said. “Then in the second half, they kept running behind him. We just didn’t have an answer. We’d try to overload, and they’d throw it the other way. They just won the chess match tonight.”
Whitwell started out with a bang as Dylan Burns returned the opening kickoff 78 yards to put the Tigers up by seven. As time expired in the first, Davidson Academy got in on the scoring action with a Stone Norton pass to senior Eli Breece. That would knot the score up at seven apiece going into the second quarter.
The period very quiet offensively and defensively, so if there was to be a score, it would have to come from special teams.
Cue junior kicker Austin Nunley. With 6:22 left in the half, he made a 43-yard attempt with ease to put the Tigers ahead again. That three-point boost would last until the half when Davidson Academy would have a revival of sorts in the locker room.
And just like that, the Bears scored around the 8-minute mark of the 3rd quarter with a quick 1-yard run by Da’joun Hewitt and an extra point to take a 14-10 lead. The Tigers wouldn’t get any closer through the second half as the Bears scored less than a minute later on a another Hewitt rush, this time eight yards out.
The Tigers would have a few chances, but Davidson Academy would seal it with an early 4th quarter passing touchdown from Norton to Jackson Vetetoe, a senior wide receiver. And though the Tigers would have a few more tries, that would be all she wrote on a would-be upset.
“I think a lot of things went our way in the first half,” Malone said. “They had a lot of penalties and I think we capitalized. The opening kickoff was huge. I thought the first half was pretty much ours, and the second half, we absolutely got outcoached.”
And though Division II school coaches should be better in theory, that was far from the reason the Tigers were outcoached.
“On the opening drive of the second half, they came out and made some adjustments,” Malone said. “They picked us apart, went down in about nine plays, and scored. I told our kids we are poorly coached right now. That’s not their fault. That’s my fault. It’s my job to get it fixed, and we’re going to get it fixed.”
The Tigers host Sequatchie Valley foe Bledsoe County who has yet to pcik up a win through two weeks of play while the Bears host Chattanooga Christian in a current vs future Division II bout.
And there, too, will be a point spread, but Davidson Academy will likely cover it next time around.
DA — 7 | 0 | 14 | 7 || 28
WHS — 7 | 3 | 0 | 6 || 10
1st (11:48) Dylan Burns, 78 YArd KO Return [Nunly Kick Good]–Whitwell 7, Davidson 0
1st (0:00) Stone Norton, 13 Yard Rush Eli Reece [Bess Kick Good]–Whitwell 7, Davidson 7
2nd (6:22) Austin Nunley, 43 Yard Field Goal Good–Whitwell 10, Davidson 7
3rd (8:01) Da’joun Hewitt, 1 Yard Rush [Bess Kick Good]—Davidson 14, Whitwell 10
3rd (7:40) Da’joun Hewitt, 8 Yard Rush [Bess Kick Good]—Davidson 21, Whitwell 10
4th (9:40) Stone Norton, 46 Yard PAss to Jackson Vetetoe [Bess Kick Good]—Davidson 28, Whitwell 10