Davidson Academy took care of business against visiting Donelson Christian 41-20 last Friday night to advance to a regular-season rematch in a state semifinal.
Davidson Academy came into the game as the favorites after rattling off eight consecutive wins to finish the season with an 8-2 record. It was the Bears’ first postseason game after they received a first-round bye.
Last Friday night’s game mirrored Davidson Academy’s season. The Bears finished strong after a slow start.
On the opening drive, the Wildcats faced a fourth down on the Bears’ 28-yard line. Senior quarterback Parker Kelley threw to senior receiver Parker Howell who took it into the end zone to take a 7-0 lead.
The Bears failed to get much of anything going in the first quarter and were forced to punt on their first three drives. Davidson Academy head coach Jonathan Quinn knew his team needed to settle down.
“After the first quarter, I brought them all up,” Quinn said. “I just said, ‘Hey guys, let’s calm down, take a deep breath. It’s a four-quarter game. Let’s just get back to playing our type of ball.’
“I think for us, it’s just keeping the composure early in the game and not trying to go in with too much adrenaline, too much hype and playing out of control.”
Early in the second, Davidson Academy junior Griffin Swinea grabbed an interception, and the momentum turned in the Bears’ favor.
Davidson Academy scored two touchdowns off of a pair of senior quarterback Bryce Rawls’ passes to take a 14-7 lead into halftime.
The Bears came out of the break and buried the Wildcats in the third, scoring three more unanswered touchdowns. Swinea scored the last on the defensive side of the ball after he returned his second interception of the game to the end zone.
Donelson Christian was able to cut the deficit to 14 following an 86-yard touchdown run via a fake punt from Howell.
But the Bears ran the ball and the clock on their next possession to score again with just more than two minutes remaining.
Donelson Christian head coach Paul Wade knew Davidson Academy would be hard to deal with but was pleased with his guys’ efforts.
“They fought really hard,” Wade said. “We knew the challenge was great. Davidson’s got a really good team. They’ve got a really big team. We knew, with their size, they were going to try to overpower us. I thought our kids responded well.”
The loss eliminates the Wildcats from the playoffs, but the turnaround from last year to this year was something admire.
“We were 0-10 last year,” Wade said. “So to be 8-4 this year and make it to the second round…We’ve achieved a lot.
“The seniors have had great leadership. Our kids have played incredible every week. It’s just a great life lesson and a great learning lesson about being tough and about loving each other.”
Davidson Academy will travel to Friendship Christian on Friday night in a semifinal rematch for a chance at the Division II Class A state championship.
The two teams have already faced off this season, which resulted in a 30-23 Bears’ victory.
“I’m sure they’re chomping at the bit to get us,” Quinn said. “My guess is that we’re the team they wanted to play to try to get revenge on that game earlier.
“They’re one heck of a team. They’re well coached. They’re a big, physical team just like we are. It ought to be a heck of a matchup.”