COOKEVILLE—In a rainy opening night affair at Tennessee Tech University’s Tucker Stadium, Donelson Christian Academy (1-0) started off the season on the right foot with a 27-13 win over the Silverdale Baptist Seahawks.

The 2020 season opener was a unique one for Donelson Christian head coach Paul Wade as his team was forced to play the home opener on the campus of Tennessee Tech instead of its home field due to the damage caused by an EF-3 tornado that hit Middle Tennessee in March. Wade said the unique opportunity was exciting for his players.

“It’s exciting. It’s the site of the TSSAA state championship, so everyone wants to get back to this place at the end of the year, so why not start at the beginning of the year and get a taste of it?”

Silverdale took the opening kickoff, and on its second play from scrimmage, running back Connor Delashmitt fumbled the football, and DCA’s Jordan Lewis recovered the ball deep in Silverdale territory. The Wildcats turned the ball over on downs, and the Seahawks made DCA pay on the next play when quarterback Taylor Junkins connected with Noah Bowen on a 73-yard bomb to give Silverdale a 6-0 lead after the point-after try was blocked. 

“It was just a busted coverage,” Wade said. “It wasn’t like we got horrifically beat on a route. We just got busted coverage. … They did a good job in the secondary the rest of the night.”

Donelson Christian settled in offensively and marched down the field on the next possession as Jon Lewis scored on an 8-yard touchdown run. A Braden Ducharme PAT was good, and the Wildcats took a 7-6 lead early in the first quarter.

Jon Lewis continued his stellar night on the ground in the second as his 1-yard touchdown run gave the Wildcats a 14-6 lead despite two consecutive penalties earlier in the drive that moved the ball from the Seahawks’ one to the Seahawks’ 20. 

The Wildcats’ defense held the Seahawks’ offense in check the rest of the half after the busted coverage earlier in the first, and the offense took full advantage to extend the DCA lead before halftime. With 44 seconds left in the half, DCA quarterback Bradford Gaines found receiver Nathan Magalei in the end zone from 7 yards out to give the Wildcats a 21-6 edge at the half.

Wade was complimentary of his quarterback, who made his first career start Friday night. 

“We weren’t sure how he was going to handle things. We weren’t sure how he would handle pressure,” Wade said after the game. “But he held things together. He made a few mistakes, but on your first start in a high school game, you’re going to make mistakes.”

Sloppy penalties by both teams marred the game in the second half. DCA finished with 13 penalties, most of which were offsides and delay-of-game penalties, and Silverdale finished the night with eight flags of its own. Wade attributed most of the penalties to the unique off-season that saw all teams forego scrimmages or practice games with other schools, as well as hold practice without officials, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It was totally miserable,” Wade said. “In 29 years of coaching, I’ve never experienced anything like this. Those are things that you cannot practice. … When you haven’t had a kid line up next to an official in a game or scrimmage, it’s all new, and you have to do it in 25 seconds. That puts a lot of pressure on the kid.”

DCA put the game away in the fourth when freshman running back Ashton Jones scored his first career touchdown from 1 yard out to stretch the lead to 27-6. Silverdale put up one last score late in the game after Delashmitt hit on his longest run of the night with a 42-yard touchdown on fourth and 37 to cut the Seahawks’ deficit, where it would stay until the final horn.

DCA was led by its rushing attack, led by senior running back Jon Lewis, who finished the night with 130 yards on 23 carries to go along with a pair of touchdowns. DCA as a team rushed for 273 yards on 36 touches.

“The rushing game and offensive line, the position I coach, I take a lot of pride in those guys. You should think with our size that we ought to be able to move people around, and I think we did that tonight,” said Wade.

The Wildcats will hit the road next week to take on Webb School in Bell Buckle.

BOX SCORE

Donelson Christian 27, Silverdale Baptist 13

TEAM STATISTICS

Rushing: DCA (36 rushes, 273 yards), Silverdale (29 rushes, 105 yards)

Passing: DCA (5-9, 48 yards), Silverdale (2-17, 104)

Total yards: DCA (321), Silverdale (209 yards)

Penalties: DCA (13), Silverdale (9)

Turnovers: DCA (1), Silverdale (4)

Sacks: DCA (3), Silverdale (1)

Interceptions: DCA (1), Silverdale (0)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS:

Passing: DCA – Bradford Gaines (5-of-9, 48 yards, 1 TD). Silverdale – Taylor Junkins (2-of-17, 104 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT).

Rushing: DCA – Jon Lewis (23 rushes, 130 yards, 2 TDs), Ashton Jones (8 rushes, 44 yards, 1 TD), Jordan Lewis (5 rushes 43 yards), Bradford Gaines (4 rushes, 19 yards), Brady Russell (1 rush, 1 yard). Silverdale- Connor Delashmitt (20 rushes, 115 yards, 1 TD), Sebastian Hanks (1 rush, 2 yards), Taylor Junkins (8 rushes, -12 yards).

Receiving: DCA – Nathan Magalei (3 catches, 32 yards, 1 TD), Dayton Sneed (1 catch, 13 yards). Silverdale – Noah Bowen (1 catch, 73 yards, 1 TD), Cameron Bowen (1 catch, 31 yards).

Interceptions: DCA – Brady Russell (1).

Fumble Recoveries: DCA – Jordan Lewis (1).

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