Wildcat Football Unable to Match San Diego Scoring in Second Half
DAVIDSON, N.C. — If his team is going to compete for Pioneer Football League championships, Davidson head coach Scott Abell believes football games like Saturday’s against San Diego will be the norm, not the exception.
And that’s exciting for the second-year Wildcats coach.
“For the first time in a long time, they know we’re in the hunt,” he said of his players.
That’s why after Saturday’s 37-17 loss to the five-time PFL champions, Abell was already looking forward to the Wildcats’ next opportunity.
“We played a really good football team that really respected us and brought their ‘A’ game,” said Abell. “We matched it for a good part of the game. Now, we’ve got to match it for four quarters.”
The Wildcats (4-2, 1-1 PFL) and Toreros (3-2, 2-0) played to a 17-17 tie at the intermission, as each team scored on all three of its first-half possessions. But San Diego pulled away in the second 30 minutes in a battle of contrasting offensive styles, as the run-oriented Wildcats met a team that scored all of its touchdowns via Reid Sinnett passes.
“We had to make the most out of every possession, and we just didn’t do it in the second half,” said Abell. “We drove the field, but we didn’t capitalize and didn’t finish.”
The Wildcats received the opening kick, and after Aris Hilliard’s 37-yard return, gained 34 yards and took an early 3-0 on Caden Bonoffski’s 43-yard field goal.
Wesley Dugger’s 11-yard touchdown run at the 11:30 mark of the second quarter capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive and gave the Wildcats a 10-3 lead. The next Davidson drive covered 75 yards in nine plays and ended with a 1-yard Dugger score to make it 17-10 Wildcats with 3:09 to play in the first half.
Eli Turner led the rushing attack with 66 yards on 11 carries. Tyler Phelps finished 13-of-19 passing for 170 yards, with Jalen Staples’ four receptions and 76 yards leading the receiving corps.
Linebacker George Hatalowich led the Davidson defense with nine tackles.
The Wildcats return to the road next Saturday when they visit Jacksonville at 1 p.m. It’ll be another defining moment.
“There’s so much football to be played,” said Abell. “There’s a lot left to define this season for us.”