DAVIS — If Davis was ever going to beat Millwood, it didn’t look like it through two quarters on Friday.
The Wolves were getting outmuscled and outrun by a Millwood team overflowing with talent. Leading 22-0 in the second quarter, it looked like the Falcons were going to extend their all-time record against the Wolves to 4-0.
Well, Davis had other plans.
The No. 2 Wolves stunned everyone, running off 42 unanswered points en route to a 42-28 victory in the Class 2A second round.
The win sends unbeaten Davis (12-0) to Adair (12-0) for the Class 2A quarterfinals. But as Davis coach Jody Weber rushed off the cold field after his team’s one-sided second half statement, he couldn’t help but file this win away as a special one.
“And what a way to do it,” Weber said of his first win over Millwood. “It shows me that these kids, who had not had much adversity, are pretty strong willed.
“I don’t think there were very many people in this stadium or listening on the radio that thought we could stay in this football game.”
Braden Ruth ran 12 times for 175 yards and two touchdowns, quarterback Alec Hetherington scored three rushing TDs and Davis’ defense forced Millwood’s Landon Potts into four interceptions on an otherwise brilliant night.
Peak conditioning on both sides of the ball were the driving forces for the Wolves in the second half. Ruth’s power running at fullback was impressive — particularly a 61-yard touchdown run that deflated the Millwood defense — but his work at middle linebacker against Millwood’s bulldozer of a back Larry Lambuth was equally as impressive.
Lambuth, a 5-foot-11, 235-pound junior, began the game doling out punishment to the Davis defensive interior. He ran for 65 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, including a 30-yard battering ram run on Millwood’s first drive.
His second 1-yard TD plunge put Millwood ahead 15-0 in the second quarter. On the Falcons’ next possession, Potts hit Cameron Batson with a 31-yard touchdown pass with 5:15 before halftime.
Millwood outgained Davis 227-102 in the first half, with Potts doing whatever he wanted in the screen game. Besides Hetherington’s 20-yard TD run late in the second quarter, the Wolves didn’t have much to brag about before halftime.
But that was before Davis’ defense began stuffing Lambuth in short-yardage situations. That was before Davis’ DBs started getting off blocks and sniffing out the bubble screen to Millwood’s illusive receivers.
And that was before Davis’ trademark running game kicked into full gear.
“You’re kinda disrupted from not doing so well, but you’ve just got to keep going,” said Hetherington, who finished with 61 yards on 13 carries. “It feels good to get back in that groove and get yards after yards after yards when you have great blocking up front and from the halfbacks.”
Page 2 of 3 - The game was all Davis after halftime. Deaundre Carr didn’t have a carry in the first half, but the senior combined with Ruth on the first drive of the third quarter to spark Davis’ offense.
Carr’s 18-yard TD run finished a six-play, 68-yard drive in which he and Ruth were the only ballcarriers. On the opening drive, the Davis offensive line opened up holes for the duo at 9.5 yards a pop. That, compounded with three Millwood penalties, sent the Falcons into a tailspin.
Carr, who had been battling an ankle injury all week, didn’t show any ill effects. He finished with two interceptions on defense and all 68 of his rushing yards after the break.
“Honestly, I was kinda down because I didn’t get the ball in the first half, but I was thinking to myself ‘what can I do to contribute to my team,’” Carr said.
After Carr’s touchdown run, Millwood had its last hint of dominance stolen. On third-and-3, Millwood went back to its bread and butter, but receiver Dashawn Stephens was met head on by Davis’ defensive back Blake Summers, who was all over the Falcons’ screen pass.
On the next play, Millwood snapped the ball over its punter’s head, setting up Ruth for a 5-yard touchdown run. Hetherington ran in the 2-point conversion, and a stunned Millwood team suddenly found itself in a tie game with 1:33 left in the third.
“We all felt like we could pull it off,” senior lineman Riley Wilson said. “Once we got our first scoring drive, we just started rolling from there.”
And Davis dominated the fourth quarter through Ruth, who finally tilted the scales in his battle with Lambuth. On fourth-and-2 out of a timeout, Millwood went for it at the Davis 48, only for Lambuth to be met in the hole by Ruth for a minimal gain.
The call was no first down, effectively signaling the end of Millwood’s night. Davis’ offensive line began to wear on Millwood, marching to the Falcons’ 5 before Hetherington’s short run put Davis ahead for good at 6:47.
The rest read like a Davis-written movie script. Ruth’s 61-yard TD sprint. Hetherington’s interception deep in Davis territory, returned to the Millwood 15. Hetherington’s 15-yard TD run.
Potts added a late touchdown pass to finish 25-of-36 for 285 yards. The Wolves didn’t pass once in the second half and didn’t need to, outrushing Millwood 213-11.
Carr and senior lineman Ryder McCaskill each compared Friday’s comeback to Davis’ rally against Jones in 2010. In that game, the Wolves rallied from behind at home against a more talented side to win in the second round.
Page 3 of 3 - Sounds familiar? That was the same year Davis ended up in the state championship game. The Wolves are hoping for a similar ride this time around.
“We came in at half and talked about finding out what we’re about,” Weber said.
“If we’d had lost that football game, I don’t think I could have been upset about anything but the loss, because we played with a lot of will.”
Erik K. Horne