DAVIDSON The Davidson Wildcats are going to have to learn how to seize the moment, their first-year football coach said after Saturday night’s 34-18 loss to Lenoir-Rhyne at Richardson Stadium.
“We gave ourselves a chance, but we couldn’t capitalize and that was the story,” Davidson coach Paul Nichols said after the Wildcats fell short in a fourth-quarter comeback try in front of a home-opener crowd of 5,317.
“We had opportunities to make some plays, and that’s what great teams do. We’ll get there.”
Quarterback Jonathan Carkhuff completed 27-of-46 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns, but the Wildcats (0-2) trailed Lenoir-Rhyne 31-12 with 11-1/2 minutes left in the game after Isaiah Whitaker’s 7-yard touchdown run for the visitors.
Carkhuff engineered a scoring drive in four plays, highlighted by a 46-yard pass to William Morris. Martel Campbell scored the touchdown on a 29-yard pass from Carkhuff with 10:08 left to play. A two-point try failed, leaving the score 31-18.
Chris Gorman recovered his own onside kick after it was touched by the Bears at the Davidson 40. But the Wildcats couldn’t move the ball from there.
Lenoir-Rhyne (1-1), which has won at least a share of the past two Division II South Atlantic Conference titles, ended the scoring with a 47-yard field goal by Justin Powell with 4:17 to play.
“I thought we played hard for 60 minutes,” Nichols said. “There was improvement from Week 1 (a 42-6 loss at Georgetown). Our offense and our overall execution were a lot better. We need to do a better job on the defensive front.”
Lenoir-Rhyne rolled up 508 yards of offense, including 425 yards rushing. Three backs had more than 80 yards each for the Bears, led by Whitaker’s 107 yards on 21 carries.
The teams traded touchdowns in a frantic first three minutes of the game. The Wildcats drove 75 yards in seven plays and scored on a 20-yard pass from Carkhuff to tight end Reese Williams for a 6-0 lead after the extra point failed.
But Lenoir-Rhyne’s Jarrod Spears returned the kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and a 7-6 lead.
The Bears extended that lead to 17-6 with a 26-yard field goal by Zach Neumann with five minutes left in the first quarter, and a 47-yard touchdown pass from Miles Freeman to James Phillips with 7:50 remaining in the first half.
But Carkhuff led a Davidson scoring drive of 89 yards in eight plays in the final minutes of the first half. He hit Morris with an 8-yard touchdown pass just 11 seconds before halftime, trimming the Bears’ advantage to 17-12 at the break.
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