Separated by 20 miles, Davidson and J.C. Smith will add another chapter to their budding football rivalry on Saturday.
Davidson (0-2) is looking to build momentum when it visits the Golden Bulls at McGirt Field, while J.C. Smith (2-0) aims to maintain an unbeaten start. The schools have met three times previously, with the Golden Bulls winning the first game in 1989 and Davidson the next two, including a 35-7 victory in 2011. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.
Anytime you get the opportunity to play in Mecklenburg County, 20 minutes down the road from you, thats a big deal, first-year Wildcats coach Paul Nichols said. Its not just a big deal because theyre 20 minutes down the road, its a big deal because Johnson C. Smith is a heck of a program and a heck of a team.
Golden Bulls coach Steve Aycock said putting an unbeaten record on the line against an in-country rival adds to the drama.
Itll be great for the city, he said. Davidson played us tough in 11, but weve got a different style of defense going, different personnel and hopefully the defense can keep us in it. I know we can score.
J.C. Smith is off to a sizzling start on offense, averaging 46 points and 412.5 yards per game. Junior quarterback Keahn Wallace, who was benched in the opener for violating team rules, threw for a school-record 425 yards and four touchdowns last week in a 58-41 win against Bowie State while receiver Fred Scott has 16 catches in two games for 238 yards and four touchdowns.
They snuck up on us my freshman year and they beat us pretty bad, said Wallace, who completed 11-of-29 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown in that game. I doubt that will happen this year.
Davidson, who lost 34-18 to Lenoir-Rhyne last week, has a potent passing attack led by senior quarterback Jonathan Carkhuff, who threw for 427 yards and five touchdowns against J.C. Smith, including a school-record 99-yarder to Lanny Funsten. For Carkhuff (49-of-88, 588 yards, 4 TDs) to be effective, the Wildcats will need to be successful on the ground. Davidson has been outscored 76-24 and outgained by an average of 441.5 yards per game to 341 yards.
Weve got to get our running game untracked, said Nichols, who played quarterback at Davidson from 1999-2003. We cant play this entire season and rely on Jonathan to throw the ball. If thats all were going to do, defenses will adjust.
Regardless of Saturdays outcome, Aycock and Nichols are eager to make the series more consistent. Its certainly possible considering the schools proximity and overlapping alumni bases.
Shoot, Id love to play people in Mecklenburg County as much as we can, Nichols said. It brings a sense of camaraderie amongst the area. It certainly benefits everybody from a fan standpoint because it doesnt matter whether youre playing at Smith or playing at Davidson, the fans can all get there. Its virtually a home game.
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