Teams schedule opponents they expect to beat early in the season for myriad reasons.
Sometimes they’re looking to snap a losing streak or installing a new system and need to work out the kinks. Either way, it’s nice to get the season started with a layup, right?
Davidson discovered the pitfalls to such a tactic firsthand Saturday, as it looked over-matched in a 35-7 loss to the Division II South Atlantic Conference Catawba College Indians in front of 4,823 at Richardson Stadium.
A week after a 56-0 thumping of College of Faith-Charlotte – a school that is still in the accreditation process and not yet affiliated with an athletic conference – snapped a 12-game losing streak for the Wildcats (1-1), they rekindled a long-lost rivalry with Catawba.
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Separated by 30 miles, the matchup was the first between the two since 1987 and doubled as the season-opener for the Indians (1-0) – though a case could be made that it did so for Davidson as well.
“I think just overall, the people on both sides of the ball that Catawba had did a really nice job,” said Davidson second-year coach Paul Nichols.
“They did a couple things with their new quarterback that they hadn’t shown,” Nichols continued. “It was a frustrating evening from the standpoint of consistency on both sides of the football. It’s time to go back to work.”
Catawba took control of the game with 8:33 to play in the first quarter after Davidson quarterback J.P Douglas (19-for-29, 117 yards) telegraphed a bubble-screen pass that was picked off and taken 67 yards for a touchdown by Jamal Lackey.
Douglas took a few steps after Lackey – whose score put the Indians up 7-0 – before accepting the inevitable.
“We had some good momentum early in the football game,” Nichols said. “We created a turnover and I felt like we had a chance with the ball on their side of the field. Then we ended up making a poor decision and they took advantage.”
Catawba quarterback Mike Sheehan connected on 10-of-11 first-half pass attempts for 137 yards and three scores to help his team take a 28-0 lead into the half.
The Indians totaled 484 yards of offense and held Davidson to just 243.
David Rodgers, who last week rushed for a career-high 116 yards, scored the Wildcats’ lone touchdown in the fourth and finished with 33 of the Wildcats’ 85 rushing yards.
Asked whether he would have preferred more of a test in Week 1, Nichols paused.
“You know what, I don’t know,” he said. “I think that we’re going to play the people on our schedule and do everything we possibly can to win every game and keep moving forward.”