Davidson football coach Paul Nichols said he doesn’t want his team to be “the program that got close.”
But the Wildcats, as they’ve done on more than a couple of occasions this season, did just that without coming away with a win Saturday, falling to Jacksonville 35-17 in a Pioneer Football League game at Richardson Field.
Jacksonville quarterback Rylan Wells, a former Fort Mill High standout, ran for two touchdowns and passed for another, leading a second-half surge that sent the Wildcats (2-7, 0-6 PFL) to their sixth straight loss.
“Until we can figure out how to take that next step, we’re just going to be the team that got close,” Nichols said. “And that’s not what we want.”
The Wildcats never led, but were within 14-10 at halftime before Jacksonville scored 21 points in the third quarter to pull away.
Three who mattered
Rylan Wells, quarterback, Jacksonville: The junior from Tega Cay, S.C., hurt Davidson with his running and passing. He scored on touchdown runs of 15 and 2 yards and finished with 110 yards on 12 carries — none for a loss. He completed 13 of 19 passes for 211 yards and one touchdown, a 38-yard strike to Brian Burnett on the last play of the third quarter for the game’s final points.
Jaris Scott, wide receiver, Davidson: The junior from Jacksonville, Fla., had a career-best 190 receiving yards against the visitors from his hometown — including his 73-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter from quarterback Stockton McGuire. It was the Wildcats’ second-longest play from scrimmage this season.
John Cook, punter, Davidson: The senior, a former quarterback for the Wildcats, did his part to keep Jacksonville in its own territory, averaging 41.4 yards a kick. He put three inside the Dolphins’ 20 — including a rolling 66-yarder to the Jacksonville 9 in the last minute of the first half, missing his career best by a yard.
The Wildcats played a pretty clean game — only one penalty for 10 yards and only one turnover. But the single giveaway — a interception thrown into the end zone by McGuire to end a promising first-quarter drive — killed a chance for Davidson to score first in the game.
“You have to take advantage of every opportunity and we’re not doing it,” Nichols said.
Davidson hasn’t beaten Jacksonville at home since 2008 and has lost the past eight games against the Dolphins.
They said it
“We need a lot more consistency on offense, and on defense we just need to do a better job of tackling.” — Nichols.
Davidson plays at Campbell at 4 p.m. on Saturday. ...The Wildcats’ next home game is a 1 p.m. kickoff against Morehead State on Nov. 19 in the season finale.