Things had to get better for the Davidson Wildcats after a 69-0 loss at The Citadel in last week’s football season opener.
This time the result was the same – a 35-21 loss to area Division II opponent Catawba in the home opener at Richardson Stadium. But as they say in politics, the optics definitely improved.
The Wildcats (0-2) couldn’t avoid the 24th loss in the program’s last 25 outings, but they did roll up 362 yards total offense – nearly three times last weeks’ total – and stayed within striking distance until the final minutes.
But Catawba (1-1), was more than a match when it had the football, rolling up 490 yards and taking a 25-7 lead late in the first half, before the Wildcats rallied to within a pair of touchdowns twice in the second half.
Making a Difference
Carey Littlejohn, Catawba: The senior running back gave the Indians a lead they wouldn’t give up with a 64-yard scoring run 8 minutes and 10 seconds into the game. He carried 27 times for 193 yards.
William Morris, Davidson: The Davidson passing attack was late getting traction, but the senior wide receiver made the Wildcats’ two biggest catches from quarterback John Cook — on a 42-yard grab that set up Keil’s 3-yard touchdown run just before halftime, trimming the Catawba lead to 25-14. He made a 12-yard touchdown reception with 5 minutes left in the game, finishing with 6 catches for 73 yards.
▪ Big plays were an Achilles heel for the Davidson defense last season, and the Wildcats gave up a big one in the first quarter on Littlejohn’s touchdown. The Wildcats had better luck containing the pass until late in the third quarter on the 50-yard scoring pass from quarterback Mike Sheehan to wide receiver Bruce Smith.
▪ New rule on touchbacks? Well, no, but it certainly looked that way late in the third quarter. After a 30-yard field goal by Chad Hollandsworth put Catawba up 28-14, the ensuing kickoff went out of the end zone and Davidson took over on its own 26 – an inexplicable bonus yard for the Wildcats.
▪ Morris continued his march toward becoming Davidson’s all-time leader in receiving yardage. He needs 247 yards to set the mark.
Davidson has next Saturday off before beginning its Pioneer Football League schedule at 1 p.m. Sept. 26 at Morehead (Ky.) State. Catawba opens its South Atlantic Conference schedule at Carson-Newman at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Catawba has won the last five meetings between the Indians and the Wildcats. Davidson’s last win was a 30-15 victory in 1984 in Salisbury.