Saturday, September 01, 2007

Wildcats top Braves in home opener

UNC-Pembroke showed up at Richardson Field with more fans, more pep, and a band to boot, but ultimately the Davidson Wildcats showed them up between the sidelines, running to a 31-21 victory in the season's home opener in front of 4217 fans.

The game marked the first time that Pembroke had played football in 57 years and the school supported their team well, sending five charter buses of fans and family across the Piedmont of North Carolina. Before the game started, the black and gold-clad fans had already packed their seats and created a very real sense of electricity. When the marching band paraded in, the place nearly erupted.

The Davidson offense quickly silenced the visitors as they marched 91 yards down the field on nine plays to take a quick 7-0 lead. The Braves quickly struck back with a long 64 yard TD pass down the opposite sideline. But the ensuing extra point proved to be one of the emblematic moments of the night for the Braves. The kicker booted a line drive extra point that caromed off the backside of his center.

On the night, the Braves missed every single conversion opportunity, had a field goal blocked, lost a fumble and committed eight turnovers for 85 yards.

Davidson's offense, on the other hand, looked like a well-oiled least until starting QB Ryan Alexander went down with injury. Alexander went 12-17 for 124 yards and a TD as he led Davidson to a 14-6 lead after the first quarter. But with 12:45 left in the first half, the senior leader scrambled out of the pocket on a third down attempt and was hit hard by UNCP defender. He would sit out the rest of the game with his shoulder in a sling.

With the team's aerial leader on the sidelines, running back Chad Barnes stepped in to carry the workload. The junior back finished with 29 carries and 179 yards on the ground. Despite having the defense pretty much key on him for most of the second half, Barnes was able to power his way through the line and keep the chains moving at a steady clip.

Defensively, linebacker Bud Crawford had a big night for the Wildcats as he recorded 5 tackles, had an interception and blocked a field goal try.

Davidson will continue its non-conference schedule next week when they take on Wingate on the road.

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