The over-under in the press box for the number of passes the Hilliard Davidson High School football team would throw in the opener Aug. 24 at Grove City was three.
The under won.
The Wildcats threw only two passes but used a bruising running game -- led by 220-pound tailback E.J. Jennings -- to defeat the Dawgs 26-14.
Grove City took the opening kickoff and moved 66 yards in five plays for a 7-0 lead. Quarterback Cameron Meece led the Dawgs with a 16-yard run and completed two passes on the drive, the first to wide receiver Ben Myers for 30 yards and the second a 16-yard touchdown to wide receiver Justin Waddle after Meece scrambled to extend the play.
On their second drive, the Wildcats did what they do best: they ran the ball 12 consecutive times for 83 yards before junior quarterback Nick Iske threw 4 yards to an open Nick Potts in the end zone to tie the score with 33 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
On its next drive, Davidson ran eight times, all the carries by Jennings, who crossed the goal line on a 2-yard score that gave him 101 yards rushing in the first half.
“I didn’t really get tired,” Jennings said. “Maybe a little because of the humidity, but our coaching staff has us in great condition.”
Trailing 13-7, Grove City defensive back Peyton Bowyer recovered a fumble in the Wildcats’ backfield and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown to give the Dawgs a 14-13 lead. But it didn’t last long.
On its final possession of the first half, the Davidson offense opened with runs of 11 and 5 yards by wide receiver Nathan Sokol and runs of 22 and 32 yards by running back Phillipie Motley, the latter a touchdown that gave the Wildcats a 19-14 lead.
The Wildcats never trailed again.
Field position favored Grove City throughout the third quarter as the Dawgs defense held Davidson without a first down on its first two possessions. But a fumble by Grove City running back Jake Norbut near midfield gave Davidson a short field and the Wildcats moved 39 yards before Jennings capped the scoring with an 8-yard run.
“E.J. has a big body,” said offensive co-coordinator Jeremey Scally. “He goes 220 and I think he can wear down defenders when they’re asked to tackle him repeatedly.”
After the game, Davidson coach Brian White told his players that they had “earned a good win, but you didn’t play a good game. You have to decide how far you want to take this. I hope you come in ready tomorrow to be coached up.”
GC – Waddle 16 pass from Meece (Nankivell kick)
HD – Potts 4 pass from Iske (Johns kick)
HD – Jennings 2 run (kick failed)
GC – Bowyer 29 fumble return (Nankivell kick)
HD – Motley 32 run (run failed)
HD – Jennings 8 run (Johns kick)