The Alex Mickley show might have a new co-star.
The senior running back ran for 143 yards and four touchdowns, but E.J. Jennings added 97 yards last night for Hilliard Davidson, which stomped Grove City 28-7 in a season opener.
The Wildcats dominated on both sides of the ball. Their offense repeatedly produced long, methodical drives, totaling close to 300 yards on the ground, and the defense limited Grove City to just 30 yards of total offense.
Davidson’s running game was in full force, coach Brian White said, and the maturation of Jennings will only make it more dangerous. Jennings adds another layer of powerful pop in the backfield and will help feed the near-unstoppable running onslaught.
“E.J. is a good complement,” White said. “He had some mop-up duties for us last year, but he’s getting better. He’s buying into our system.”
But Mickley is still the star. He rushed for more than 1,500 yards last season (with 29 touchdowns) and hasn’t lost a step, wreaking havoc on the Greyhounds defense.
Aside from a 31-yard double-reverse touchdown run on a fourth-and-5 play, most of Mickley’s yards came only a few at a time. Those yards might be even better, he said, because that’s when a defense gets worn down.
“We don’t look for those big runs, just 3, 4 yards at a time,” Mickley said. “They all add up.”
The 5-foot-9, 189-pound running back added scoring runs of 1, 7 and 2 yards.
Davidson appeared well on its way to pitching a shutout, but one mistake on offense helped end that.
Leading 14-0 and on their first drive of the second half, the Wildcats attempted one of their rare passes just outside the Grove City 20-yard line. The play backfired when an underthrown ball floated into the hands of Greyhounds cornerback Ryan Barbari. The senior returned the ball deep into Davidson territory.
Grove City proceeded to pound the ball in for a touchdown, with running back Connor Lucas scoring from 1 yard out to help tighten the score to 14-7.
“I called a bad play,” White said about the pass. “I stuck my nose in, and that was completely my fault. … Who knows, but we’d like to think we’d have had a shutout if not for that play.”
The Wildcats squashed any Greyhounds comeback hopes by scoring touchdowns on their next two drives.
Senior Jordan Fisher paced the Grove City running game in the early going, but as the score became more lopsided, his carries dwindled. He picked up 23 or his total 39 yards on his first carry of the game.
Quarterback Nick Davis was often pressured in the second half as the Greyhounds tried to rely on their passing game. He completed 6 of 9 passes, but all were for short gains. He ended with just 16 passing yards, but lost much more on broken rushes and sacks.