DAVIDSON, N.C. – Brevard senior linebacker Jason Nieradka finished with a single-game career high 17 tackles, making 11 solo stops along the way, but Davidson emerged with a 30-7 victory in the season opener for both teams.
Nieradka led the way for the Tornado defense that was responsible for 84 total tackles (50 solo), two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries. He was joined among the defensive leaders by Jinsly Jhon and Johnathan Tucker, who finished with eight tackles apiece.
"There is no question that our defense played lights out," said head coach Bill Khayat. "They were prepared for this game and they took it to Davidson almost every snap. It was fabulous. The only thing that caught up to them was having to be on the field for so long. It is also disheartening when the offense basically gave Davidson the nine points in the first half."
While the defense came through with a solid performance the Tornado offense struggled to get on track throughout the evening. The offensive struggles came due in large part to Christopher Synenko's injury early in the contest. Synenko was the only Brevard offensive lineman with any significant playing time.
The Wildcats limited Brevard to 234 yards of total offense, including minus four yards on the ground, putting the Tornado defense on the field for just over 28 minutes.
"The defense went back out and played stellar in the second half, but the issue is that they were just out there for too long," added Khayat. "You just can't leave them out there for that many snaps especially with that no-huddle system that they were running."
Quarterback Ryan Jordan wrapped up his first performance as a Tornado by finishing 18-of-43 for 238 yards through the air. His longest pass of the evening was a 36-yard strike to Bubba Craven in the first half. Craven went onto finish the evening with 80 yards on four receptions. Teammate Tyler Gregory led the Brevard receiving corps with five catches, while Rikiya Bain added four receptions for 30 yards.
"The biggest key for us is to watch what we did today from an offensive standpoint," said Khayat. "There are so many things that we can correct and once that happens we will be able to make a lot more plays specifically on offense. There were opportunities that were there, that we missed, and there were also times that we didn't get that chance because we couldn't make the throw or have anywhere to run. It was not from a schematic standpoint, but rather a miscue here and a miscue there that led to so many negative plays for us offensively."
The Tornados defense put together a stout performance against Davidson throughout the opening half, limiting the Wildcats to 185 yards of total offense. The biggest chunk of yardage for Davidson's first half attack came on the ground as it managed 125 yards on 18 carries.
After a scoreless first quarter, Davidson put the first points on the board deep in the second half. With a first-and-goal situation for the Wildcats, Brevard's Trevon Charles forced a fumble by Davidson's Wesley Dugger to prevent the touchdown. Two plays later, with Brevard at the one-yard line, Bobby Clerisier was caught in the endzone for a Wildcat safety.
The Wildcats set themselves up on the following possession, starting the drive at the 13-yard line after a 40-yard return by William Wicks. Five plays later Stockton McGuire scored on a six-yard rush to give Davidson a 9-0 advantage heading into the intermission.
The lead moved to 16-0 at the 8:45 mark of the third quarter when Wesley Dugger scampered 10 yards into the endzone. After a seven-play drive for Brevard, Davidson took over at its own 30-yard line with six minutes remaining.
The Wildcats put together a 12-play, 70-yard drive that took 4:24 off the clock and resulted in a Kahleel Shaw 18-yard run for a touchdown as they assumed the 23-0 lead.
Brevard put its first points on the board early in the fourth quarter after putting together a seven-play, 66-yard drive that resulted in a Gregory six-yard run from scrimmage. The drive was highlighted by a pair of 12-yard rushes by Jordan and Nazayah Brown.
Davidson capped off scoring on the ensuing possession. The drive began with Dugger breaking through the Tornados defensive front for a 26-yard gain on the first play. Tyler Phelps then found Pat Tabor for a 56-yard reception in the endzone.
Brevard returns to action on Sept. 9 when it hosts Emory & Henry at 1 p.m. for the 2017 home opener.