Football season began for Presbyterian College in the spring, which was a scoop in itself. The Blue Hose began by taking Bulldogs to their last cranky growl (Gardner-Webb, 31-24, in double overtime), and then preventing Eagles from establishing a nest (31-16 over Morehead State).
Given its budding membership in the Pioneer Football League, Wildcats, the ones representing Davidson College, are destined to provide Presbyterian with its most familiar rivalry in the geographically expansive PFL.
This is because Davidson is the only PFL opponent without a 2-hour drive; the only opponent that PC is playing both home and away; and the only opponent that, like PC, calls itself a college, not a university.
Both teams enter Saturday’s 1 p.m. game at Davidson’s Richardson Stadium with records of 1-1 overall and 1-0 in the PFL.
“We’ve sure got our work cut out for us the next two weeks because Davidson’s very good,” PC head coach Tommy Spangler said. “They had Elon beat. Fourth and one. If they get the 1 yard, the game’s over. Elon stuffs ’em and goes down the field in the final minute and scores. Davidson got a good win over Stetson (26-20). They’ve really improved over the last couple years, and they play option football. That seems to have helped them, obviously, and they’re playing a lot better on defense.”
The PFL powerhouse, the University of San Diego – yes, the one in California -- visits Presbyterian on March 27.
Davidson quarterback Tyler Phelps rushed for 120 yards and also passed for 2 TDs in the Wildcats’ win over Stetson. Presbyterian is visiting on the occasion of Davidson’s first home game.
In its long history in the PFL, Davidson’s all-time record is 38-88, but it’s 10-7 in Scott Abell’s three seasons as head coach. The Wildcats lead the all-time series with PC 14-13-2, but the Blue Hose have won the past four games and Davidson hasn’t defeated Presbyterian since 1967.
Davidson’s first priority is the run. Presbyterian seeks a balance between the run and the pass.
‘I don’t think there’s any doubt,” Spangler said. “When you can establish the run … for us to be 1-dimensional and them to be teeing off on rushing the passer … Devecchio Powell had a great game (26-104 rushing). The main thing to me is he didn’t turn it over. There were no fumbles. He got tackled for some losses here and there, but he kept plugging.
“With (Tyler) Huff being that kind of guy who can hurt you throwing it … when you got the run going, that’s only going to help you.”
Davidson’s leading rusher, junior Coy Williams, also leads the PFL, as do the Wildcats as a team. Williams has gained 196 yards in 26 carries.
“Could we easily be 2-0? Could be, but we are what we are,” Spangler said. “I love the attitude of this team. I love the culture within the program. I think I sense it and feel it’s better than it’s ever been. I don’t know what has sparked that other than we got some good senior leadership, and it is a different time.
“I’ve got mixed emotions. i’m pleased with some things, not so pleased with others. It’s survive and move on. That’s what we’re doing right now.”