CRESTVIEW – More than middle school bragging rights were on the line as Shoal River hosted Davidson in the cross-town rivalry football game Thursday night at Crestview High School’s Jack Foster Stadium.
The Mustangs were trying to secure a spot in the upcoming Okaloosa County playoffs and the Panthers were trying to play spoiler. Davidson’s spoiler role was never to be.
Shoal River capitalized on multiple Davidson mistakes to take a 33-8 win and wrap up a spot in the playoffs.
The Mustangs (5-2) finished as the No. 3 seed in the county and travel to Niceville to take on No. 2 seed Bruner on Thursday in a 6:30 p.m. game.
“It’s always good to beat a good football team,” Shoal River coach Ryan Gillis said. “Hats off to (Davidson) coach (Chris) Small and his staff. They always come in prepared.
“They’ve had a rough year this year, but it’s always a battle when you come in here. It’s good to get a win. It’s always good to beat the Davidson Panthers.”
Depending on who you were rooting for, things went from good to great or bad to worse in the blink of an eye when the Panthers fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and Lajonte Watson recovered the fumble and advanced the ball for the Mustangs at the Davidson 19-yard line.
It took the Mustangs seven plays to move the 19 yards before quarterback Rusty Moorer found Kameron Parker with an 11-yard touchdown pass.
The Panthers moved the ball to deep into Mustang territory on the second possession of the night. However, the drive stalled at the 3-yard line and Shoal River took over on offense again.
For a brief moment the momentum swung in Davidson’s favor when the Panthers dropped Kenny Whaley in the end zone for a safety.
The safety turned out to be Davidson’s only score of the first half.
Davidson continued having problems holding on to the football as the Panthers fumbled the ensuing free kick after the safety and the Mustangs again recovered. The first quarter ended with a Davidson muffed punt, which was again recovered by the Mustangs as time expired in the first quarter.
After the muff, Shoal River set up shop on the Panther 22-yard line and aided by a pair of off sides penalties against Davidson, the Mustangs needed just four plays before Monderas Flavors scored from two yards out.
A 55-yard pass play from Moorer to Chris Raines put Shoal River up 20=2 with 3:57 left in the half. The Mustangs weren’t done though as Moorer scored on a 5-yard run with 56 seconds left in the half and Shawn Galliano kicked the extra point to push the lead to 27-2 at the half.
The ball finally bounced Davidson’s way on Shoal River’s first drive the third quarter. The Mustangs were on the move and had the ball down to the Panther 8-yard line.
A motion penalty against Shoal River moved the ball back to the 13. The next play the Mustangs fumbled and the Panthers recovered it at their own 12.
Aided by a couple of major penalties, Davidson took the ball the length of the field and scored its only touchdown of the night when Bryce Larking motored into the end zone from two yards out.
A touchdown late in the fourth quarter by Shoal River tailback Jalen Ciurleo was the last score of the night and capped the big win for Shoal River.
“We had three turnovers in the first quarter and four in the first half and we never could get it going,” Davidson coach Chris Small said. “They are a very good football team. They came out and beat us physically and they won the game.
“That’s two years in a row (with a losing season) and that’s not Davidson football.”
The final stats indicate the game was much closer than the final score indicated.
Davidson had 147 yards in total offense and Shoal River had 175 total yards.
Moorer was 5-of-10 passing for 119 yards. Parker had two catches for 43 yards, Braxton Mullarkey had two catches for 21 yards.
Davidson’s Keon Viosin led all rushers with 61 yards on five carries. Larkin add 26 yards on six carries for the Panthers.