St. David's coach Daniel Evans knew it was a going to take a nearly perfect game for his Warriors to upset defending state champion and undefeated Rocky Mount Academy Friday night in the NCISAA 8-man football state semifinals.
But it wasn't to be for the young Warriors team as the Eagles turned two straight St. David's turnovers into touchdown and went on to run away with a 60-30 win.
Rocky Mount Academy (11-0) will now face either Kinston Parrott, a 72-42 winner over Southampton, in the state championship game next week. St. David's ends with season 7-4, with two of the losses to RMA.
"I didn't know what the expectations should be coming in," said Evans, who was in his first year as head coach. "So we set them high. We had the talent, but the teams that beat us were better than us."
Rocky Mount averages 57 points a game and it took the opening kickoff and went 72 yards in 10 plays with quarterback Kyle Holland scoring from the 9. But St. David's responded with a its own scoring drive of 56 yards and senior Reef Ivey scored from the 2 and passed to Baylor Wordsworth for a 2-pointe conversion to tie the score at 8-8.
The Eagles came right back with a 54-yard touchdown run by Jacob Hunter to retake the lead and that's when the Warriors turned the ball over twice and found themselves behind 30-8.
"The speech before the game and all this week was we'll have a chance if we don't turn the ball over, play well up front, and if we know our assignments against their single wing," Evans said. "Then we came out with two turnovers. You kind of have to match scores with a team like that and once you've turned it over a couple of times, you're done."
Hunter, a junior, later added a 55-yard scoring run and rushed for 168 yards. Rod White, a sophomore, led the Eagles with 211 yards and scored four times.
St. David's junior Melvin Briggs rushed for 208 yards and scored on runs of 80 and 13 yards. Sophomore quarterback Garrett Lewis pass for 108 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown pass to junior Braxton Montague.
Evans' squad had just five seniors, with a strong mix of sophomores and juniors returning next year.
"William Wampler has been a captain and Reef Ivey has been a four-year starter, first-team all-state linebacker and the other guys have contributed, too. We'll miss them," Evans said of the seniors.
Evans saluted the play of Briggs and Ivey against the Eagles.
"Melvin, for sure, and Reef plays just about every down. He's tough and when he's into the game, the other guys are too."