The Wildcats (4-1, 2-0 District 5-AA) finally handed Davis what he has been looking for Friday night with a 26-19 District 5-AA win over rival Sweetwater (4-1, 0-1 5-AA).
"We got four quarters. We still made mistakes, but I made mistakes too on some calls," said Davis as his team celebrated the victory. "The thing is, we didn't panic and I thought we did get four quarters tonight, what we've been looking for for five weeks. I thought we got it tonight."
To no one's surprise, Polk followed the lead of junior fullback Zach Miller. The 6-1, 22-5 pound workhorse rumbled for an even 200 yards on 25 carries. Miller's deceptive speed showed in a 72-yard scoring burst in the second quarter.
"Miller came up big for us as usual. He is our go-to guy and we count on him a lot for the big play," said Davis of his big back. "We had some kids playing hurt tonight that stayed in there."
The Polk Wildcats got on the board first without the benefit of an offensive play. After forcing a punt from Sweetwater on its opening drive, junior Chris Wimberley fielded the kick, made a couple of spiffy moves and raced 78 yards for the touchdown. Josh Silas made it 7-0 with the PAT.
"We had another big special teams play. It was a great run by Wimberley and that got us started. "The punt return cost me a pizza party again, but I'll buy every week if we can return one," said a happy Davis.
Polk missed out on a second TD when the Sweetwater Wildcats held Polk inches short on a fourth-and-5 at the Sweetwater 2-yard line.
The northern 'Cats took advantage of the opportunity. Sweetwater marched 98 yards in 19 plays stretching the drive through parts of two quarters to pull within one. Polk held onto the lead after blocking the point after kick.
Miller quickly extended his wildcats' lead the next time he touched the ball. The big back took the handoff from quarterback Duncan Coffey, broke through the Sweetwater first line and races untouched for 72 yards and the score to put Polk on top 13-6.
Sweetwater fired right back with a chance to tie the game after scoring on its next possession. The PAT again failed and Polk held a slim 13-12 lead with just under eight minutes left in the second quarter.
It took just over 30 seconds, 31 to be exact for the Polk Wildcats to get back in the endzone. Coffey stepped under center took the snap and pitched the ball to Wimberley on an apparent sweep around left end that never happened. Wimberley pulled up and fired a perfect rocket catching a wide open Justin Brown in perfect stride down the sideline. Brown easily covered the distance to the endzone. The 2-point conversion fell short.
"It was our Wildcat special. We've had that in since I've been here and we try to pick and choose when we run it. Wimberley threw that ball perfectly. And Brown is one who can adjust to the ball. He adjusted a little and we got the score," recalled the Polk coach. "Every now and then we will pull it out of the bag and it worked tonight."
The Polk defense had to step up one more time before the half to hang onto its 19-12 lead. The Polk Wildcats stopped the Sweetwater Wildcats on the Polk 14 after another long drive that started at the Sweetwater 34.
After a scoreless third quarter that saw Josh Silas put a stop to yet another Sweetwater drive with an interception, Polk put the finishing touches on a drive started before changing ends of the field with a 7-yard Miller plunge.
Sweetwater kept it interesting with a score midway through the fourth closing the gap to 26-19.
Polk missed out on a final scoring drive after a fumble at the visitor's 17-yard line gave the ball back to Sweetwater. But for the third time in the game the Polk County defense stepped up and stopped Sweetwater on fourth-and-7 with 1:48 left in the game. From there, The Wildcats were able to run out the clock for the win.
"I live play-to-play and didn't realize we had that many fourth down stops. It was frustrating at times. They did a good job of scheming us and they were ready. They had some long drives, but we came up when we needed to," said Davis.
"We made it exciting. We fumbled down there when all we had to do was get a first down. But the defense came back and held them and we were able to run out the clock."
Davis pointed out the win came against a quality opponent and will hopefully give the Wildcats a needed boost in energy as they head into Friday's road game against Walker Valley.
"This wasn't some rinky-dink team. They were 4-0 for a reason. You can't say we haven't beat a winning team. They are a good, well coached team. They have some athletes and caused us some problems," he said. "I will say I am excited about our effort tonight even though we still are making mistakes. You are never going to be perfect, but we did enough to pull it out. All I know is we are 4-1."
Sweetwater 0 12 0 7 — 19
Polk County 7 12 0 7 — 26
PC — Chris Wimberley 78 punt return (Josh Silas kick), 10:05
S — Andrew Barr 1 run (kick failed), 10:19
PC — Zach Miller 72 run (kick failed), 9:58
S — Barr 1 run (kick failed), 7:51
PC — Justin Brown 52 pass from Wimberley (run failed), 7:20
PC — Miller 7 run (Justin Brown kick), 9:44
S — Jordan McGauhey 5 run (Garret Zickgraff kick), 4:16
First downs 24 17
Rushes-yards 46-231 46-307
Passing yards 126 52
Total yards 357 359
Comp-Att-Int 12-25-1 1-2-1
Punts -Ave. 2-34.5 2-37.5
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties 4-30 5-43
Rushing: Jordan McGauhey 27-146 (S); Miller 25-200. Josh Silas 2-43, Chris Wimberley 4-33;
Passing: Barr 12-25-1, 126 (S); Wimberley 1-0-1, 52, Duncan Coffey 0-1-0 (PC);
Receiving: Nick Wicker 6-70 (S); Justin Brown 1-52 (PC).
Records: Sweetwater 4-1, 0-1 District 5-AA; Polk County 4-1, 2-0 District 5-AA.