SYRACUSE — It was strength vs. strength when Davis running back Tanner Hinds and his offense took on Syracuse's stingy defense in a key Region 1 game Friday night.
The Titans won the first few rounds, but by the end of the game it was no contest. Hinds gashed Syracuse for 193 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries to lead the Darts to a 28-14 victory. The win improved Davis' record to 3-0 in league play and Syracuse dropped to 2-1.
"The line just made holes tonight," Hinds said. "This is one of our biggest games in region. I couldn't have done it without my line."
Hinds, by his lofty standards, was bottled up by Syracuse in the first half, as he had 47 rushing yards on 10 carries at halftime. Of all the factors to spark Hinds and the Darts' offensive line, it actually came from the team's defense.
Davis recovered a fumble on Syracuse's first possession of the third quarter and quickly cashed in. Hinds scored on a 20-yard run — his longest of the night at that point — to even the game at 14-14.
Late in the third quarter, with Syracuse deep in its own territory, the Darts' Landon Hart intercepted a pass by Titans quarterback Tanner Russell and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown. That play gave Davis a lead it wouldn't relinquish at 21-14.
"That was huge," said Davis coach Ryan Bishop. "It was most definitely the turning point. To be able to come up with that at that point, I could just feel the change in our kids."
Davis' defense had to come up huge two more times to preserve the win. Midway through the fourth, the Darts stuffed Syracuse on a fourth-and-two play on Davis' 5-yard line. And then with 3:32 left in the game, Davis senior Kyler Sprague intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone to end Syracuse's final threat.
The Darts then were attempting to run the clock out when Hinds broke off a 55-yard touchdown run to put the game away.
"That last play the linemen got off the ball and I don't know what to say about Tanner," Bishop said. "Jiminy Christmas."
The Titans had control of the game early on their home field. Russell rushed for 75 yards on his first five carries and Syracuse put together a methodical drive that took more than eight minutes off the clock in the second quarter. Russell capped the long drive off with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Dillon Caldwell to give Syracuse a 14-7 lead going into halftime.
At halftime, Bishop told his players they hadn't done enough to make Syracuse earn its lead and that it was time to get back to playing Davis football.
"We said let's get back and do what we do — let's run the ball, let's play good 'D' and let's do good on special teams," Bishop said. "We didn't feel like we did that to the best of our ability and we were still in the game. We said let's regroup and go win it now."
With three turnovers caused by their defense and 146 rushing yards by Hinds in the second half, the Darts did just that.