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FOOTBALL: Danville hammers Boyle County in rivalry game

When Danville left the field after last year’s loss to Boyle County, during which the Rebels put a running clock on the board, Admirals coach Clay Clevenger remembers the loneliness of walking off the field.

This year, it was Danville’s turn to skorch some earth.

The Ads scored three times in the first quarter, two more times in the first five minutes of the second quarter and used a running clock to quickly end Friday’s rivalry game at Rebel Stadium in a 43-15 shellacking.

“It was kind of our night,” Clevenger said. “I can remember last year, walking off after they put a running clock on us, and I thought we were a better football team than that. … It was probably as low as it’s been. But they say when you have low times, good times are to come. We’ve been on a good run since then.”

The win marks Clevenger’s first over Boyle as head coach of his alma mater, and it was also the first time these Danville seniors had beaten their rivals. Judging by the celebration on the field after the win, it was a moment of catharsis.

“It always seems to be a close game, but we have an explosive offense and if our defense came to play, nothing would have surprised me,” Ads quarterback Zach Dampier said.

“The seniors especially had a lot of unfinished business, we didn’t want to go out without beating them. We made sure everybody was focused this week.”

Donlevy Harris, who pounded his way through the Southwestern defense a week ago, picked up where he left off. On the game’s fourth play from scrimmage, Harris took a handoff up the middle, cut to the right and powered up the sideline for a 43-yard score.

Harris added two more first-half touchdowns, turning a screen pass into a 58-yard score down the visitors sideline, and taking a toss right four yards to the end zone.

“Don, whenever he can pound and get five-to-80 yards, he can bust it whenever, that makes the play action open up,” Dampier said.

Mixed in there, Dampier and David Walker hit for the first of their two scoring connections when Walker got behind his defender and bolted untouched for a 46-yard score.

Walker and Dampier were at it again midway through the second quarter, and their 36-yard TD set up a 2-point conversion run by Dmauriae VanCleave for a 36-0 lead and a running clock, the first time in program history Boyle had ever suffered such a deficit to start the mercy rule.

And with a running clock, the Ads continued to go with their strength — Dampier finding their group of skilled receivers with perfect passes.

“All the play calls go to coach (Kyle) Singleton, he does a great job. I’ll help every now and then if I see something, but it’s all up to him,” Dampier said. “I kept the (telling) the guys, ‘Keep going, keep pushing, they’re not going to give up.’”

Dampier added one more TD — a 19-yard pass to Zach Thornton in the fourth quarter — to finish with four TD tosses and 314 yards. He was saddled with the first two interceptions of his season, giving him 930 yards, 13 TDs and two picks in three games.

He again mixed it up, connecting with six different receivers. Walker led the way with eight grabs for 143 yards, and Jaleel Warren had three catches for 80 yards.

The Rebels (0-3) struggled to get anything going through the first 17 minutes of game time. Of their first four drives, two ended in four-and-outs, one on a VanCleave interception and the other on a turnover-on-downs in the red zone.

“They got after us, they stayed after us, they just never let up, and our guys didn’t respond very good,” Boyle coach Chuck Smith said. “We acted like we were a deer in headlights, standing around, watching, waiting for somebody else to make a play. We never fought back, and that right there is disappointing to me.”

The Rebels broke through on their final possession of the first half, covering 66 yards in seven plays and resulting in an 8-yard TD pass from Sam Tiller to Reiley Colwick. Gunner Ashburn capped off a six-play drive to open the second half with a 4-yard TD rush to pull Boyle within 36-15.

However, a bad snap for a 21-yard loss drowned their next drive, and VanCleave interceptions ended their final three drives of the night.

“It’s easy to play hard like that when the game isn’t on the line. The game is on the line in the first and second quarters,” Smith said, “that’s when we need to play like that, not when the game has already been decided. We did come out and fight a little bit, but in their eyes on the other side, the game had already been decided.”

VanCleave finished with four interceptions, two of which helped set up Danville touchdowns. Clevenger said he’s been hard on the junior because he hadn’t felt VanCleave “has given me the effort I needed on defense. I felt like he responded tonight. He’s got great ball skills and when you throw it up around him, he can go hawk it down.”

Dampier didn’t dull the praise he heaped on VanCleave.

“Dmauriae is a great athlete,” Dampier said. “He could be the biggest (college) recruit in the area. He’s got the work ethic, he works hard, he is so explosive and shifty, and he just plays hard and loves the game.”

The Ads (3-0) now roll into Week 3 with an undefeated record for the first time since 2010. They promptly lost their next three games during that season, something Clevenger doesn’t want to see happen this year with state-ranked Corbin coming to Danville next week.

“In my opinion, this is a semifinal-type environment,” Clevenger said. “We won this one, let’s go play next week, let’s finish this three-game streak right here.”

Follow Jeremy Schneider on Twitter @jschneideramn