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Ads let big lead slip away vs. LCA

Staring defeat in the eye for a second straight week, Lexington Christian rallied from a 26-7 first half deficit by scoring 28 straight points, then held off a late Danville comeback and defeated the Admirals 42-40 Friday night at Admiral Stadium on Senior Night.

Last week, Lexington Christian trailed Somerset on two occasions in the second half only to rally for a 41-28 win. Friday was no different. Danville scored easily on each of its first four possessions to lead 26-7 and looked poised to have its third straight running clock on the Eagles.

However, the Eagles finally got their first break of the game with a fumble recovery midway in period two to cut into the lead just before the half.

“We got up 26-7, then we just stalled out,” Danville coach Clay Clevenger said. “We had the game ready to bust open at that point but didn’t make the plays at that point to do so.”

Danville quarterback Zach Dampier, who connected on 25 of 34 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns, hit Ellison Stanfield for a 51 yard gain on the game’s opening play to the LCA 8-yard line, and Donlevy Harris, who gained 124 yards on 14 carries and scored twice, ran it in from there for a quick 6-0 lead just 21 seconds into the game.

LCA (8-0, 3-0) countered with an impressive 65-yard, 12-play drive of its own to take the lead. Dillon Wheatley, who led the Eagles with 243 yards on 37 attempts, bulled his way for 3- and 4-yard gains at a time but it was quarterback Logan Nieves who put the Eagles on the scoreboard with a 4-yard touchdown run, and Will Fugmann tacked on the extra point to give LCA a 7-6 lead.

Danville (7-2, 2-1) scored easily on each of its next three series. Dampier connected with David Walker, who led the Admirals with 105 yards on seven catches and three touchdowns, for a 19-yard score and Harris raced 54 yards for his second score of the half to give the Ads a 20-7 lead after one period.

Jaleel Warren not only set up the next score with his defense but scored, too. He swatted Nieves’ pass in the air and intercepted it, returning the theft to the LCA 35. After a five yard penalty placed the ball at the Eagles’ 40, Dampier connected with Warren for a 40 yard score and took what looked to be a commanding 26-7 advantage with 9 minutes, 42 seconds to play in the half.

Danville’s defense bent but didn’t break throughout the first half, but it was finally LCA’s defense that allowed them to get the ball back and score just before the half.

On fourth down-and-one, Harris fumbled while giving a second effort to get a first down, and LCA recovered at the Eagles’ 49.

“I will never fault a kid for giving an extra effort, and (Harris) was working his butt off to get a first down,” Clevenger said. “But they gained momentum after that and we never could recover. We played on our heals, coached on our heals and we could never get anything going offensively until we got behind.”

Six plays later, backup quarterback Braydon Miller, who connected on 9 of 18 passes for 172 yards and one score, hit Drayden Burton over the middle for a 33 yard catch to trim the Ads lead to 26-14 at the half.

That was the start of 28 straight points for the Eagles, who dominated the third period in terms of time of possession (8 minutes to 4), but could manage only one score in the frame.

Dmauriae Van Cleave’s interception prevented one score, but Wheatley scored three times in the fourth quarter to give the Eagles a 42-33 advantage with 1:52 to play.

Walker would be on the receiving end on a 2-yard reception from Dampier to trim the lead to 42-40, but LCA recovered the onside kick to hold onto to the win.

The loss means Danville will be a two seed going into the playoffs with at least one home game.

“We’ll come back to work Monday and try to get better,” the Danville coach said. “We would have loved to have won the game and had the one seed, but we could still play (LCA) again in a few weeks.”

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