Danville uses the big play to survive at Garrard County
Published 12:03 am Saturday, September 22, 2018
LANCASTER — It wasn’t the way Danville expected to win, but the Admirals left Dyehouse Stadium with a victory.
Garrard County gave the Admirals everything they could ask for in a 28-22 Danville victory.
The Golden Lions worked their gameplan to perfection, holding the ball for more than 37 minutes. They ran 77 offensive plays to Danville’s 28.
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But the Admirals won.
“They did exactly what they came in here to do, and we let them do it,” Danville head coach Clay Clevenger said. “That’s what I told our guys, at some point you’ve got to bow your neck a little bit and try to go make some plays. (Garrard) was doing a good job getting a surge, their backs were running extremely hard. It was almost like a rugby scrum and then they’d squirt out and get two or three yards, then they’d get the one play where they’d get six or seven and keep the sticks moving. They did that to us all night and it does two things, it wears you down and it keeps your offense off of the field.”
Danville’s offense didn’t need to be on the field long to score, and it was evident from the start. Preston Barnes scored the first touchdown of the night — and the first of his career — just over two minutes into the game.
Brennen McGuire had a 65-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and two fourth-quarter scores to give Danville the win.
Garrard’s David Pennington had a five-yard touchdown run to start the second quarter and scored the two-point conversion, putting his team ahead 8-7 early in the second frame. That capped a 19-play drive.
McGuire’s kickoff return was on the ensuing play, and Garrard came back out and ran 12 more plays before running out of steam.
“We had so many plays in a row, we got tired,” Garrard head coach Jerry Perry said. “We wanted to wear them down but we got tired at the same time. We’re running out of running backs, we got another one hurt. David played with a bum shoulder and knee and ankle. Willie Rader played great. We’re running out of running backs, but we saw early that we couldn’t do the other stuff. I thought the kids played their hearts out.”
Pennington finished with 28 carries for 109 yards and two scores; Rader had 30 carries for 159 yards and a score.
At halftime, Danville led 14-8 in a game where the Admirals clearly had a speed advantage but Garrard was winning the war in the trenches.
“We’ve got to get (our offense) on the field,” Clevenger said. “It’s an achilles heel for us defensively, getting off of the field. That’s just guys saying ‘I want to go make a play.’ We don’t have those guys right now. We don’t have guys who are willing to go give a little extra umph and get through the line to make a play, we want to just sit back and be laid back about it. Every game that we’ve lost or almost lost, we’ve not gotten off of the field on third and fourth down. That was the same tonight.”
Garrard finished with 20 first downs to Danville’s seven.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, despite Danville having an opportunity to take a two-score lead. Darrian Bell made a stellar one-handed catch falling down to put his team in field goal range, but two bad snaps forced the Admirals back and Nathan Hazlett’s kick from 47 yards away was wide right.
It was the second big opportunity for Danville to lead by two scores: In the first quarter, Danville’s defense shut down Garrard on its first drive of the game. Danville could’ve gone ahead two scores, but McGuire fumbled — his one mistake on offense — and Garrard would score on the resulting drive.
Clevenger said his team’s mindset on defense needs to change: Does he have the players who can step up and make a stop?
“I think so. I think it’s just a mindset,” he said. “We showed a few glimpses there on that last drive, but we need that in the first and second quarters. We came out and stopped them on their first drive, then we fumble. If you’re up two scores there, it throws (Garrard’s) gameplan out of whack. In the third quarter, we stop them, come down, Darrian Bell makes a great catch, then we have two bad snaps in a row and we miss a field goal. There again, we’re playing their style because we’re not getting points.”
Garrard led 16-14 after a seven-yard run in the fourth quarter, and the Admirals promptly marched down and McGuire scored his second of the night. Zach Thornton ran in the two-point conversion as Danville took a 22-14 lead with 10:23 left.
Garrard would take the next nine minutes off of the clock, pounding the ball down to the Danville five yard line.
Clevenger called timeout and gave his team its instructions.
“We told our guys, let them score,” he said. “They were on the five yard line, we hadn’t stopped them all night and we were up six. I said we’re going to let them score and then we’ve got to stop the two-point, and at worst we’re playing in overtime. But I said I don’t think they can stop us if they do that. Obviously Zach made a good throw, Brennen made a good catch and it worked out for us.”
Perry regretted that he didn’t take a knee with the ball on the Danville five yard line and under two minutes to play.
“I almost took a knee down here, I wish I had and just make it a two-play or one-play game,” he said. “We just don’t match up speed wise, it is what it is. The kids played their hearts out and I thought they executed very well.”
Pennington would score to tie the game 22-22, then Danville needed just two plays for Thornton and McGuire to hook up for an 85-yard score with 47 seconds left.
Perry said he thought his team took a step forward with effort, but penalties and other mistakes have to be cleaned up before district play in two weeks.
“We still have way too many mistakes. When you’re a team like us, you can’t have those silly penalties that put you behind the chains. You put yourself in a position where you can’t get a first down. You’ve got to gain two or three yards. You want to gain two at least, gain three, gain four. You’ve got four plays. Four two’s ain’t a first down but four threes is. Two twos, two threes, first down. We have to play that way. We have to make the clock run and make it a phone-booth game. That’s what we tried to do.”
Danville will take its playmakers into another big-school matchup next week at Tates Creek, while Garrard County is on bye before visiting Boyle County to open district play.
Danville 7 7 0 14 – 28
Garrard County 0 8 0 14 – 22
Danville – Preston Barnes 4 pass from Zach Thornton (Nathan Hazlett kick), 9:38.
Garrard – David Pennington 5 run (Pennington run), 9:29.
Danville – Brennen McGuire 65 kickoff return (Hazlett kick), 9:18.
Garrard – Willie Rader 7 run (Rader run), 11:53.
Danville – McGuire 5 run (Thornton run), 10:23.
Garrard – Pennington 4 run (pass failed), 1:29.
Danville – McGuire 85 pass from Thornton (run failed), :47.
First downs 9 20
Rushes-Yds 17-98 74-281
Passing Yds 174 0
Total Yards 272 281
Comp-Att-Int 9-11-0 0-3-1
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 1-0
Penalties-Yds 4-33 9-49
Total Plays 28 77
Time of Poss. 10:50 37:10
RUSHING- Danville, Thornton 2-43, Isiah Miller 4-36, Warren Griffin 3-11, Brennan McGuire 5-22, Team 3-(minus 14). Garrard, David Pennington 28-109, Christian Hansford 8-17, Jacob Hacker 2-10, Willie Rader 30-159, Bryce Burkhart 4-(minus 8) Team 2-(minus 2).
PASSING – Danville, Thornton 9-11-0-174, Garrard, Burkhart 0-3-1-0.
RECEIVING – Danville, McGuire 7-137, Darrian Bell 1-33, Preston Barnes 1-4.