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Danville tops Hazard, 27-15

By MARTY WARREN

Contributing Writer

HAZARD – It took only one series of downs to realize that Danville was the quicker and more physical team at Hazard here Friday night. 

After quarterback Garrett Miller completed a couple of passes over the middle of Danville’s defense on the Bulldogs opening series, the Admirals defense lived in the backfield and harassed a trio of quarterbacks the rest of the game and opened its season with a 27-15 win at Perry County Central High School.

Offensively, junior running back Caleb Burns nearly had his third 200-yard rushing game of his career, only to have a four-yard loss on his final carry put him under the mark. Overall, he ran for 198 yards a pair of scores, while sophomore quarterback Sage Dawson connected with Corydon Crawford for a pair of scores to lead the Admirals to the win. 

Hazard (0-2) had a negative 11 yards rushing during the first half and finished the game with just 10 yards on 23 attempts. 

That caught Danville head coach Clay Clevenger’s attention.

“Our run defense played really well all night,” the Danville coach said. “We dominated the line of scrimmage up front and we didn’t let them get their run game established. I don’t know how many sacks we ended up with, but it seemed like we had someone in the backfield the whole game.”

Miller, who completed 16 of 23 passes for 203 yards and two scores, completed a pair of passes over the middle during the Bulldogs first series, but Danville made an adjustment and the pass over the middle wasn’t open the rest of the game.

“We had not what I call breakdowns in the secondary. They just had kids that made some plays,” Clevenger said. “We had guys in position to make the plays. We just had a few plays where we had kids just not compete for the ball..On the plays over the middle early in the game, we had linebackers that just weren’t getting the depth they needed. It was the space between the linebackers and the safeties and once we adjusted we did a pretty good job.”

An interception by senior defensive back Bryce Johnson at the Ads’ 48 set up Danville’s first score. 

Two plays following the theft, Dawson connected with a wide open Crawford for a 52-yard score. Zachary Morgan tacked on the conversion for a 7-0 lead.

“Sage is throwing the ball much better,” Clevenger said. “We had a couple deep throws that were just barely overthrown but he did a good job for the most part.”

Danville added one more score after an impressive 50 yard run by Burns, who appeared to be brought down on three different occasions before being tackled at the Hazard 3. He scored on the next play to give the Ads a 13-0 halftime lead.

“That was one of the better runs he has ever had. He has that capability anytime during a  game.”

Hazard’s Jonah Helm drilled a 37 yard field goal to trim the lead to 13-3 in the third quarter before Danville countered with an impressive 15 play, 68 yard drive that took  seven minutes, 12 seconds off the clock to take a 20-3 advantage into the fourth quarter.

Dawson capped the drive with a four yard scoring toss to Crawford.

Miller had touchdown passes of 12 yards to Andrew Ford and 57 yards to Max Johnson in the fourth frame while Danville had a seven play, 68 yard drive — all on the ground — and scored on Burns’ 18 yard run.

BURNING IT UP: Burns nearly had his third career 200 yard rushing game, but lost four yards on his final carry of the night to finish with 198 yards. He rushed for 227 yards in last season’s opener against John Hardin and a career high 280 yards against Washington County.

LIVING IN THE BACKFIELD: The Danville defense had eight rushing plays and four  passing plays go for negative yardage.

NEXT UP:  The State’s leading rusher and scorer in 2019, Wayne County’s Braedon Sloan and the Wayne Cardinals (1-1), come to Admiral Stadium next Friday to meet the Admirals. A torrential downpour cancelled last year’s game in the second quarter at Monticello.

SCORING SUMMARY

First Quarter

Danville – Corydon Crawford 52 pass from Sage Dawson (Zachary Morgan kick), 5:16.

Second Quarter

Danville — Caleb Burns 3 run (pass failed), 1:38.

Third Quarter

Hazard — FG,Jonah Helm 37, 7:48.

Danville — Crawford 4 pass from Dawson (Morgan kick), :36.

Fourth Quarter

Hazard — Andrew Ford 12 pass from Garrett Miller (kick failed), 9:35.

Danville — Burns 18 run (Morgan kick), 3:08.

Hazard — Max Johnson 57 pass from Miller (pass failed), 2:51.