Danville slows state’s leading rusher, comes from behind for 28-24 win
By MARTY WARREN
Danville had to come from behind twice and hold the state’s leading rusher 40 yards under his season average to pick up a 28-24 win over Wayne County Friday night at Admiral Stadium.
“Our defensive front did a great job but it was a total team effort,” Danville coach Clay Clevenger said. “We knew (Braedon Sloan) was going to get a couple runs on us, but we needed to limit what he was able to get. He’s a really good running back that is physical and runs hard. We also knew they were going to keep feeding him the ball. We couldn’t let one play break our back.”
Sloan gained just 186 yards and scored twice on runs of 45 and 47 yards, but he had to work hard for every yard he got.
Wayne, who came into the game averaging 41.5 points per game, received excellent field position after a fake punt on Danville’s opening possession backfired and the Cardinals took over in excellent field position at the Ads’ 31.
Faced with fourth down at the Danville 14, senior quarterback Brody Weaver connected with Carson Simpson on a slant pattern for the score. The PAT failed, though, leaving the score at 6-0.
Wayne (1-2) would score again after a short punt when Sloan went 45 yards untouched up the middle for a 13-0 lead.
Danville, however, would counter that score with a 69 yard, 9 play drive to cut the lead to 13-7.
A 10-yard pass to Bryce Johnson, plus passes of 8 and 19 yards to Crawford put the drive in motion and Caleb Burns, who led the Ads’ with 40 yards on 11 attempts, scored from 18 yards out to trim the lead to 13-7 at the half.
Burns, who led the Ads’ with 40 yards on 11 attempts, was injured just before the half ended continuing a trend of injuries that Danville just can’t afford.
“We were already down two really good defensive players from last week going into the game, then lost Caleb at halftime,” the Danville coach said. “The kids already had that look in their eyes and realized he wasn’t coming back and we just challenged them. That’s all we did. We told them they could feel sorry for themselves or they could stick their neck out there and just go play. We told them to come out and make plays and we would see what happens. They responded the right way. They came out in the second half and responded well enough to get the win.”
Wayne would increase its lead to 16-7 after a 25-yard field goal by Patrick Radilla but Danville would counter in two plays.
Sophomore quarterback Sage Dawson, who completed 15 of 20 passes for 214 yards, connected with Bryce Johnson for 11 yards on the first play, then hit Crawford in the flat, and he made one move before outrunning everyone for a 45-yard score to cut the lead to 16-14.
“Everyone has to realize that Sage is just a sophomore,” Clevenger said. “We really challenged him in practice this week to put more touch on his passes. He threw catchable passes tonight. He did a good job on our underneath stuff and allowed our receivers to make plays.”
Crawford had eight catches for 133 yards and ran for 17 yards while Johnson had six catches for 74 yards.
“(Crawford) is our playmaker and we have to get him the ball,” Clevenger added. “I couldn’t be happier for Bryce. He is a kid that has struggled some the last couple years catching the ball. I can’t be more proud of him. He is one of the most coachable kids on the team. He is playing great on defense for us, but when we needed a big play tonight he came through for us.”
Hagen Burns’ fumble recovery at the Danville 22 put the Ads’ in position to grab their first lead. Passes of 34 and 14 yards to Johnson helped the Ads go 78 yards in 10 plays. Dawson scored on a quarterback draw and senior placekicker Zachary Morgan, in his first season of varsity football, nailed the extra point for a 21-16 lead.
Sloan ran into his own man before reversing field and went 47 yards for a score, then ran for the two-point conversion to give Wayne a 24-21 advantage.
A 22-yard pass to Crawford set the stage for Dawson’s one-yard run and a 28-24 lead with 5 minutes, 50 seconds to play.
Things got interesting in the final minute. With seven seconds to play at the Wayne 45, Clevenger contemplated having Crawford run backward and take a safety on the final play, but after two timeouts had Crawford punt the ball away.
“We thought about it but so many things can go wrong,” Clevenger said. “We finally decided to punt the ball and take out chances.”
Having one last play with :02 on the clock, Wayne got the ball to Sloan on the hook and ladder play. After reversing his field, he was met by Hagen Burns to end the game.
“When they ran the hook and ladder on the final play and he cut it back my heart kind of skipped a beat,” the Danville coach said. “This win was a total team effort. We got a lot of big plays and big minutes from a lot of people.”
WAYNE – Carson Simpson 14 pass from Brody Weaver (kick failed), 7:22.
WAYNE – Braedon Sloan 45 run ( Patrick Radilla kick), 6:46.
DANVILLE – Caleb Burns 18 run (Zachary Morgan kick), 3:28.
WAYNE – FG, Radilla 25, 4:45.
DANVILLE – Corydon Crawford 45 pass from Sage Dawson (Morgan kick), 4:23.
DANVILLE – Dawson 5 run (Morgan kick), 10:54.
WAYNE – Sloan 47 run (Sloan run), 8:47.
DANVILLE – Dawson 1 run (Morgan kick), 5:50.