Danville rolls to District 4 title game
DANVILLE – After dropping a 26-21 game earlier this season to the Loyalsock Lancers, the Danville Ironmen entered Friday night with something to prove and revenge in their minds.
The home team took care of business easily. Despite falling behind early, the Danville offense – led by its rushing attack – thrived in an easy 42-21 victory in District 4 Class 3A semi-finals.
“The first time we played these guys I thought we were a little flat,” stated Danville coach Mike Brennan following the game. “We didn’t feel really confident, we weren’t healthy, we had offensive opportunities that we missed. A lot of things happened that night that despite how poorly we played it was only a one-score game. We felt that tonight would be really important to run the football. We played with a pass-first mentality back in Week 4. When we establish the run we seem to be a better football team.”
Danville advances to the District 4 Class AAA championship game next week against Montoursville (7-5). The Warriors topped Milton by a final score of 17-14 to reach the title game.
Loyalsock opened the game with early momentum and looked like it would be a tough team to beat. The Lancers won the opening coin toss and elected to receive, driving the ball nearly effortlessly down the field before back-to-back false start penalties derailed the team’s fast start. Facing 3rd-and-3 at the Danville 10-yard line, the penalties backed the Lancers up to a 3rd-and-13 from the Danville 20.
After failing to convert, the Loyalsock defense made a stand. The visitors forced a three-and-out on Danville’s first possession of the game and got the ball right back in its offense’s hands. Six short plays later, Loyalsock was in the endzone on a 20-yard catch and run from quarterback Tyler Gee to wide receiver Naz Smith.
Down 7-0, Danville struck right back. On a drive assisted by a pair of Loyalsock penalties, Danville got the game back to all square on a rushing touchdown by quarterback Zach Gordon.
Gordon ended up running for an impressive four touchdowns in the game, carrying the ball 12 times for 54 yards and the four scores.
“We had a bye week coming into tonight and we told our line that we weren’t going to play around. We were going to run the ball.” said Gordon. “We really challenged (the offensive line) to get out, get physical and open up holes. They did a great job.”
Danville never trailed in the game again following Gordon’s first touchdown and took its first lead on its very next drive. Following a short Loyalsock drive, Danville drove 68 yards on nine plays, scoring on Gordon’s second rushing score of the night to go up 14-7 mid-way through the second quarter.
In a crucial turning point of the game, Danville scored a touchdown in the waning seconds of the first half to take a 21-7 lead into the halftime break, while also in line to receive the opening kickoff of the second half.
With 1:42 remaining on the clock and all three timeouts, Danville marched down the field thanks to a few big running plays by Gordon and running back Ty Stauffer. On 2nd-and-10 from the Loyalsock 27-yard line, Gordon dropped back and connected with Carson Persing on a deep slant in the endzone with just six seconds remaining before halftime.
“That was a great drive,” said Brennan of the clutch touchdown. “We used a timeout to get the ball back to hopefully have a chance to score. I was impressed by our offensive line protection there. (Gordon) was pretty much untouched that entire drive. That throw and that catch by Carson (Persing) was executed well.”
Danville also took advantage of receiving the second half kickoff, scoring yet again on a quick six-play drive. On Danville’s first play of the second half. Stauffer took a delayed handoff and bounced to the right for a 44-yard run. The scoring drive culminated with Gordon’s third rushing score of the night.
Stauffer led all ball carriers in the game, collecting 28 carries and converting them into 205 rushing yards.
Leading 28-7, the game seemed fairly out of reach for Loyalsock, but with all the momentum flowing in Danville’s direction, the Lancers were able to make a stop and score a touchdown on their own to cut the lead to just two scores.
Loyalsock quarterback Taylor Gee connected with tight end Brendan Clark for a 10-yard gain and then watched running back Davion Hill rip off his biggest run of the night – a 21-yard jaunt – to set Loyalsock up inside the Danville 10-yard line. Following an offside penalty, Hill found the endzone on a three-yard score.
Hill led the Loyalsock rushing attack on the night, managing 13 carries for 62 yards and a score before leaving late with an injury.
Danville didn’t allow Loyalsock’s third-quarter score to let the Lancers back in the game. The Ironmen bounced right back to score another touchdown of their own. On the first play of Danville’s ensuing drive, Aaron Johnson ripped off a 30-yard run that set the Ironmen up in scoring position. Four plays later Stauffer plowed into the endzone from three yards out to put Danville up 35-14.
Danville tacked on another score – Gordon’s fourth rushing touchdown – in the fourth quarter. Following a Loyalsock turnover Stauffer ran the ball down to the Loyalsock five-yard line where Stauffer finished off the drive.
A late Loyalsock game made the final score appear closer than things may have seen. Gee connected with his tight end, Clark for a two-yard score as time waned down in the final quarter.
Gee – a sophomore quarterback for Loyalsock – finished the game completing 20 of 30 pass attempts for 241 yards and a pair of passing touchdowns.
For Loyalsock, the season ends with an overall record of 7-5.
Danville improved to 7-4 overall with the victory and takes on Montoursville (7-5) for the District 4 Class AAA crown next week. Back in Week 6, Danville topped Montoursville by a score of 35-14 at Ironmen Stadium.
Danville hopes to take care of business once again in the rematch.
“I know we beat (Montoursville) pretty easily in the regular season,” said Gordon. “I don’t want us to get too high. We need to show up and win. We need to have a good week at practice and then come ready to play.”
Danville 42, Loyalsock 21
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Loyalsock 7 0 7 7 – 21
Danville 7 14 14 7 – 42
L—Naz Smith 20-yard reception from Tyler Gee (Evan Anderson PAT Good), 4:06.
D—Zach Gordon 1-yard run (Aaron Johnson PAT Good), 0:27.
D—Gordon 15-yard run (Johnson PAT Good), 6:25.
D—Carson Persing 27-yard reception from Gordon (Johnson PAT Good), 0:06.
D—Gordon 1-yard run (Johnson PAT Good), 9:09.
L—Davion Hill 3-yard run (Anderson PAT Good), 3:42.
D—Ty Stauffer 3-yard run (Johnson PAT Good), 0:37.
D—Gordon 5-yard run (Johnson PAT Good), 4:35.
L—Brendan Clark 2-yard reception from Gee (Anderson PAT Good), 2:46.
TEAM STATISTICS L D
First downs 15 16
Total yards 315 439
Rushes-yards 21-74 51-356
Yards passing 241 83
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 20-30-0 6-13-0
Fumbles-lost 2-2 0-0
Penalties-yards 12-93 8-48
RUSHING—Loyalsock: Hill 13-62 TD, Gee 7-15, TEAM 1-(-3). Danville: Stauffer 28-205 TD, Johnson 7-75, Gordon 12-54 4TD, Mason Raup 1-10, Persing 1-7, Cameron Kiersch 1-6, TEAM 1-(-1).
PASSING—Loyalsock: Gee 20-30 241 yards 2 TD. Danville: Gordon 6-13 83 yards TD.
RECEIVING—Loyalsock: Rian Glunk 8-120, Smith 2-46 TD, Hill 6-45, Clark 3-24 TD, JerVal Weeks-Shuler 1-6. Danville: Johnson 1-33, Persing 3-30 TD, Hayden Winn 1-16, Raup 1-4.
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