Danville’s Carson Persing Leads Team in Win Over Hughesville
DANVILLE – Having several athletes that are capable of making big plays whenever they touch the ball can help a team overcome shortcomings, such as having a new opponent scheduled on just 48 hours notice, leaving little time for preparation.
That was the situation that awaited both Hughesville and Danville, as both schools had their originally scheduled opponent cancel on them on Thursday morning – Wellsboro for Hughesville and Lewisburg for Danville – due to COVID cases in those two schools. As a result, this game was scheduled for Saturday evening on just Thursday afternoon.
Given the short turnaround, it was Danville that made the most plays, and it was Carson Persing that provided the spark, as he scored three touchdowns, and amassed 224 all-purpose yards, as Danville overcame some sloppiness to run away from Hughesville with a 51-7 win on Saturday night.
“I was proud of the kids for adjusting with 48 hours’ notice,” said Danville coach Mike Brennan. “We had a totally different plan. It wasn’t the prettiest thing but it was a solid win and just being able to compete tonight gave us a chance to improve for next week.”
Persing hauled in seven passes for 91 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The junior became Danville’s all-time leader in career receptions with his 125th catch in the second half. He also had a pair of punt returns that went 50 yards each, including one for a touchdown, and finished with 133 return yards.
“He does a lot and he gets better and works at it every single day,” said Brennan. “Whether it’s in the weight room or the training room, whatever his task, he does it well, and between the lines, it shows. He’s a talented young man and a hard worker and I’m glad he’s on our team.”
His initial 50-yard punt return came after Hughesville went three-and-out on its first possession of the game. That set up Danville at the Hughesville 5-yard line, and four plays later, on fourth down, Zach Gordon found Hayden Winn in the corner of the end zone.
After another three-and-out by the Spartans, Danville started its next drive at the Hughesville 25, and once again, on fourth down, came up with a touchdown, this one on a three-yard reception by Persing.
Hughesville again failed to get a first down on its next possession and was forced to punt from their own 16. The punt was blocked by Bronson Krainak, who along with Mason Raup both got to the punter, and Raup recovered the blocked kick in the end zone for a touchdown.
From there, Hughesville put together its only scoring drive of the night, a long 13-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a JJ Gabel one-yard run. It was sustained by four Danville penalties, three of which resulted in first downs. The Ironmen committed 10 penalties in the first half alone for 96 yards, which was more than Hughesville managed in total offense (51) in the opening half. But, Danville managed to clean that up in the second half, committing just one second-half penalty.
“The penalties were uncharacteristic of us and so were some the errors,” said Brennan. “We’re a young football team. There are times when we have a load of young kids on the field defensively. We start with eight underclassmen on both sides of the ball. I do feel like we’re continually getting better and I’m proud of them tonight for pulling it together, but certainly, it wasn’t as good of a performance as we’ll need in the weeks to come.”
Following Hughesville’s touchdown, the Ironmen answered right back, as Persing hauled in his second and Gordon’s third touchdown pass of the night, a 25-yard reception. Gordon had a strong night as he completed 12-of-16 passes for 127 yards to go with his three scoring tosses.
Danville added a 27-yard field goal by Aaron Johnson just before halftime to take a 30-7 lead into the break.
Hughesville was held to -19 rushing yards in the first half, and -25 on the ground for the game. Danville held the Spartans to just 134 total yards in the game, as Hughesville did hit a few big plays through the air, getting seven completions for 10 yards or more, which can tend to happen when a team’s offense is made one dimensional.
“We had some guys out tonight and we came in a little short-handed, but big plays killed us,” said Hughesville coach Howard Rainey. “They took us completed out of our running game. we did have some bright spots but some more than weren’t so bright. Our passing game was there and it was the first time it was actually working.”
Danville made some more big plays in the second half to extend the lead. They made it 37-7 on their first second-half drive as Ty Stauffer went in from nine yards out, which followed a big 46-yard scamper. He finished with 106 yards on 13 carries.
Persing’s 50-yard punt return for a touchdown with 3:53 left in the third quarter pushing the game into the mercy rule. Danville wasn’t done with explosive plays just yet, either, as Johnson burst loose for a 52-yard touchdown run at the end of the third quarter.
Both teams then largely played their JV teams in the fourth quarter with a running clock.
For Hughesville, although they were grateful to get a game in and were able to showcase some improvement, especially in their passing game, it was a bit frustrating having to switch from a game that they felt they had a chance at winning in a 2A team in Wellsboro, to having to play a Class 3A state semifinalist from last year. Although the Spartans fell to 0-3 with the loss, Rainey feels his team is turning the corner.
“A couple of our guys were a little nervous because we had never beaten Danville, so they came into it with the wrong attitude,” said Rainey. “It is a building year and all knew that and we’ve got some bright spots but we did think we’d be doing a lot better by now. I do think we’re going to come out of it ok, it’s just going to take getting their confidence up.
Danville 51, Hughesville 7
Hughesville (0-3) 0 7 0 0 – 7
Danville (3-0) 20 10 21 0 – 51
9:32 – (D) Hayden Winn 5-yard pass from Zach Gordon (Johnson kick), 4-5, 1:03
5:52 – (D) Carson Persing 3-yard pass from Zach Gordon (kick blocked), 5-25, 2:30
4:08 – (D) Mason Raup blocked punt recovered in end zone (Johnson kick)
10:00 – (H) JJ Gabel 1-yard run (Fowler kick), 13-70, 6:08
6:58 – (D) Carson Persing 25-yard pass from Zach Gordon (Johnson kick), 7-66, 3:02
:05 – (D) Aaron Johnson 27-yard field goal, 13-65, 3:55
10:45 – (D) Ty Stauffer 9-yard run (Johnson kick), 4-65, 1:15
3:53 – (D) Carson Persing 50-yard punt return (Johnson kick)
1:19 – (D) Aaron Johnson 52-yard run (Hoffman kick), 1-52, :12
First downs 13 19
Rushes-net yards 24-(-25) 28-184
Passing yardage 159 205
Passing 14-30-0-1 16-21-3-0
Fumbles-lost 3-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 5-36 11-101
RUSHING — Hughesville: Joey Swink (12-(-23)), Justin Fowler (4-(-5)), Kelby Gordner (3-5), JJ Gabel (2-2-1), Tyler Wetzel (1-0), Luke Kaiser (1-0), TEAM (1-(-1)); Danville: Ty Stauffer (13-106-1), Aaron Johnson (4-76-1), Zach Gordon (3-4), Kory King (3-4), Jack Gibson (2-(-3)), Carter Coombe (1-7), Sam Meloy (1-1), Madden Patrick (1-(-11))
PASSING — Hughesville: Joey Swink (10-23-112-0-1), Tyler Wetzel (3-5-46-0-0), Blake Davis (1-2-1-0-0); Danville: Zach Gordon (12-16-127-3-0), Madden Patrick (4-5-78-0-0)
RECEIVING — Hughesville: Tyler Wetzel (5-77), Angelo Ferrigno (4-25), Justin Fowler (3-47), Brennan Hartman (1-9), Joey Swink (1-1); Danville: Carson Persing (7-91-2), Aaron Johnson (5-72), Hayden Winn (2-14-1), Luke Huron (1-19), Ethan Morrison (1-9)
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