Neumann-Goretti shuts out Danville to reach Class 3A Football Semifinals
LEHIGHTON – Neumann-Goretti used its size and speed to narrowly defeat an equally sizable and quick and previously undefeated North Schuylkill team last week.
On Friday, just a day after a Thanksgiving day win over South Philadelphia in a rivalry game, the Saints did the same thing again, using their size advantage on both lines and a couple of chunk plays in which their speedy skill players got into space, as Neumann-Goretti advanced to the state semifinals with a 28-0 win over Danville in a PIAA Class 3A quarterfinal.
“I never look at size as being much of an issue. I watched Danville play against Loyalsock and saw a team that got off the football and did a good job dominating the line of scrimmage so we didn’t know if our size would hold weight. They stuffed us on our first two-point play after our first touchdown, so I just think we just made a couple more plays and got a couple of breaks, but that’s a really good football team,” said Neumann-Goretti coach Albie Crosby.
Indeed, Danville entered the game coming off their second straight District 4 championship after defeating Montoursville in the title game for the second straight year last week. The Ironmen made it all the way to the state semifinals last year before falling to eventual state runner-up Wyomissing, so the Ironmen are quickly becoming accustomed to deep postseason runs into late November.
But on this chilly and windy night on a neutral field at Lehighton High School, the Ironmen struggled to get much going offensively. Neumann-Goretti held the Ironmen to just 111 yards of offense, and only 12 yards on the ground. The Ironmen were only able to run 12 of their 47 total plays on Neumann-Goretti’s side of the field, and Danville also turned the ball over three times, though just one led to a Neumann-Goretti score. About the only time Danville had success offensively was when the ball was thrown to Carson Persing, who hauled in eight of Danville’s 10 completed passes for 77 yards. Leading rusher Ty Stauffer, a 1,000-yard rusher this year, was limited to -3 yards on 14 carries.
“We felt like we had to get Stauffer stopped before he got started and if he did get started, we were going to be in trouble,” said Crosby. “We had to figure out how to stop Persing after the first couple of drives after they moved the sticks on us a couple of times. I think when Khari Reid made an interception (late in the second quarter), that kind of changed our confidence.”
“They had more speed than us and more closing speed defensively and when we had some things, we weren’t able to make much inroads because they closed up gaps,” said Danville coach Mike Brennan. “We had some turnovers early on, which is uncharacteristic of us, but offensively we certainly didn’t play well enough to win the game.”
The Ironmen forced three turnovers, and stopped Neumann-Goretti three times on Danville’s side of the field, including once in the red zone and another time on a Persing interception at the Danville 5-yard line just before the half to keep it a two-score game heading into the locker room.
“Defensively, our guys battled all night, did a great job, and played extremely hard. But, we didn’t play a good enough football game against a really good team to win,” said Brennan. “Physically, we were smaller, especially at the guard spot, our tackles were only second-year players, we have a sophomore center, and it showed tonight. We had a hard time controlling their movement and pressure up front, and the same way on the defensive end. Our kids battled and hung in there, but there were times that the size advantage was obvious.”
Danville stopped Neumann-Goretti on the Saints’ first three possessions of the game, overcoming their first turnover on the first play of their second drive. The Ironmen forced a fumble by the Saints and took over the Saint 46-yard line with 3:21 left in the first, but lost another fumble, giving it right back to Neumann-Goretti near midfield.
The Saints then hit on their first big play of the game, a 45-yard reception by Jasir Jefferson from Marqui Adams, which set them up at the Danville 6, and one play later, Shawn Battle punched it in from six yards out for a 6-0 lead.
Danville went three-and-out on their subsequent drive, but a nice 35-yard punt by Garrett Hoffman put the Saints back at their own 35. But the Saints got a 24-yard run by Jayden Styles, followed by a 20-yard run by Adams to flip the field, and four plays later, Battle found the end zone again from 17 yards to make it 14-0 after a successful two-point conversion. Battle had just two touches on the night but made the most of them as he found the end zone both times.
That would be all the scoring in the first half, as the Ironmen stopped the Saints on downs at the Danville 12 on their next drive, and then Persing intercepted Adams with two minutes remaining in the half.
But Neumann-Goretti would dash nearly any hope Danville may have had coming out of halftime, as the Saints recovered an onside kick to start the second half, and then took just two plays – a pair of runs by Jayden Sumpter for 10 and 42 yards – to make it a three-score game, 22-0. That was Sumpter’s biggest play of the night as he led the way for the Saints, amassing 151 yards on the ground on 17 carries, part of a 265-rushing yard performance for Neumann-Goretti.
The Ironmen were forced to punt on their ensuing possession but got the ball back in the Saints’ territory when they recovered a fumble on the punt return. Danville drove down to the Neumann-Goretti 18-yard line but were turned away on a 4th-and-5 play.
From there, the Saints took over and put together their longest drive of the game, both in yards and time, as they went 82 yards on nine plays in 5:17, capped by a six-yard run by Jayden Styles to go up 28-0 with 1:12 remaining in the third quarter.
Danville would drive down to the Saint 28-yard line on its next drive, as they got a 13-yard reception from Mason Raup, an eight-yard reception by Persing, and also benefitted from a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty, one of 14 penalties on the night by the Saints for 135 total yards. But, like its previous drive, the Ironmen turned it over on downs.
“We have to commit to the weight room and get bigger and stronger physically, and we have to continue to work hard at our speed program over the summer,” said Brennan. “We’ve made inroads, but to advance in the state tournament, we need to make obvious changes and develop our kids a little bit differently.”
Neumann-Goretti, meanwhile, advances to play next week at a site and time to be determined against the winner of Saturday’s other eastern quarterfinal matchup between Scranton Prep and Wyomissing.
Neumann-Goretti 28, Danville 0
Neumann-Goretti (12-1) 6 8 14 0 – 28
Danville (8-5) 0 0 0 0 – 0
2:32 – (NG) Shawn Battle 6-yard run (run failed), 3-49, :49
11:14 – (NG) Shawn Battle 17-yard run (Styles pass from Adams), 6-65, 2:06
11:27 – (NG) Jayden Sumpter 42-yard run (Styles run), 2-52, :33
1:12 – (NG) Jayden Styles 6-yard run (run failed), 9-82, 5:17
First downs 19 8
Rushes-net yards 39-265 27-12
Passing yardage 115 99
Passing 8-17-0-1 10-20-0-1
Fumbles-lost 3-2 3-2
Penalties-yards 14-135 4-18
RUSHING — Neumann-Goretti: Jayden Sumpter (17-151-1), Jayden Styles (12-61-1), Marqui Adams (3-26), Jasir Jefferson (3-4), Shawn Battle (2-23-2), Makai Davis-Smith (2-0) Danville: Ty Stauffer (14-(-3)), Zach Gordon (6-3), Madden Patrick (5-4), Aaron Johnson (1-7), Carson Persing (1-1)
PASSING — Neumann-Goretti: Marqui Adams (8-17-115-0-1); Danville: Zach Gordon (5-10-72-0-1), Madden Patrick (5-10-27-0-0)
RECEIVING — Neumann-Goretti: Jasir Jefferson (3-56), Kevin Thomas (3-37), Colton Calleung (2-22); Danville: Carson Persing (8-77), Mason Raup (1-13), Hayden Winn (1-9)
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