He’s never one to complain about a victory, even another come-from-behind win. Yet Danville coach Sam Harp knows his Admirals can't continue to do what they have done over the last two weeks and keep winning for long.
“We have not played with the same focus and intensity since we beat Boyle County (two weeks ago). That is what it is. At some point we’ve got to put that behind us and move on,” Harp said. “I would like to think it was not homecoming activities and the dance that hurt our focus, but maybe that was part of it. I’m glad we won and want the kids to have fun tonight. Then we have to get to work, because we can’t play like this and win at Green County or beat Somerset.”
Still, Danville did overcome a 7-0 deficit to beat Southwestern 31-7 Friday at Admiral Stadium — the fourth straight week the Admirals have come from behind to win.
“At least we have been coming back. I would like to finally get the lead in a game and see what happens. But at least we don’t panic when we get behind,” Harp said.
He also gave credit to Southwestern, which lost 48-2 to Somerset three weeks ago, for surprising the Admirals with the offense it used to open the game after the Warriors recovered an onside kick — “We talked about that specifically after Southwestern won the toss and deferred taking the ball to the second half,” Harp said — and drove 51 yards in eight plays behind the running of Logan Campisano, who shredded Danville tacklers to score on a 4-yard run.
“We did not expect any of that stuff they did early,”¿Harp said. “We did not adjust well. We finally went to an odd(-man) front, something we had not done for a while. But the part that was the most disappointing was the tackling. We did not tackle well at all.”
That’s why Southwestern (2-2)¿ran 35 players the first half to 12 for Danville (4-1). The Admirals had just 37 total yards and one first down in the first half, but still had an 8-7 lead.
Sophomore Ray Bradshaw blocked Devon Baker’s punt to give them the ball at the Southwestern 25-yard line, and three plays later sophomore Tyquan Matthews burst through the middle to score on a 20-yard run. Bradshaw took a quick snap and ran for a two-point conversion that gave Danville an 8-7 led with 3 minutes, 22 seconds left in the first half.
Danville lineman Antonio Baca recovered a Southwestern fumble to thwart one scoring drive, and the Danville defense forced two punts to let the Admirals escape with that 8-7 lead at halftime.
Harp made one significant change to start the third quarter. He inserted quarterback Devonta Alcorn into the secondary, and Alcorn forced a big loss on Southwestern’s fifth play. Three plays later Jawan Grey broke free, used a last block by Ace Ray and rambled 46 yards for a touchdown that gave Danville a 15-7 lead.
“I saw the look in Devonta’s eyes at halftime and saw the fire he had,”¿Harp said. “I felt like we needed his energy on defense. He made things happen quickly, too. We are trying to keep him rested and healthy for offense, but he had a good second half and we needed him to help change the tone of the game.”
Danville linebacker Thorne Koci tackled Southwestern punter Devon Baker in the end zone after a snap sailed over Baker’s head to make it 17-7 lead with 6:02 left in period three.
“Koci is aggressive, and when he had a chance to make the play, he did,” Harp said.
Ray’s 24-yard kickoff return set up a 37-yard scoring drive that Alcorn finished with a 2-yard plunge into the middle. Holder Chris Davis threw to Ray for the conversion that gave the Admirals a 25-7 lead with 1:42 to go in the third quarter.
“We just take what is there (on the conversions),” Harp said. “(Assistant) coach (Jerry) Perry calls those, and I’m glad he did. We want to take advantage of what is there, and we did.”
Alcorn, who ran for 84 yards on seven carries, had a 25-yard run early in period four, then broke free for a 37-yard touchdown jaunt with 6:27 to play to cap the scoring.
“I really didn’t think Southwestern could stop us,”¿Harp said. “I am proud that we came back and played much better in the second half. That was encouraging. But we have to get our attention and focus back. We had trouble getting guys on the field at times. We had some fumbles. We made some little mistakes you just can’t make.”
Danville finished with just 236 total yards on only 33 plays, while Southwestern had 64 plays but only 186 total yards.
Harp also continued his trend of playing numerous players and constantly shuttling fresh players into the game.
“We have to keep doing that. We have young kids that need experience, and we have key players that we just can’t wear out midway of the season,” Harp said. “To build depth, you have to give kids a chance to play, and we are going to keep doing that.”
After playing three of four games at home and the other one at Boyle, the Admirals hit the road to play at Green County this Friday. Following a week off, they’ll then open district play with a Class AA showdown against No. 1 Somerset on Oct. 5.
“It’s not easy playing at Green. We’ll have to be at our best physically, mentally and emotionally to got there and win, because it’s always difficult to win there,”¿Harp said. “Somerset will have the best defense we will face this year. That’s why we have to get better. It’s nice to win, but we have to put that win over Boyle behind us and get back to playing the way we can.”
Southwestern 7 0 0 0 — 7
Danville 8 0 17 6 — 31
Southwestern — Logan Campisano 4 run (Devon Baker kick), 9:00.
Danville — Tyquan Matthews 20 run (Damir Karapandzic kick), 3:22.
Danville — Jawan Grey 46 run (Karapandzic kick), 7:32.
Danville — Safety, 6:02.
Danville — Devonta Alcorn 2 run (Ace Ray pass from Chris Davis), 1:42.
Danville — Alcorn 37 run (kick failed), 6:27.
First downs 11 10
Rushes-yards 55-159 27-217
Passing 27 22
Total Net Yards 186 239
Comp-Att-Int 2-9-0 4-7-0
Fumbles-Lost 4-1 4-0
Penalties-Yards 3-19 5-45
RUSHING—Southwestern, Logan Campisano 26-123, Austin Smiddy 19-34, Jordan Maggard 9-25, team 1-minus 23. Danville, Jawan Grey 8-72, Devonta Alcorn 7-84, Tyquan Matthews1-20, Damani Del Rosario 4-19, Ray Bradshaw 4-16, Jadarius Brown 3-6, Olyjawan Ford 1-1, Chris Davis 2-minus 1.
PASSING—Southwestern, Smiddy 2-9-0-27. Danville, Alcorn 3-6-0-19, Chris Davis 1-1-0-3.
RECEIVING—Southwestern, Wyatt Karter 1-16, Devon Baker 1-11. Danville, Ace Ray 3-17, Josh Singleton 1-5.