CENTERBURG — Sometimes, it takes just one spark to ignite a large fire.
Danville’s Casey Sloan blocked a Centerburg punt early in the third quarter, then the Blue Devils rode that momentum to a 38-21 victory over host Centerburg in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game Friday.
Centerburg used two big plays to take a 21-14 lead at halftime, then were moving the ball down the field in the opening drive of the third quarter when the wheels fell off. Two sacks and a big penalty put Centerburg in a fourth and 46 situation. Sloan broke through the right side and blocked the Trojan punt, setting Danville up at the Centerburg 14-yard line. Two runs by Heath Buckingham and then a two-point conversion run and Danville was in the lead.
“This is a real good win. We needed that after two rough weeks,” said Danville head coach Ed Honabarger. “I think we got sort of fired up on that inadvertent whistle. We recovered a fumble and there was an inadvertent whistle. We got a sack, they had a penalty, and they had third and 43. It looked like a light switch went off.”
“We were doing pretty good in the second half moving the ball. And then we came out and had some penalties and some frustration set it. There’s not many plays you can call on third and 43,” said Centerburg head coach Jim Stoyle. “I think that set the tone in the second half and it snowballed from there. We lost our focus a little bit.”
The Trojans (1-5 overall, 0-3 MBC) went for it on fourth down at midfield the next series, but Danville (4-2, 1-2) stopped them proving the momentum had turned for good.
Behind the running game of Buckingham, the Devils marched down the field. The touchdown came on a fourth down at the 14 when Marcus Durbin hit Zach Brewer in the left corner of the end zone.
Danville added another score, on another fourth down play, midway through the fourth quarter when Durbin hit Quinton Ferenbaugh on a 16-yard strike.
“I think some of our drives demoralized them. We just methodically pounded on them,” Honabarger said. “Heath Buckingham ran well. I think those drives just took a lot out of them.”
Centerburg mounted just one significant drive the rest of the second half, but Brewer intercepted a Drew Osborne pass at the goal line to stop the drive.
Both teams came out on fire to begin the game. Centerburg recovered a fumble by Danville’s Brewer on the opening kickoff, then scored on the first play from scrimmage when Osborne hit Jacob Teale on a 22-yard strike.
Danville marched right back down the field, going 65 yards on 10 plays. Brewer scored from 8 yards out on a fourth down play. The two-point conversion gave Danville the lead.
The Trojans then got a great play from Luke Nelson midway through the first quarter. Danville’s Marcus Durbin went back to pass, but was pressured by Nelson. Durbin tried to throw the ball over Nelson, but the 6-foot-2 senior reached up and grabbed the ball out of midair and raced 12 yards for the score.
“We moved the ball decent in the first half. But, then we fumbled the ball and threw the interception. You can’t do that. You can’t spot a team points like that,” Honabarger said. “But, we did not panic. We just kept playing hard.”
The Trojans got another big play when Osborne hit Steven Keihl with a 35-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline midway through the second quarter.
“We executed things well early on. There were some bright spots. We had some really good individual efforts and we played hard. It’s just frustrating,” Stoyle said. “It was a combination of our mistakes, our frustration and they just played a pretty darn good football game. At some point, we hope to turn things around. We can’t get over the hump right not. We’re not playing four good quarters.”
Buckingham finished the night with 129 yards rushing to lead a strong and balanced rushing attack from the Blue Devils. Brewer added 64; Shaun Durbin, 59; and Kodey Ball, 51 as the Devils broke the 300-yard barrier (301).
“We knew Buckingham was a good back. He’s a typical, hard-nosed, smash-mouth football player. That’s one kid you’d take on your team any day,” Stoyle said. “He made us miss and punishes the defense. He just wears on you.”
The Devils only threw for 41 yards, but two of those passes were for touchdowns.
Osborne led the Trojans with 220 yards passing. He hit on 14-of-23 passes, but was picked off twice. Logan McGovern caught four of those passes for 78 yards, while Keihl hauled in two passes for 63 yards.
Both teams are on the road Friday. Danville travels to Northridge, while Centerburg heads to Loudonville.