CENTERBURG — The 100th football game between the Danville Blue Devils (0-5, 0-2 KMAC) and the Centerburg Trojans (3-2, 1-1 KMAC), at Centerburg High School on Friday night, was filled with opportunity. It was all a matter of who was able cash in.
The Trojans took advantage of six Danville turnovers, putting up a pair of touchdowns in each of the final three quarters of the game to win going away, 50-7, in Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference action.
It took a while for the Trojans to figure out Danville’s offensive scheme, but Centerburg went up early, 7-0, on Donnell Marshall 31-yard run for a touchdown. Marshall ran the ball 24 times for 133 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“Our line pushes our offense,” Marshall said. “Even when things aren’t going right, they keep it up and keep us in the game.”
In the meantime, the Blue Devils offense sputtered and stalled, fumbling the ball four times in the first half. Although they hung on to three of the fumbles, they lost yardage and dug a hole for themselves. It was a tough night for Danville, who only managed 175 total yards.
The Trojans couldn’t capitalize on the one recovered fumble in the first half. They did better on an interception by Centerburg defensive back Hayden Sutton, who ran it all the way back to the Danville 11 at the start of the second quarter. The Trojans’ offense failed to score, but the Devils, who got the ball deep in their own territory, could do nothing either. Danville wound up punting from its own endzone, but the ball was snapped over Danville punter Nick O’Dell’s head. Although O’Dell was the first one to get to the ball, it had gone out the back of the endzone for a Centerburg safety.
Centerburg got the ball back and its offense finally revved up when quarterback Jack Gregory found teammate Gavin Wilson on a 51-yard catch and run to stretch out the Trojans’ lead to 15-0. Gregory was 12-for-23 for 179 yards and a pair of touchdown passes in the game.
“Our line played really well,” Gregory said. “They gave us time to throw the ball. They did a really good job out there. Our defense played great too — four interceptions.”
With 3:34 to play and half, Marshall ran the ball 19 yards down to the Danville 2-yard line, setting up a short touchdown run to give the Trojans a 22-0 halftime advantage. The Trojans totaled 271 rushing yards.
“We came out a little sluggish,” said Centerburg coach Andy Colella. “It took us a while to get in the groove, but we eventually got in there, figured it out and we started to roll at that point — on both sides of the ball.”
In the third quarter, the Blue Devils were backed up in their own territory at their one yard line. Unable to do anything, the Devils punted giving the Trojans the ball on the Danville 23. Penalties backed up the Trojans and they finally sent out Ellis Grizenko to kick a 44-yard field goal, which came up short. That gave the ball back to Danville, who cashed in for the only time in the game. Danville’s Langdon Johnson ran for a 74-yard touchdown, putting his team on the board, but still down, 22-7.
“That was a nice run, but we’re too up and down,” said Danville coach Ed Honabarger. “We’re too inconsistent. (Centerburg) is big up front, they have a nice line and good skill kids. We continue to struggle and we are not in the position that we can overcome mistakes.”
The Trojans came right back on the ensuing possession, driving the ball 67 yards and getting a touchdown on a 2-yard run from running back Trey Kendrick (7 rushes, 29 yards).
Interceptions by Marshall and teammate Holden Cochran setup a Jarred Rings (4 rushes, 24 yards; 4 receptions, 77 yards) touchdown on a 35-yard pass from Centerburg quarterback Jack Gregory and a touchdown run by teammate Preston Barber (6 rushes, 85 yards).
“We’ve been struggling in the secondary, so it was great to be able to generate turnovers and get the ball back for our offense,” Colella said. “I thought they stepped up and did a good job.”
The Trojans made their second fumble recovery late in the game, and it was enough to give them one more crack at the endzone. This time it was Rings again, scoring on a 4-yard run.
“(Danville) made us mad when they scored on us,” Rings said. “We just wanted to get back at them and we came back harder than ever.