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August 31, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

STANFORD - The more he watched the first half, the more Sam Harp knew his pregame fears that his team was not mentally prepared to play were true.

Danville had a 17-0 halftime lead en route to a 50-0 victory over Lincoln County here Friday night, but the Admirals got much more of a fight from the Patriots than most along the Danville sideline except for Harp expected.

"We underestimated them," said Danville junior Kelvin Turner, who scored two touchdowns. "We didn't think they would play us as tough as they did. We had a couple of people step up defensively the second half, but we just were not ready mentally at the start."

Harp said a series of off-the-field distractions during the day may have contributed to the lack of focus.

"We had a couple of guys today try to bend the rules and I'm not going to have it," Harp said.

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The game started like it might be an easy Danville win. Three runs by Charles Penix, the last from 17 yards, accounted for a touchdown just over two minutes into the game and a quick 7-0 lead. However, Lincoln (0-2) answered with a 13-play, 62-yard drive behind the running of Chris Hart and Logan Boyd to get in position for a 28-yard field goal try by Justin Kolasa that was barely wide.

"We were overmatched by their speed and our tackling was not very good, but at least we came out and tried to hit the holes hard," Lincoln coach Robbie Lucas said. "My staff did a good job with the game plan and we tried to control the ball as much as we could. But it's hard to stop Danville for long."

Danville settled for a 32-yard field goal by Zach Hampton, the first of his career, on its second possession and then got a 5-yard scoring run from Turner for a 17-0 lead with 9 minutes, 46 seconds left in the half.

Harp let assistant coaches Jerry Perry and Marty Jaggers handle most of the halftime talk before delivering his not-too-subtle message.

"I told them they either had pride in themselves or not," Harp said. "I told them if their minds were on next week (against Boyle County), then we were going to lose tonight. It's going to take a supreme effort on our part to play with Boyle and if we come out next week like we did tonight, it won't even be a game."

Danville's second half performance was more dominating. Quarterback Ronnie Hawkins threw 27 yards to tight end Mario Berry for a score. Penix returned a fumble 13 yards for a score. Turner went 47 yards for a punt return touchdown after fielding a low punt and getting a key block from Jeffrey Guest. Penix added another 4-yard scoring run and freshman Darren Ross tallied on a 4-yard run to complete a 33-point third quarter.

Turner finished the game with 165 yards rushing on 12 carries, Penix had 91 yards on eight and Ross got 86 yards on six attempts.

"Danville is one of the best teams in the state. We had a good first half and still got beat 50-0," Lucas said. "Turner and Penix are two of the top backs in the state and they run behind a big line. They are just good and just eventually overwhelmed us."

Still, Harp was not pleased that Lincoln ran for 131 yards and found openings in his defense.

"The way we played defense the first half was ridiculous," Harp said. "I don't care how many distractions we had, there's no excuse for blowing assignments. Lincoln just came out and took it to us because we weren't ready."

Turner says the Admirals need to re-evaluate their thinking based on Friday's performance.

"I hope we learned a big lesson," Turner said. "We have to stop slacking off in practice because we should be able to see what it did to us. We have to learn to focus on what the coaches are telling us. We've also got to get in better shape. We run hard in practice, but apparently some guys are not going all-out like they should be. Hopefully tonight showed us that we are not as good as we thought."

Lucas isn't sure about that.

"Danville is as good a team as you are going to find," Lucas said. "I wanted to schedule this game to help our kids see what we needed to do. Coach Harp is a class guy. They could have scored again at the end, but he didn't want to embarrass our team. I appreciated that."

Harp praised the way the Patriots played, especially Boyd and Hart. He also liked the way Hampton kicked and the performances Ross, Chase Overstreet and Guest gave in their first significant varsity action.

"We had some bright spots and I don't want to forget that," Harp said. "But we've got a long way to go to be a good team and a lot of things we have to get straightened out in a hurry."

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