Vaught's Views: Title Town game had no losers

September 05, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

If you wanted to put together the dream script for the Title Town Showdown, it would be hard to do better than what actually happened Friday night, because this Title Town game had no losers.

Big crowd. Big plays. Big emotion. Big jubilation. Big heartache.

Words cannot adequately describe just how good Boyle County's 37-30 win over visiting Danville was Friday. In a series that has had some dramatic games, this one might easily go down as the best, or certainly the most entertaining.

Don't believe me. Let two Danville-Boyle veterans explain.

Jim Donlon started playing football for Danville in 1971. Since then he's played, watched or coached for Boyle in almost every Danville-Boyle game.

"This was two fine teams just running up and down the field," Donlon said. "It was just a great game, at least from the offensive standpoint. For the fans, it had to be as exciting as it can get. I can't remember one any better. It was like whoever had the ball last was going to win."


Chuck Miller, now Boyle's strength coach, starting playing at Danville in 1969. Like Donlon, he's seen almost every Boyle-Danville game since then.

"This was a classic," Miller said. "It was like two prizefighters going at it with nobody giving up. They went right at each other.

"I think not only was this the best Danville-Boyle game I ever remember seeing, but it might be one of the best games period I've ever seen. These were two class teams playing great football."

The biggest lead in the game was seven points - 30-23 Danville and 37-30 Boyle. Just when you thought one team had the momentum, the other team answered with its own big play.

Almost too many big plays to remember

Big plays? There were almost too many to even remember.

Boyle junior Seth Tamme twice got behind the Danville secondary for scoring catches of 53 and 40 yards. Teammate Evan Teague caught a 21-yard scoring toss just before halftime.

Danville got a 65-yard scoring run from quarterback Ronnie Hawkins and two dynamic scoring runs of 75 and 49 yards by Kelvin Turner.

Perhaps the game's most unexpected play had to come from 120-pound freshman Tyrell Johnson. That's right - 120 pounds. Yet he took advantage of being put on the kickoff return team to start the second half by taking the kickoff, veering toward the middle of the field and then bouncing outside for an 85-yard score that had to have everyone scrambling for a program to even find out who this speedster was.

Then there was the game-winning touchdown run by Quinn Givhan midway through the fourth period. Of course, there were a tense few seconds for the Boyle faithful the previous play when Tamme fielded a Danville punt and lost the ball as he started to run. One official indicated Danville had recovered the fumble at the Boyle 31.

Turns out the official merely pointed the wrong way - maybe he was overly excited like everyone else watching the game - and Boyle kept the ball. On the first play Givhan found an opening along the left sideline and outran everyone to put the Rebels ahead 37-30 with under six minutes to play.

No way would this game end without one last surge by the Admirals. Never mind that Turner somehow had overcome a week-long illness that had coach Sam Harp wondering if he would even play to gain 218 yards rushing despite limited playing time or that Hawkins was nursing a sore shoulder. Danville got a 31-yard run by sophomore Darren Ross to reach the Boyle 34-yard line with plenty of time to win the game.

However, Boyle's defense, normally the strength of any Chuck Smith-coached team, finally showed it might be ready to come together. For the third straight time in the fourth quarter, the Rebels held. A fourth down pass to Turner was intercepted by Tamme with 3:17 to play and Boyle ran out the clock to secure the win.

The real winner

The real winner, though, was Title Town. Boyle found the heart Smith had been wanting and, despite already allowing 94 points this season, could now be poised to win a sixth straight state title.

As usual, quarterback Brandon Smith was at his best under pressure - 15-for-24 passing for 234 yards and three touchdowns and 67 yards rushing.

Danville also found the same heart. It would have been easy for the Admirals to have folded early. Remember, Boyle won 45-26 last year.

Then the Admirals had to have been distracted by news that they might have to forfeit their first two wins because an ineligible player played.

Throw in Turner, Hawkins and linebacker-receiver Darius Baughman (knee) all being far from 100 percent and this could have been a big Boyle win.

"I am proud of all of them," Danville coach Sam Harp said. "They could have hung their heads and gone in the tank, which I thought we did against Boyle last year. Life is not a bowl of cherries.

"You'll be dealt some tough blows. Our kids really played hard. There would have been tremendous euphoria if we had won. But give Boyle credit. They did what it took to win. They earned the victory."

All true, but both teams also showcased what Title Town is all about by playing a game we'll all remember and possibly look back on in a few months as the turning point in state championship seasons once again for both teams.

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