Big plays save win for Danville

November 21, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Even when his team had a seemingly comfortable lead and fans were celebrating Kelvin Turner's record, Danville coach Sam Harp knew not to relax.

"I knew Holy Cross was wearing us down and I knew how good they were," said Harp. "I was just hoping we could hang on."

They did.

Danville used the superb all-around play of Turner, who became the state's all-time leader in touchdowns, and key defensive plays to hold off Holy Cross 28-23 Friday at Admiral Stadium in the Class AA, Region 2 championship and advance to a fifth straight semifinal matchup with Mayfield this week.

Turner scored on runs of 78, 1 and 30 yards to increase his career touchdown total to 113, one more than Derek Homer of Fort Knox scored from 1993-96.


"It means a lot to do that, but it means more that we won," Turner said. "Our defense stepped up and made plays."

The defense made the game's first big play, as well as the last one.

Turner blocked Zach Malcolm's punt on the game's first series at about the 35-yard line. It went straight up and back before finally hitting at the 5-yard line while Turner desperately tried to figure out where the ball was. Finally Turner's teammates converged on the loose ball, knocked it into the end zone and Ryan Harper recovered for a touchdown.

"I saw where the ball was and just fell on it," Harper said. "It was a great start."

Great finish for Danville

The finish was just as great for Danville (9-4). Holy Cross (11-2), which lost 27-22 to Danville last year, had rallied from a 21-2 deficit in the third quarter and had a first down at the Danville 15 before a first-down quarterback sack by Darren Ross changed the momentum. On fourth down from the 25, Ronnie Hawkins knocked down Holy Cross quarterback Aaron Troutman's pass in the end zone to save the game for Danville.

"I was playing zone and saw the ball all the way," Hawkins said. "I didn't want to try for the interception and tip it. I just wanted to knock the ball down like I did."

That's when Harp could finally savor what his team had done.

"We beat a heck of a team tonight," Harp said. "Our kids just made the plays they had to make to win. We got tired at the end, but we won.

"I really feel like this was an upset. Physically, we just had severe matchup problems. They had size and speed. We made mistakes, but fortunately they did, too. We had a good game plan, but they just didn't let us do a lot of what we wanted."

However, Holy Cross couldn't stop Turner. He ran for 220 yards on 24 carries and was Danville's offense. On the 14 plays in which Turner didn't have the ball, Danville lost one yard.

"What more can you say? He's a heck of a player," Harp said.

Holy Cross kept the ball for most of the first half. Even though the Cougars had just 135 total yards, they had the football 17 minutes, 46 seconds compared to just 6:14 for the Admirals, who managed just 27 total yards in the half. For the game, Holy Cross amassed 19 first downs and 381 total yards.

Danville's defense bent, but wouldn't break in the first half. The Admirals stopped a fourth-down run out of punt formation at their own 43-yard line. The next series Deangelo Durham forced a fumble by Marell Booker at the Danville 24-yard line that linebacker Justin Hill recovered.

The Cougars scored only when Danville quarterback Jeffery Guest was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, an automatic safety. After the safety, Holy Cross drove to the Danville 16-yard line before stalling and Hill ended the threat by sacking Troutman on fourth down.

Ads build their lead

The score was still 7-2 when Turner broke at least four tackles, changed directions and outran the final defenders to score on a 78-yard run midway of the third period. Four plays later, Hawkins intercepted a pass, weaved his way through Holy Cross tacklers and returned it 65 yards to the 4-yard line. Turner scored on a 1-yard run for a 21-2 lead.

However, a 65-yard pass play to Eric Titus got Holy Cross back into the game just 21 seconds after Turner's second score.

"We just missed a tackle," Harp said. "We had them on the ropes if we made that play."

Instead, a 37-yard run by Marell Booker set up Troutman's 8-yard scoring run to close the margin to 21-16 with 10:13 to play.

Danville answered with a seven-play, 65-yard drive that Turner ended with another brilliant run. He was hit at the line, cut right, broke a tackle and ran to the end zone for a 28-16 lead with 6:52 left. But it took Holy Cross just 39 seconds to go 65 yards and score on a 16-yard pass to Eric Floyd.

"When they got the ball back one last time, we could have folded," Harp said. "But our kids hung in there even when they completed a couple of passes, and then Ronnie made the play we needed. We might be lucky to still be playing, but we are and at this stage of the season, that's all that counts."

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