Danville rallies to beat Mayfield

November 28, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

With Kelvin Turner less than full speed, Danville needed someone else to help make sure it found its way back to Louisville for another Class A state championship game.

Senior Ronnie Hawkins and sophomore Darren Ross did just that as the host Admirals overcame a 14-13 halftime deficit to beat Mayfield 33-14 Friday night and earn a spot in this Friday's state title game against Beechwood.

"I'm proud of our guys for the heart and fight they showed," said Danville coach Sam Harp. "It wasn't always pretty, but it was a win."

Turner, the state's all-time leading touchdown producer, pulled a hamstring muscle in practice last week. Harp wasn't sure until kickoff if he would even play.


While Turner was not full speed, he still rushed for 163 yards on 21 carries and scored three times in the second half on runs of 3, 25 and 6 yards to help the Admirals earn their fourth berth in the state title game in the last five years.

"There's no way he was full speed. You could tell he could not open it up," Harp said. "We still played him a lot more defensively than I wanted but if we didn't use him tonight, we ran the risk of seeing our season end."

Hawkins understood that and as he has in numerous previous games, he came through with two of the game's biggest plays.

The Admirals (10-4) allowed Mayfield (8-6) to drive 80 yards in 12 plays to score on a 27-yard screen pass to Tristian Dumas midway of the second quarter to tie the score 7-7 after sophomore quarterback Jeffery Guest had scored on a 6-yard run for Danville in period one.

Punt block for touchdown

Hawkins broke that deadlock when he got the signal from Danville assistant coach Jerry Perry to go for a punt block.

"Their protector moved to the other side, so I knew I could get there. I think I just hit him and knocked the ball loose. I don't think he even kicked it," Hawkins said.

Hawkins hit punter Aaron Williams, knocked the ball loose and teammate Brandon Lofton picked it at the 20-yard line. He leaped over Hawkins and raced to the end zone to score.

Mayfield answered immediately. A 67-yard screen pass to Blake Rust set up his 1-yard scoring run to put Mayfield on top.

But that was it for Mayfield's offense. Ross had four quarterback sacks, two quarterback pressures and one fumble recovery in the second half when Mayfield managed just 20 total yards.

"They just let me run loose," Ross said. "We wanted to put pressure on them. What we did worked except for the second quarter, but our seniors made sure we picked it back up."

Simple, effective offense

Danville's offense was simple, but effective. The Admirals drove 61 yards in 11 plays to score on Turner's 3-yard run with 7 minutes, 47 seconds left in period three to take a 19-13 lead.

Hawkins picked off Adam Shelton's deep pass for Dumas early in period four and returned it 24 yards to the Mayfield 28-yard line. Three plays later Turner raced through a big hole on the right side of the line for a 25-yard score.

"I knew when they put No. 20 (Dumas) wide, they would try to get him the ball," Hawkins said. "I dropped back and just broke on the ball."

"Ronnie just always makes plays," Harp said. "That's one reason we moved him from quarterback. He ran the ball well (76 yards on 11 carries), made a touchdown-saving tackle, defended the reverse pass twice well and was just all over the field again."

Ross had a sack and then recovered Shelton's fumble at the 24 to put Turner in position for a 6-yard scoring run, his 116th career touchdown.

"Our defensive front played well, but Darren Ross was outstanding," Harp said. "They let him come free and he made some huge plays for us."

Danville's speed creates problems

Mayfield coach Joe Morris said Danville's speed on defense created problems for his team, which overcame a 2-5 start to play the Admirals in the state semifinals for the fifth straight year. The Cardinals stayed in the game the first half thanks to two Danville fumbles, a missed 27-yard field goal by the Admirals and three big pass plays of their own. But Morris knew his team might be in trouble the second half.

"Danville was just much better the second half. They outhhit us and were stronger than us. They got great pressure on the quarterback, especially from Ross," Morris said. "We hurt them early with screen passes, but they adjusted at half and took that away. Tonight the better team won."

Morris also said not to underestimate the role Hawkins plays in most Danville wins.

"Turner deserves all the credit he gets, but Hawkins is a great player, too," Morris said. "Give him credit. He's a team player. He makes the most of the touches he gets and just keeps making game-winning plays."

Hawkins just wants one more win when the Admirals play Beechwood, a 40-7 winner over Pikeville on Friday, in a rematch of the 2003 state title game Danville won.

"It's not really sunk in yet that we are going back to Louisville, but we still have one more game to go before we can say we are No. 1," Hawkins said. "When we do that, then we can celebrate."

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