– It was a cold and windy night at White Field as the #8
seed Danville Blue Devils put their 9-2 record up against the
8-3 #5 seed Lancaster Fisher Catholic Irish. The Irish were riding
the wave of a 6 game winning streak and a 34-0 first round playoff
blowout over Glouster Trimble. Danville was hoping to continue
their momentum after thumping the top seed 35-7 last week at Frontier.
Despite a high ankle sprain that kept him out of practice all
week, Sr. FB #2 Kasey Doup was in uniform, but replaced on the
defensive side by Sr. Nick Morton who has recovered from his week
3 broken leg.
the opening kickoff and immediately set out to establish the ground
game with their talented fullback #44 Sr. Ben Kasson. He broke
loose for a big gain, and then earned another first down going
straight ahead into the teeth of the Danville defense. The Irish
went to the air to change things up, but the Danville Safety #5
Jr. Nick Miller was there to make an interception and the Danville
had the first of many takeaways.
the ball to the Fisher 28 on a pass to #15 Sr. RB Steve Payne,
but from there the Danville offense went backwards and were forced
to punt. The first play from Fisher was fumbled and Danville was
handed a golden opportunity. A run down to the 9 yard line gave
them first and goal, but 3 plays later they were lining up for
a 26 yard field goal that was low and wide and Danville was denied
by the aggressive Fisher defense again. Fisher fared no better
as Danville sent them 3 and out as the first quarter came to a
offense stumbled then fumbled the ball away on 3rd down. Fisher
had some success offensively as they got a pass completion for
8 yards followed by a run from Kasson for 8 yards. The Danville
defense stopped them from there and forced a punt.
rhythm for Danville didn’t exist as they recovered their
own fumble on first down, had a broken play on second down, then
gave up a sack on 3rd down. After their punt Danville didn’t
allow any progress from Fisher and forced another punt from the
Irish. The half ended with Danville in possession and the score
the opening kickoff and it looked like more of the same as Danville
was facing 3rd and long. Danville’s #3 Sr. QB Randy Clouse
lofted the ball downfield toward a streaking #33 Sr. RB Nathan
Bartok. The ball was well on its downward arc before Bartok turned
his head, made a quick adjustment to the ball, and snatched it
out of the air for a 38 yard gain to the Fisher 26 yard line.
The play finally changed the futile nature of the game and got
the Danville offense fired up. From there Danville powered the
ball on the ground down to a first and goal from the 1-yard line.
A run, a dropped pass, and another run left them with 4th and
goal with a half yard to go. The coach called a rollout flood
pass, but the offensive linemen convinced the QB to sneak it across.
Luckily for those senior linemen, their play was successful and
after the PAT it was 7-0 Danville.
determined to answer the score as their Fullback #44 Ben Kasson
broke free for a 41 yard gain to the Danville 33 yard line. #78
Sr. DL Mat Butler took over from there and closed down the Fisher
threat by sacking the Fisher quarterback on back-to-back plays.
His second sack on 4th down was a textbook bull rush as he drove
his blocker right back into the QB and took them both down. Danville
took over on their 41-yard line, but threw a long interception
on their first play.
a blow as their fullback Kasson was tackled hard into the dirt
and injured his shoulder. After a Fisher punt Danville was backed
up deep as the 3rd quarter ended. On 3rd down they attempted a
pass that was intercepted and returned to the Danville 21-yard
line. Fisher desperately needed to take advantage of this opportunity.
They got to the 8 yard line on a quarterback scramble, then from
3 yards away they threw a pass to a wide open #28 Jr. Pat Turner
who bobbled it once, then bobbled it twice, then secured it for
a score. The all-important extra point was kicked low and blocked
by #15 Steve Payne. The score was now Danville 7 and Fisher 6.
kickoff was returned to the 45 yard line by #33 Nathan Bartok.
Danville seemed determined to eat up clock and hold on to the
ball. A key play was a power run from #2 Sr. FB Kasey Doup who
stayed on his feet and carried the pile for another 3 yards earning
a huge first down for Danville. That was followed by a sweep around
left end for another first down to the Fisher 30 by #15 Sr. RB
Steve Payne as the clock ticked down to 5 minutes remaining.
5-turnover game got even uglier. Danville fumbled it away at the
21. Fisher fumbled it back on the first play. Danville fumbled
it right back again on their first play and Fisher had life with
79 yards to go. The Irish attempted a double-pass as they threw
to the wide out who launched a pass to a wide, wide open receiver
who couldn’t make the over the shoulder grab that almost
certainly would have gone the distance. Facing a 4th and 5 from
their own 25 Fisher attempted a fake punt that was not successful.
it was mostly Danville trying to run out the clock. They faced
a 4th and 3 at the 20 inside a minute to play, which they converted
to end the game and win 7-6.
8 turnovers in this game. 4 for each team. It wasn’t smooth,
it wasn’t pretty, but it was a battle of will, determination,
and defense. Danville had more opportunities to score, missed
a short field goal, and finished the game in the Fisher red zone.
Overall Danville was fortunate to overcome the mistakes and get
a win. Fisher played great defense by disrupting the Danville
Wing-T and pressuring the passer. The injury to Kasson late in
the game greatly hurt their chances and it was a frustrating end
to such a great late season run for Fisher Catholic.
Danville will advance to face Willow Wood Symmes Valley who beat
Newark Catholic 16-3.