DANVILLE — After losing their opening game because of a lack of defense, the Danville Blue Devils worked hard to eliminate any problems they had. Unfortunately on Friday night, a lack of offense became the issue.
Danville managed only 176 total yards of offense and was shut out by the visiting Waynedale Golden Bears, 28-0, at Memorial Park.
“It is frustrating because last week we put the offense together, and we worked hard to get that done,” said Danville coach Charlie Duncan. “This week, we worked really hard on defense, and they stepped up to the challenge. Waynedale is a good football team. We struck it to them for three quarters, but unfortunately, you’ve got to play four.
“We missed some blocks here and there, and we had some wide open receivers that we missed. It is the little things right now.”
The Blue Devil (0-2) defense did its part, keeping the game to one score through the first 23 1/2 minutes. Unfortunately the offense could never get on track despite a 134-yard rushing night from Heath Buckingham.
“Heath is a tough kid,” Duncan said. “We continued to give him the ball and he kept moving it. We did a decent job in the first half of helping him by opening some lanes, but we need to step it up offensively. He needs a little more help.”
For much of the first half, the teams traded field position with neither team capitalizing in the form of points. Both teams got into the other’s red zone, but were forced to go for it on fourth down and failed to convert.
Waynedale (1-1) finally broke the stalemate late in the second quarter. Taking over at their own 49, the Golden Bears got an 18-yard scamper by Cory Stryker and then followed up with a 12-yard pass completion from Spenser Lewis to Blake Miller. Stryker then moved the ball 6 more yards to the Danville 15, and Lewis once again called Miller’s number. Miller grabbed onto the ball, which looked like it was going to be intercepted, and took it into the end zone with 55 seconds to go. Michael Graf’s kick made it a 7-0 lead.
Danville moved the ball in the final minute, driving all the way to the Waynedale 8-yard line, but a 25-yard Zac Brewer field goal attempt missed wide left with two second left.
“I didn’t feel like we read the field very well at linebacker last week, and we did tonight,” said Duncan. “We brought them, and actually blitzed a little bit more, and our guys made plays. We really stepped up to the challenge, and for the first half, we held a good Waynedale team in check.”
The strong defensive play continued into the third quarter. Waynedale managed to get to the Blue Devils’ 28 on it second drive, but back-to-back incompletions ended the threat. Danville responded with a nine-play drive that ended with an incomplete pass at the Bears’ 12-yard line.
Waynedale took back over with less than two minutes to go in the quarter and moved the ball on the ground for a first down. Then, on the ensuing play, Lewis hit Stryker with a screen pass and Stryker weaved his way 64 yards for the score. Graf’s kick with 19 seconds left made it a 14-0 ball game.
The Blue Devils went four-and-out to start the fourth quarter, and it took Waynedale just one play to add to its lead. Stryker took the hand-off from his own 34 and raced 66 yards to the end zone. Graf’s kick capped the drive with 10:27 to play, and suddenly, the game started to get out of hand.
“I continued to be real confident,” Duncan said. “The first score, we had the interception slip through our hands. The second touchdown, he just broke it. I felt as long as we didn’t give up big plays, we could still win this football game.”
Danville continued to struggle to move the ball consistently, and Waynedale got the ball back after a short punt. Taking over at their own 42, the Golden Bears put together a drive, which ate up the clock, and resulted with a final score. Stryker had four carries on the drive, which culminated with a 4-yard touchdown run with 5:02 to go.
“At the end, we dropped a pass in the end zone and started to get a little tired,” Duncan said. “The wheels kind of got deflated and it is hard to battle back at that point.”
For the game, Stryker rushed for 164 yards on 19 carries and had two catches for 73 yards. Lewis’ favorite target was MaCarthy Williams, who had five catches for 81 yards. Miller also had three grabs for 41 yards.
Danville plays its first road game next week, traveling to Grove City Christian. The Eagles return a wealth of players and added six Grove City transfers when South-Western City Schools suspended all extra-curricular activities.
“Right now, we just have to put it all together and believe that we are a good football team,” said Duncan. “We have to put this game behind us. We have to continue to make plays and play all four quarters.”