DANVILLE — Two teams looking for their first win gave it their all Friday night. Centerburg and Danville slugged it out for 48 minutes before the Trojans were finally able to prevail, 24-21, in the Mid-Buckeye Conference game at Danville.
“Those two teams did not play like they were 0-5. They both came out and laid it on the line. Nobody quit. That was just a great high school football game,” Centerburg coach Ken Kish said.
Danville (0-6, 0-3) was able to move the ball offensively in the first quarter, but the Blue Devils fumbled on one drive and turned the ball over on downs on the second. But the Devils defense came up big on both of Centerburg’s first two drives. Marcus Magers intercepted a Drew Osborne pass on the first drive, and Brandon Wilson blocked a Centerburg punt on the second drive.
The blocked punt put the Devils in prime position, giving them the ball on the Centerburg 7-yard line. But, a penalty and a strong defensive stand by Centerburg (1-5, 1-2) kept the Devils out of the end zone.
“We made some big plays tonight. But, right now as a team, we’ve got to finish them. We’ve got to capitalize on that. We didn’t do that and the scoreboard showed it,” said Danville coach Charlie Duncan.
That’s when things turned in Centerburg’s favor in a hurry.
The defensive stop fired up the offense, and Osborne connected with T.T. Thompson on a 90-yard touchdown strike on the second play. Thompson, who caught the ball down the left sideline, made a couple of nice moves to the right and raced into the end zone. The PAT kick hit the upright, but Centerburg led 6-0.
“I thought that was a real big part of the game. After the blocked punt, we held them and kept control of the game,” Kish said. “Then we hit T.T. — if he’s not All-Ohio, there’s not one in the state. It was really unbelievable — to hold them and then get that big play, that put us in the driver’s seat.”
The Trojans tried to put the game away late in the first half, marching 55 yards on just six plays to go up 14-0. Osborne connected on two long passes and then ran it in from 2 yards out for the score. The 2-point conversion was good and the Trojans were in control heading into the locker room.
Centerburg nearly put it on ice early in the third quarter. Danville attempted an onside kick to begin the half, but Centerburg was able to recover and moved the ball to Danville’s 26-yard line. Zach Brewer came up with a huge play for the Devils, intercepting Osborne’s pass and returning it to Centerburg’s 39-yard line. Heath Buckingham made a great run, breaking several tackles and racing 33 yards for the score just four plays later.
“Our offensive line started getting some push and Heath started hitting the holes. I thought we ran the ball more effectively in the second half,” Duncan said.
The good feeling didn’t last long for Danville.
Centerburg needed just two plays, both quarterback keepers, to push the lead back to two scores. Osborne raced 41 yards on the first play, then Luke Donaldson went 33 yards on the same play to hit paydirt.
That was the middle of an offensive explosion.
Danville returned the favor on the next possession, going 93 yards on just six plays. Cody Lyon raced the final 48 yards for the score.
The Devils got a break on Centerburg’s next possession. The Trojans went three and out and then the punter, Alex Gowans, bent down to pick up the low snap and his knee touched the ground, giving Danville the ball on the 17-yard line. Two Buckingham runs knotted the score at 21.
“We had that spark in our eyes in the second half. I liked the look in our eyes, but we just could not close the door,” Duncan said.
The Trojans pulled it together just in time. They took eight minutes off the clock, marching from their own 30 to Danville’s 10 before Gowans came through with the game-winning field goal. That was Centerburg’s first attempt at a field goal all season. The drive had stalled at Danville’s 35-yard line, but running back Josh Ratliff took the direct snap and threw a nice, 15-yard pass to Josh Michael on a fourth down play that kept the drive alive.
“I’m thrilled to death for our kids. They absolutely deserved to win and went out and got it,” Kish said. “That was our first field goal all year. He (Gowans) put it right through. That was a lot of pressure and he responded well.
“We have really good kids. I just love Centerburg and love the kids. We’re trying to build something good here. This week it was worth it.”
Osborne finished the night connecting on 8-of-13 passes for 170 yards to lead the Trojans. Thompson caught three of those passes for 114 yards, including the 90-yard touchdown bomb. Chase Cochran caught two passes for 37 yards, Logan McGovern caught two for 21 yards and Michael caught two passes, including the crucial fourth down play late. Ratliff ran for 44 yards to lead the Trojans in that capacity. Luke Donaldson added 38 and Osborne finished with 25.
Danville was led by Buckingham, who carried the ball 22 times for 152 yards. Lyon added 77 yards on eight carries. Quarterback Marcus Durbin hit on 4-of-10 passes for 25 yards.
Both teams return to MBC action next Friday at 7 p.m. Centerburg will host Loudonville and Danville will entertain Northridge.