DANVILLE — In a battle between two unbeaten teams in the Mid-Buckeye Conference, someone was going to have to step up and make the difference.
Hello, Bryce Staats.
The six-foot senior rushed for 253 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for 133 yards and two more scores — not to mention a pair of two-point conversions — to send Danville to a 42-35 home victory over Johnstown on Friday.
The victory was the first for the Blue Devils over the Johnnies since 2006. It was also Johnstown’s first conference loss in 15 games.
The win all but secures an MBC championship for Danville — one more win clinches at least a share — and puts the team in the driver’s seat for a home playoff game.
“We have so many kids that are second, third, fourth generation,” said Danville head coach Ed Honabarger. “They’ve got older brothers, fathers and grandfathers who played here and were successful. For this group to be a step away from an MBC title means a lot.”
To mention Staats’ 386 total yards only touches on his performance. Staats spent much of the game running from pursuing defenders in the backfield, only to run past them for big gains. Other times, he pulled the ball down, then changed his mind and threw to a wide-open receiver for a first down.
Staats now has 879 rushing yards on the season and 1,709 passing, putting him on pace for a rare 1,000/2,000 season performance.
“Staats is a shifty kid. He’s not going to win a race at a track meet,” said Honabarger. “He gets good blocks up front, then he moves his hips and his shoulders and makes people miss. ... That’s one good thing about the spread. You get athletes out in the open.”
The clinching touchdown in the game for Danville (7-1, 5-0 MBC) actually involved another key offensive player. Facing fourth down at the Johnstown 5, Staats faked a sweep left and flipped the ball back to Corey Geog on a reverse. Geog jogged into the endzone unopposed.