DANVILLE — The Danville Blue Devils have relied on big plays all season.
It took almost an entire half before they had one on Friday. But it was all they needed.
Danville’s Conway Baldridge and Jamarcus Hershberger teamed up to score a touchdown off a failed snap to Hannibal River’s punter late in the second quarter. The Blue Devils then forced two more turnovers on the Pilots’ next two plays, scoring off one, and allowed just 77 total yards the rest of the way to a 30-6 victory in the Division VI regional quarterfinals in Danville.
The game was riddled with turnovers — four for each team — but River couldn’t capitalize, while Danville did.
“We’ve got to clean up those turnovers,” said Danville head coach Ed Honabarger. “That will bite us in the rear end.”
The game was scoreless until the 2:43 mark in the second quarter, when the game-turning fumble occurred. After losing 20 yards on three plays, River’s punter stood in the endzone and dropped the snap. When he picked the ball up, Baldridge was there to knock it out of his hands.
“It looked like the punter was trying to pick the ball up. So I hit him,” said Baldridge.
Hershberger was right behind Baldridge. He looked down and saw the ball on the ground.
“I just thinking about the ball being on the ground. I was trying to cover it up,” said Hershberger. “That was kind of a game-changer, because it got us going.”
After Cade Mickley scored the two-point conversion on an end around to make the score 8-0, River prepared to start again at their own 37. But Danville’s defense was fired up; Mickley stepped in front of Cody Caldwell’s pass and snatched it away.
Although Danville couldn’t score on the next possession, the defense gave the team another chance. Jordan Sapp fumbled on the next play and — who else? — Mickley fell on the ball.
Four plays later, Bryce Staats found Austin Hazen on a fade route in the end zone, and Danville led, 14-0.
The high-powered offense of Danville (10-1) was held in check for the most part. The Devils had just one play for more than 25 yards — a touchdown pass from Staats to Corey Geog for 39 in which Geog sidestepped two defenders — and managed 361 total yards but turned it over four times, including twice to kill long drives.Launch Image Gallery