By: Rich Rogers | Towanda Daily Review | November 12, 2011
TOWANDA - For 24 minutes, the number 7 seed Danville Ironmen took control and a 13-0 lead over the Black Knights in their District IV first round playoff game. But the combination of winning tradition, great half time adjustments and never-say-die-attitude allowed the Knights to turn the tables completely and come away with a 35-20 win.
"They are going to play hard every game," Towanda coach Craig Dawsey said of his team. "Every game is going to be like this. They are all going to be hard and we are just going to have to keep working."
The half time stats told the story of just how much Towanda struggled. Their normally potent rushing attack of Garrett Dinelli and Mason Roof was held to just 25 yards on 15 carries. Meanwhile, quarterback Trey Sites struggled mightily completing just 3 of 13 attempts for 57 yards with 2 interceptions.
Both teams traded punts to start the game before a 10 play Danville drive put them in field goal position, where a 46 yard field goal attempt by Dylan Friday was short. Defenses would continue to dominate until late into the second quarter. The Ironmen began a drive at their 40 and quarterback Andrew Andreychik began to connect with his receivers. An 18 yard completion to Zack Kozick, followed by a 24 yard completion to David Vitunac set them up with 1st and 10 at the Towanda 19. Two short runs left them with 3rd and 3 at the 12 where Andreychik took a shotgun snap and weaved his way through the defense for a 12 yard score. Friday's extra point was good, and at 3:13, Danville led 7-0.
Mason Roof took the ensuing kick off and excited the crowd as he returned it to the 47. But a 2nd down pass attempt by Sites was intercepted at the Danville 26. From there, the Ironmen would need only 4 plays to cover 74 yards. A 21 yard completion from Andreychik to Brett Berg followed by a short run set them up with 1st and 10 at the Towanda 38. From there, Andreychik found Berg again, this time down the left side line for the 38 yard strike. The extra point was blocked and the lead was now 13-0. Towanda's best drive came just before half as they drove from their 43 to the Danville 9. But 2 straight sacks followed by an off sides penalty left them with 4th and 34 from the 35, where a 52 yard field goal attempt by Zach Ripic was well short as the second quarter clock expired.
The Black Knights came out of the locker room as you would expect a team with its winning tradition and down 13-0 would - focused, determined, and a little ticked off. Starting from their 25, Sites found Ripic for 12 yards. Dinelli followed with a 14 yard run and Jordan Dawsey added 8 more. On 2nd and 2 from the 45, Sites kept it himself and raced for 29 yards setting them up on the 26. On 2nd and 10 from there, Sites found Mason Roof down the middle of the field with a perfect 28 yard scoring strike. Roof added the extra point, and at 9:13, the lead was cut to 13-7. The teams traded punts for the remainder of the 3rd quarter before David Canfield stole the ball away on a 1st down run play at the Danville 26. An offsides penalty backed them up 5 yards before a perfectly thrown Sites' spiral found Casey Huff for the 31 yard score. Roof added the extra point and Towanda had their first lead at 10:06 in the fourth, 14-13.
"It might have been a sense of things ending," Dawsey said. "They knew that this could be the last game. In the second half they put that aside and just came out and played."
With their new found momentum, the defense forced a three and out and the offense went right to work. A Sites to Ripic completion picked up 8 yards, followed by a 6 yard run by Dinelli, and a 5 yard pick up from Roof. On 1st and 10 from the 21, Sites found Casey Huff in the right flat where the receiver eluded at least three tacklers, spinning and twisting his way for the 21 yard catch and run, finishing with a dive over the goal line. Roof's third extra point on the night made it 21-13 with 6:50 left.
Forced to throw, Andreychik was intercepted by Ripic at the Danville 28. From there, five straight runs, culminating with a 7 yard touchdown run by Ripic put the Knights ahead 28-13 with 3:18 left.
Danville would not quit, as 18 seconds later, they completed a 69 yard hook-and-lateral for a touchdown to bring the score within 28-20. They followed that with an onside kick attempt recovered by Jordan Dawsey at the 48. Mason Roof would seal the victory on the next play, busting through the middle and out racing the defense for a 53 yard score. He added his last extra point of the night and the final score was set, 35-20.
Roof led all rushers on the night with 98 yards on 13 carries and one score. Sites was 10 for 22 passing for 159 yards and 3 touchdowns. Casey Huff caught 5 passes for 105 yards and two scores.
The Black Knights will advance to the second round of the District IV AA playoffs next Friday when they host Bloomsburg, a 48-21 winner over Mifflinburg.