By: Matt Beltz | Towanda Daily Review | October 10, 2015
DANVILLE — A game plan is only as good as its execution.
Wyalusing came into Friday's game with Danville with what head coach Frank Kinney thought was a good plan. But that plan was quickly shattered as Danville took advantage of three straight Wyalusing turnovers in the first half, and also recovered an onside kick — all of which led to 28 points — as the Ironmen topped the Rams 42-15, with all 42 coming in the first half.
"I thought we had a good game plan and we scored right off the bat but sometimes when you score quick like that our kids can kind of have a little letdown (because they think things are under control)," said Kinney. "Then they do the onside kick and we commit some turnovers and once our kids got down they kind of folded. Turnovers killed us. We're not used to having a lot of turnovers but we got beat off the ball."
Wyalusing did take an early 7-0 lead on Collin Edsell's 79-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Edsell broke a tackle behind the line of scrimmage and then got free down the left sideline to give the Rams the lead with 8:40 to go in the first quarter.
But that would be the highlight of the night for the Rams. Danville, which had moved its homecoming up to Friday to honor 17-year-old Mackenzie Riley — a senior at Danville who is battling bone cancer for the third time and was crowned homecoming queen at halftime although she was too weak to attend in person — then scored on its next six possessions. That included three off turnovers and it essentially put the game away by halftime.
"Danville had something to play for tonight with Mackenzie and I'd imagine they were really fired up for homecoming," said Kinney.
"Our kids' focus this week was on this game," said Danville coach Jim Keiser. "They wanted to do something for Mackenzie and if we play like this every week, who knows what's going to happen."
After Wyalusing's early touchdown, Danville immediately answered with a seven-play, 64-yard drive that lasted just two minutes and featured seven rushes alternating between Ryan Palm and Trent Hilkert. Palm capped it with a three-yard run into the end zone to even the score.
The Ironmen then successfully executed an onside kick that took Wyalusing by surprise. It was recovered by Evan Hagenbuch at the Wyalusing 47 and from there, Danville put together another seven-play drive that featured six rushes and was then capped by Cross Truesdell's 13-yard touchdown reception from Gannon Feldmann.
"We got that onside kick and then the momentum just kept flowing and we kept getting those turnovers and kept getting momentum off them," said Keiser. "Wyalusing is a heck of a football team and that really got them stuck in the mud and got us fired up and got us going."
The Rams' next drive began their string of three straight turnovers. First, on a broken play, Derek Frederick was sacked for a 22-yard loss by Hilkert, who also popped the ball loose and it was recovered by Jan Brennan and returned to the Wyalusing 20-yard line. The Iromen needed just 44 seconds and four plays to capitalize on a two-yard run by Hilkert.
On Wyalusing's next drive, leading rusher Luke Jennings coughed up the ball on the Rams' first play from scrimmage and it was recovered by Peyton Riley. Danville then took just 1:10 to go 39 yards, capped by Palm's second touchdown run of the game with just 33 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Rams were able to advance the ball all the way to the Danville 33 on their ensuing possession but on a fourth down play, Derek Frederick was intercepted by Ken Cooper on an underthrown pass. Danville took possession and then proceeded to chew up a large portion of the second quarter on its next drive, which spanned 14 plays and was capped by Hilkert's second touchdown of the night, this one a one yard run to put the Ironmen up 35-7.
Feldmann then threw his second touchdown of the night on Danville's next possession, which came after Wyalusing went three-and-out on its ensuing drive. He found a wide open Shane Kozick in the middle of the field a few yards outside the end zone and Kozick only needed to take a few steps to score and lift the Ironmen to a 42-7 lead.
Just as important as Danville's opportunistic defense and its offense capitalizing on outstanding field position and turnovers was the Ironmen's ability to shut down Wyalusing's running game. Jennings, who entered the game averaging 188 yards per game on the ground and had run for at least 100 in four of five games, was held to just 16 yards rushing. Frederick, also a threat on the ground and in the return game, was sacked four times and didn't have a punt return as Danville only punted twice. Edsell's 79-yard run was Wyalusing's only real bright spot on the evening, as he finished with 98 rushing yards.
Wyalusing scored a late touchdown as Calvin Burke hooked up with Ryan Kipp for a 52-yard pass down the right sideline with just 36 seconds left in the game.