Pirates stop Hawks winning streak, 27-6
Paul Wilson, Enquirer Correspondent
Depth, field position and a solid kicking game. Those three things may go unnoticed to many people, but very often each one plays an important role in determining whom wins or loses on Friday nights. This past Friday night at Smith-Owens Stadium, the Winfield Pirates used each to their advantage in claiming the Class 3A, Region 7 championship with a 27-6 win over the Danville Hawks.
Hawk head coach Joey Burch acknowledged as much after the game. "Their depth was a big difference in the game," Burch said. "They rotated an entire offensive and defensive unit while we were playing 14 or 15 kids. Eventually, that wears on you."
Even more important than their depth was field position. There were 97 non-penalty plays from scrimmage and 84 of those plays took place in Danville territory.
"Our defense had their backs to the wall all night," Burch said. "I thought they did well until getting a little tired late in the game."
"Their kicking game was a big difference. Winfield is a good team.
"They are ranked No. 5 and they deserve it," said Burch.
The Pirates scored first when they went on a very impressive five-play 62-yard drive, which ended when Hall scored the touchdown on a four-yard run.
Key plays included, Hall breaking loose for runs of 24 and nine yards on the drive.
Wil Vickery added the point-after to give Winfield a 7-0 lead with 1:34 left in the opening period.
The second quarter saw all but two plays snapped on Danville's side of the field. Somehow the Hawks were able to keep Winfield out of the end zone.
The big play was a Danville recovery of a Winfield fumble at the Hawk nine-yard line.
Following the recovery, each team traded punts and Danville started their final drive of the half at their own 22.
A 10-yard penalty for an illegal block moved the ball back to the 12.
Orr ran twice for seven yards to give the Hawks a third-and-13 at the Danville own 19.
Senior QB Chase Suggs dropped back and found Thomas Garner open down the left sideline for a gain of 17 yards and a first down bringing the Hawk fans to their feet.
The next two plays quickly quieted the crowd as an incomplete pass and an eight-yard loss put Danville at their own 28 with about one minute remaining in the opening half of play.
The next two plays not only brought Hawk fans to their feet but had them hugging and screaming as well.
On third-and-18 senior FB Lee Waddell broke a couple of tackles at the line and then rumbled 51 yards down the right sideline before being tackled at the Pirate 21.
The following play saw Suggs find Tyree Murphy streaking across the middle for 21 yards and a Danville touchdown.
Danny Pepper's point-after was blocked but with 26 seconds left in the half Danville had cut the Winfield lead to one.
The half would end with Winfield leading 7-6.
Winfield's opening drive of the second half would provide the turning point of the game as the Pirates went 62 yards in 10 plays using 5:25 of the third period.
The Pirates got the touchdown on a fourth-and-12 middle screen from Franks to Hall. Hall broke two or three tackles to get into the end zone.
"The middle screen on fourth down was the turning point of the game," Burch said.
"We (Danville coaching staff) thought they would use that play and we tried to let the kids know, but I guess with all the noise they could not hear us."
Vickery's point-after was good giving Winfield a 14-6 lead midway through the third. Winfield would score on their next drive as well.
The Pirates started at the Danville 18 as Jeremy Porter fielded Murphy's kick and returned it some 29 yards to give Winfield great field position.
Hall got his second score of the night on a five-yard run. Vickery's kick was no good, but Winfield was in control with a 20-6 lead late in the third.
The remainder of the game was played on Danville's side of the field with Winfield adding another score on a Porter run of 14 yards.
Vickery drilled the point-after to give Winfield a 27-6 lead.
Danville's final two possessions ended with interceptions and the Pirates would leave Smith-Owens Stadium with the region championship.
The Hawks did receive some good news on an otherwise dreary evening as Winston County defeated Vinemont 27-16.
The Vinemont loss assures the Hawks of a second place finish in Class 3A, Region 7.
It also guarantees Danville will play the first round of the playoffs at home.
The loss snaps a season-opening seven game win streak.