Hawks stunned, 31-0
Paul Wilson, Enquirer Correspondent
A disappointing end to an exciting season. That sentence best describes Danville's loss to Hokes Bluff in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs last Friday night at Smith-Owens Stadium.
While losing is disappointing enough, the way the Hawks lost made it even more so. Turnovers, an inability to move the football and Hokes Bluff's ability to convert third downs all made for a very long night for Coach Joey Burch and his Danville Hawks.
"Mistakes killed us," Burch said. "You can't make mistakes against a good football team like Hokes Bluff and expect to win."
However, followers of Danville football should not remember this team for its play last Friday night. Rather, Hawks football fans should focus on the incredible progress made by this program the past three seasons. Burch echoed those thoughts after the game.
"While we're disappointed with the outcome of the game, we're proud of how far we have come the past three years," Burch added.
Two years ago Danville finished 0-10, last year 5-5 and this season the Hawks set records for the best start ever by a Danville football team (7-0) and most wins in the regular season, nine.
Danville got off to a bad start with three Jeremy Orr runs losing one yard.
On fourth-and-11, backup punter Josh Barber was unable to handle a high snap from center and Hokes Bluff had a first-and-goal at the Danville nine.
Two Hokes Bluff running plays gained only two yards but on 3rd-and-goal, junior quarterback Daryl Otwell threw a pass in the left flat to a wide open Logan Norton. Norton ran seven yards untouched into the end zone.
Andrew Colvard added the point-after and Hokes Bluff led 7-0 with less than four minutes gone in the game.
The rest of the quarter was dominated by both defenses with Danville getting the only first down of the period on a Chase Suggs to Casey Wilson pass good for 11 yards.
The opening moments of the second quarter saw the Danville offense commit their first turnover of the night as Orr fumbled the ball at his own 35.
Hokes Bluff wasted little time taking advantage, as Otwell was two-for-two passing on the three-play drive. Otwell's 2nd pass went to Colvard who then ran for 22 yards and an Eagle touchdown.
Colvard kicked the point-after to give Hokes Bluff a 14-0 lead early in the second period.
The two teams then exchanged turnovers and punts before Hokes Bluff ended the first half with a 25-yard field goal by Colvard.
Colvard set up the field goal attempt with runs of 18 and 25 yards.
The Eagles received the ball to open the second half and promptly ended any hopes Danville had of a comeback.
Hokes Bluff used over seven minutes of the third period going 64 yards in 12 plays with Otwell scoring on an 11 yard run, after Hawk senior Logan Asherbranner forced him out of the pocket on a third-and-goal.
Otwell's touchdown run marked the third time in the drive that Hokes Bluff had converted a third-and-10 or more.
Colvard added the point-after to give the Eagles a 24-0 lead.
Hokes Bluff's final score of the evening came on Danville's first play of the second half. Suggs lofted a pass down the left sideline that was intercepted by Brandon Byars at midfield.
Byars ran to the 40 and then raced across the field before heading down the sideline for an Eagle touchdown.
Colvard's kick was good making the score 31-0 in favor of the visitors from Etowah County.
The game marked the first time this season the Hawk defense surrendered more than 30 points.
Danville would threaten late in the fourth quarter but Suggs was stopped two yards short on fourth down at the Hokes Bluff 14 and the Eagles then ran out the clock for the victory.
The Hawk offense was held to a season-low 93 yards of total offense with Orr getting only 32 yards on 20 carries.
Otwell led Hokes Bluff with 57 yards and a touchdown on eight rushes.
Otwell also had a fine night passing going seven-of-11 for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
The loss ends Danville's season at 9-2.
Friday night marked the end of 13 senior's football career at Danville. Chase Suggs, Craig Poole, Lee Waddell, Josh Orr, Jason Skinner, Josh Barber, Nic Jolley, Logan Asherbranner, Patrick Pinchon, Thomas Garner, Brandon Jones, Jonathan Peters and Michael Potter.
The 13 helped the Hawks win 14 games in their final two years after having a winless season as sophomores in 2002.
According to Burch, they provided the Hawks with tremendous leadership and played with a lot of heart and be sorely missed.