Sulligent drops Danville, 27-21
Paul Wilson, Enquirer Correspondent
It was a tale of two halves Friday night at Smith-Owens Stadium in Danville. A nightmare of a first half saw the homestanding Hawks head to the locker room down 21-6. Despite a much-improved effort after halftime, the Hawks could not overcome the visiting Blue Devils from Sulligent, losing 27-21 in the Class 3A, Region 7 opener for both teams.
Commenting on his team's play in the first half, head coach Joey Burch said, "We just came out flat in the first half. We had no emotion."
Sulligent completely dominated the first quarter of play, scoring on its first two drives of the game. The Blue Devils' first touchdown was set up by a Zack Vance interception on the second play of the game. An 8-yard pass from Bradley Blaylock to Brandon Clark put the Blue Devils on the board. Following the PAT, Sulligent led 7-0 with 7:33 left in the opening quarter.
On its next possession Sulligent drove 70 yards in eight plays with Don Jordan getting the touchdown on a 1-yard run. Blaylock was 3-for-3 passing for 50 yards on the drive. The PAT was good and Sulligent was out to a stunning 14-0 lead with 2:14 still to play in the 1st quarter.
The Danville offense, behind the running of Jeremy Orr, showed signs of life in the second quarter, going 49 yards in eight plays. Orr gained all 49 yards, carrying the ball seven times during the drive with his last carry resulting in a 5-yard Danville touchdown.
Two plays earlier, Orr had an apparent touchdown called back due to a hold. It would be Orr's only touchdown of the evening as he did not play in the second half due to an injured shoulder.
"We don't really know for sure exactly how Jeremy injured his shoulder. He said he landed on it funny" replied Coach Burch.
Orr finished the night with 75 yards on 12 carries. Corey Evans' PAT was no good but the Hawks had cut the Blue Devil lead to eight (14-6) midway through the second quarter.
Danville's momentum was short lived however as the Blue Devils took the ensuing kickoff and drove 58 yards in 12 plays with Don Jordan getting his second 1-yard touchdown run of the evening. Sulligent converted two 3rd-and-long situations on the drive as Blaylock ran for 10 yards on 3rd-and-9 and Josh Willingham ran 22 yards to convert a 3rd-and-8.
The Blue Devil PAT was good, giving Sulligent its largest lead of the half (21-6) with 1:18 left before the halftime mark.
Following a football version of Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God" speech, the Danville football team came out very inspired, scoring on both its third quarter possessions while holding Sulligent to just 25 yards of offense.
Coach Burch said, "We challenged them in the locker room at the half."
Freshman running back De'untray Orr, filling in for injured cousin Jeremy Orr, scored both Hawk touchdowns on runs of eight and 13 yards. Orr's second touchdown was nothing short of spectacular as he took the hand off and cut back to the left side going untouched into the end zone.
"De'untray did a good job. He came in when Jeremy got hurt and took up the slack," said Coach Burch.
Orr ended the game with 69 yards on 12 carries. A two-point pass from Casey Wilson to Tyree Murphy and an Evans PAT helped the Hawks tie the game at 21-21.
However, much like the first half, the Sulligent Blue Devils were able to regain the momentum. The first play of the fourth quarter proved to be the difference maker as on 3rd-and-3 Willingham broke through the line and raced 67 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
The PAT was no good but with 11:43 left in the game Sulligent led 27-21.
Danville's final drives of the game saw the Hawks threaten but not score. The first drive ended with a punt following a loss of 10 on 3rd-and-6 from the Blue Devil 30. The Hawk defense led by seniors Danny Pepper and Justin Nelson up front and Craig Orr, John Dalton and Daniel Smith at linebacker forced a three and out.
Murphy brought the Danville crowd to its feet when he fielded the Sulligent punt at the Blue Devil 43 and returned it 19 yards to give the Hawks great field position at the Sulligent 24.
When asked about Muprhy, Coach Burch said "I thought Tyree played well tonight. I know he had to be tired at the end of the game. I think he played every snap on offense and defense."
Two runs by Dalton gained five yards but a holding penalty put the Hawks in a 3rd-and-15 situation. Wilson's pass to Murphy was incomplete but defensive pass interference was called giving the Hawk offense new life at the Sulligent 17.
Two running plays advanced the ball to the 10 but the Hawks could get no closer. Sulligent defensive back Caleb Massey intercepted Wilson's fourth down pass and Sulligent then ran out the clock to get the 27-21 victory.
"We showed a lot of heart in the second half but our kids have to come out and start the game with the same intensity we displayed this last half," said Coach Burch.
With the loss Danville falls to 1-1 overall and 0-1 in the region. Sulligent is now 1-1 and 1-0 in region play.
Danville will attempt to get its first region win next week as the Good Hope Raiders (0-2, 0-1) come to Smith-Owens Stadium Friday night. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.