Danville comes up short again

By Staff
Hawks suffer 3rd 1-point defeat of season in 32-31 loss to Sumiton Christian
Paul Wilson, Enquirer Correspondent
SUMITON — If the first three weeks of the Danville football season was put to song, the Hall &Oates classic “So Close, Yet So Far Away” might be the song of choice. For the third consecutive week, the Hawks suffered a one-point loss, falling to Class 3A Region 7 opponent Sumiton Christian 32-31 last Friday night on the road.
The game started badly for Danville as the Hawks lost a fumble on their second play from scrimmage. Sumiton Christian took advantage of the turnover at midfield by driving 49 yards on nine plays with Eagle quarterback Matthew Patterson going in from a yard out for the touchdown. The extra point by Rueben Lovett was good and with 7:15 left in the opening period, Sumiton Christian had a 7-0 lead.
The key play in the drive was a 22-yard pass from Patterson to Justin Craig allowing the Eagles to convert on third-and-12.
The ensuing kick went out of bounds giving the Hawks a first-and-10 at their own 35. The Danville offense, attempting to atone for the turnover a possession earlier, drove 65 yards in 11 plays to tie the score at 7-all. John Dalton got the touchdown on a 9-yard run. The biggest play of the drive, however, occurred a play earlier as Dalton connected with senior wide receiver Trent Potter for a gain of 11 yards on fourth-and-8 to set up Dalton’s run. Dalton had another fine night for the Hawks, gaining 82 yards on 16 carries while throwing for 159 yards.
Sumiton Christian scored its next touchdown midway through the second quarter on a 16-yard Justin Craig pass to Chris Crawford. Lovett’s extra point was good giving the Eagles a 14-7 lead.
The rest of the period belonged to the Hawks as Danville recorded a safety and touchdown in the last two minutes to give the Hawks a 15-14 lead going into the locker room. Craig was tackled in the end zone after a bad snap to give the Hawks two points. Dalton took the free kick and raced down the left sideline 62 yards to give the Hawks a first-and-goal at the Sumiton 3. Danville running back Craig Orr gained two yards on first down but losses of six and two yards on the next two plays gave the Hawks a seemingly hopeless fourth-and-goal at the Eagle 9. But Dalton found a wide-open David Long (3 catches for 78 yards) in the end zone and despite not converting the two-point attempt, the Hawks had their first lead of the night at 15-14.
Sumiton Christian received the kick to open the second half and the Eagles wasted little time regaining the lead, going 57 yards in four plays. The touchdown came on a 34-yard Craig pass to Crawford. The Eagles’ two-point try failed but with 10:13 left in the third Sumiton led 20-15.
The two teams then traded punts giving Danville a first-and-10 at their own 43. The Hawks would retake the lead on Dalton’s second touchdown run of the evening. The run covered four yards. Danville converted their try for two as Dalton hit Jason Kilgore in the end zone to give the Hawks a 23-20 lead with 3:59 left in the third quarter.
Just as they did on their opening drive of the half, the Eagles answered with a touchdown of their own. They drove 54 yards on 7 plays with Craig running in from the 5. Sumiton’s extra point was blocked but the Eagles were once again in the lead with 54 seconds left in the third quarter.
The opening play of the final period was a disaster for Danville as Sumiton forced a Hawk turnover at the Danville 23. The Hawk defense rose to the occasion and kept Sumiton out of the end zone to keep the Hawks in the game.
After swapping punts, the Danville offense put together one of the team’s most exciting drives of the season, going 91 yards in six plays to take a 29-26 lead with just 3:38 remaining. The big play of the drive was a fourth-and-1 pass from Dalton to Long. Long caught the ball and ran down the sideline for a gain of 62 yards to give the Hawks a first-and-goal at the Sumiton five. The next play saw freshman running back Levi George get the Danville touchdown on a five-yard run. George also ran in the two-point try to give Danville a 31-26 lead.
A short kick gave Sumiton the ball at their own 41. Craig lined up in the shotgun but was sacked for a loss of two yards on first down. An incompletion followed and Sumiton was faced with a third-and-12 at their own 39. Craig then found Crawford for a gain of 20 yards to keep the Eagle drive alive. The next six plays were all runs by Craig. The last run broke the hearts of Danville fans as Craig ran 11 yards for what proved to be the winning touchdown. The try for two was no good but Sumiton led 32-31 with 1:10 left in the game.
As in the previous two games this year, the Hawks would drive into their opponent’s territory but fall short. Danville would get two first downs but an interception on second and long at the Sumiton 39 ended the Hawk threat. Craig took a knee and the Eagles then began to celebrate their 32-31 victory.
With the loss, Danville falls to 0-2 in the region and 0-3 overall. The Hawks will host Vinemont Friday night at 7 p.m. as they look for their first win of the season.

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