Falkville shuts out Danville in season opener
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Falkville's Blue Devils scored on three of their first five possessions, after fumbling away the ball on their first play from scrimmage, and went on to shutout Danville's Hawks 21-0 in a season-opener for both teams at Smith-Owens Stadium Thursday night.
The Blue Devils won the coin toss and opted to take the ball. Their decision almost backfired. On their first play from scrimmage, a lateral pass from quarterback Jonathan McNatt to running back Dustin Jump was fumbled and Jason Kilgore recovered for Danville.
The Hawks put the ball in the hands of their running back Levi George and he responded by picking up 29 yards on four carries and moving the ball to Falkville's 29-yard line. But that's as far as they would get and the closest they'd come to reaching their opponent's end zone for the rest of the game.
Running back Dustin Jump broke the game open with a 50-yard touchdown run on Falkville's second possession. Jace Wilemon booted the extra point to make the score 7-0 with 4:45 left in the first period.
"I took a pitch on an option play and saw a hole open up on the sideline. When I saw my blockers setting up downfield all I had to do was change direction and follow them into the end zone" is how Jump described his run.
McNatt darted up the middle on a keeper play to cap a 77-yard drive in 12 plays the next time his team had the ball. His touchdown run covered 16 yard and came on a third-and-goal play. Wilemon converted the extra point to make the score 14-0 with 10:29 left in the second quarter.
The Blue Devils scored again with 3:22 left in the first half on a 22-yard pass from McNatt to wide receiver Steven Lindsey. The touchdown capped a 39-yard drive in four plays. Wilemon kicked the extra point to make the score 21-0.
Turnovers took away from the offensive production of both teams. Danville had five turnovers on fumbles and Falkville lost the ball three times on fumbles and once on a pass interception.
Falkville's biggest scoring threat in the second half followed a fumbled kick-off return by the Hawks. The Blue Devils took over 26 yards from pay dirt and reached the eight before they had to give up the ball on downs. The Hawks crossed midfield only once.
"Fortunately, when we turned the ball over it was on our end of the field," said Falkville head coach Neil Estes. "We had several young kids out there. They (Danville) put the hat on the ball and it popped out. That's something we've got to improve on before our next game."
"A win is a win no matter when and where it comes," he added. "But when you can win the first game of the season against a rival opponent, it's icing on the cake."
Linebacker/punter Brandon Clark said the shutout win is going to fire up the defense and make it work harder to get ready for the next game.
"We read in the newspapers all week about last year's win being a fluke," he stated. "That motivated us to go out and prove them wrong."
Jump paced Falkville's ground game by gaining 101 yards on 11 caries and scoring a touchdown. Ellis followed with 49 yards on eight carries. McNatt rushed for 44 yards on 11 carries and scored a touchdown and completed six of 10 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. Lindsey caught three passes for 45 yards and a touchdown.
George led Danville's offense with 86 yards rushing on 17 carries.