Danville falls short at Hatton
By By Paul Wilson, For the Enquirer
HATTON - Two long touchdowns and a safety were part of a big third quarter enabling the Hatton Hornets to open the season with a 23-19 victory over the visiting Danville Hawks.
After an early score gave Danville the lead, the Hawks would fall behind by as many as 10 points on two separate occasions in the third period before a fourth quarter rally fell short.
The Danville defense got off to a great start as freshman linebacker Jordon Orr intercepted a Devin Parker pass on Hatton’s opening possession to give the Hawks great field position at the Hornet 29.
It didn’t take the Danville offense long to take advantage of their opportunity. On second-and-15, junior quarterback Tyler Beck lofted a pass towards the end zone for Clint McAbee, who broke away from his defender and caught the ball in stride taking it into the end zone for the touchdown.
Parker Hogan’s PAT was good and with 9:36 left in the first quarter Danville led 7-0.
The next scoring opportunity for either team did not come until early in the second period after a 24-yard Hatton punt return gave the Hornets the football at the Danville 24.
Parker gained two yards on first down but the Hawk defense forced a fumble on the next play turning the ball over to Danville at its own 20. The Hawk offense could not move the football and after a 26-yard punt by Beck, Hatton once again had good field position at the Danville 46.
The Hornets would not waste this chance as they went 46 yards in six plays with Parker getting the touchdown on a 3-yard run. Hatton went for two and converted on a pass from Parker to Steadman Rutherford making the score 8-7 in favor of the Hornets midway through the second quarter.
Danville threatened to regain the lead on its final possession of the half, driving from their own 25 to the Hatton 10. Beck helped his own cause on the drive, completing passes of 19 and 29 yards on back-to-back plays to Schuyler Forman and Clint McAbee, respectively.
The pass to Forman came on a third-and-4 while McAbee’s catch gave the Hawks a first down at the Hornet 21. Unfortunately for Danville, the drive stalled and Beck’s fourth-and-goal pass from the 19 was intercepted in the end zone to end the Hawk scoring threat.
Danville took the ball to start the second half. A 10-yard run by Orr gave the Hawks a first down at midfield but the drive stalled and Danville had to punt. The Hatton offense came out strong, going 80 yards in only three plays. The Hornet touchdown came on a 79-yard pass from Parker to Chase Martin. Tyler Perry added the PAT to give Hatton a 15-7 lead with 6:57 left in the third.
Things went from bad to worse for Danville as the Hawk offense was unable to move the football on their next possession. Attempting to punt from his own 18, Beck was forced to kick the ball out the back of his own end zone following a high snap. The play resulted in a safety extending Hatton’s lead to 17-7 with 4:51 left in the third quarter.
Despite having excellent field position following the free kick, Hatton was unable to move the ball turning it over on downs at the Danville 48. The game looked like it was about to get away from the Hornets when, two plays later, the Hatton defense came up with an interception near midfield.
The Danville defense, as it had the previous possession, stopped the Hornets cold, allowing zero yards on three plays.
The Danville special teams brought the Hawk crowd to their feet with McAbee returning the Hatton punt 77 yards for a touchdown. McAbee caught the line drive on the dead run and with the help of a couple of key blocks he raced up the middle of the field to put the Hawks back in the game. Hogan’s PAT was blocked but with 1:00 left in the third Danville now trailed 17-13.
The Danville excitement was short-lived as Hatton’s Tevin Terrell ran 61 yards for a touchdown on the Hornets first play from scrimmage. Perry’s PAT was no good but Hatton once again had a ten point lead (23-13) late in the third period.
After gaining only three yards in the third quarter, the Hawk offense came alive in the final period. Taking over at its own 13, Danville drove 87 yards in 11 plays with Orr scoring on an 8-yard run. The PAT was no good, but with 6:39 left in the game, the Hawks had cut Hatton’s lead to four at 23-19.
Beck completed passes to three different receivers during the drive connecting with McAbee for nine yards, Blake Randolph for 16 and Jesse Posey for 35. The pass to Posey came on a third-and-6 and gave Danville a first down inside the Hornet 10. Two plays later, Orr scored.
The Hawks would get the ball back one more time but the comeback attempt ended when Hatton’s Nathan Liles intercepted a pass and Hatton was able to run out the clock for the win.
For the game, Danville had 14 first downs to 10 for Hatton. Hatton did outgain the Hawks 331 yards to 269.
Individually for Danville, junior Levi George led all rushers with 36 yards. George also had 20 yards receiving.
Beck threw for 206 yards completing 15-of-29 passes for a touchdown. McAbee led Danville receivers with six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Danville (0-1) will open region play tomorrow night at home against the Hanceville Bulldogs (0-1).
Kickoff for the game will be at 7 pm.