DANVILLE — Cardington started off strong taking an 8-0 lead, but a relentless Blue Devil attack got rolling and resulted in a 40-26 Division VII, Region 27 second round playoff defeat for the Pirates.
In a rematch of a week two KMAC contest won by Danville 30-22, the hosts piled up 446 total yards to end Cardington’s (4-4) playoff run.
“Their D-line and their O-line beat us up again. They put some new plays in and some passes, some counter stuff and passes off the bunch (formation) that we hadn’t seen before,” Cardington head coach Tod Brininger said.
“I thought we did a good job in the first quarter against their running game, but they started throwing the ball on us a little bit and it opened up their running game. They’re a good team.”
The Blue Devils (5-2) gave up a safety when quarterback Max Payne was tackled in the end zone.
The Pirates followed that up with a four-play, 45-yard drive for a touchdown. Nate Hickman hit Garrett Thompson for a 32-yard score. That was set up by a Zach Lester interception.
That put Cardington on top 8-0 with 2:38 to play in the opening quarter.
Quarterback Max Payne led his team, throwing for 254 yards on 16-of-26 passing, and three touchdowns.
His TD toss to Kaiden Colopy covered 45 yards and cut the lead to 8-6 at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter saw the Blue Devils score three times. A Colopy 13-yard scamper, a Deion Parker four-yard run and a Payne to Colopy 15-yard strike to make it 27-8 at halftime.
The second scoring drive went 75 yards in eight plays.
“I don’t think they’re a good match-up for us, line wise, to be honest, and they’re quick. I don’t think we could have done much more. They just played a really good game,” Brininger said.
Hickman connected on 10-of-23 pass attempts for 181 yards, with Lester catching two balls for 48 yards, Thompson two for 47 , four for 35.
Cardington rallied in the third quarter on a 22-yard score from Hickman to Trey Brininger, along with the duo adding a two-point conversion.
That cut the margin to 34-14, but Danville answered quickly.
Payne hit Colopy on a 10-yard pass and ran in from a yard out before Hickman closed the scoring in the fourth quarter on a 24-yard scamper.
“We didn’t tackle Payne or No. 21 (Parker) very well. We had shots at him in the backfield and at the line of scrimmage. We worked on it. They’ve both got a low center of gravity.”
Payne added 97 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown for Danville. As a team the Blue Devils ran the ball 31 times for 192 yards.
Starting middle linebacker/tailback Joe Denney tore ligaments in his ankle the previous week and was out of action.
“Joe would solidify things. He’s a really good tackler. We just didn’t tackle well and they’re shifty.”
Cardington has two regular season games remaining.
“I told them we’re not done yet. We got a couple games left,” Brininger said. “I can’t say enough about our guys.”
Cardington was flagged six times for 50 yards, less than half of what it committed in the first contest.
But Danville converted six of nine third-down attempts, which was a key in keeping drives alive.
“They picked up third and nine, third and 10, third and 11. They hit the bubble screen with No. 45 even though we knew they were going to him,” Brininger said.
“They got a lot better over the year and I think we did too. We just couldn’t stop them when we needed to.”
Ayden Plowman led the Pirates ground attack with 12 carries for 36 yards.
Danville hosts Newark Catholic Friday night after beating Conotton Valley 42-6.