For two quarters of action, Mount Gilead and Danville played an evenly-matched football game with both teams mustering 21 points in the first half.
Unfortunately for the Indians, turnovers changed all of that in the second half. MG had five possessions during the course of the third and fourth quarters and all five ended with turnovers to allow the Blue Devils to finish on top by a 35-21 margin.
“That’s probably the only good quote I can give you,” said Indian coach Mike Reid. “If you turn the ball over, you can’t win the ball game.”
Initially, the MG defense prevented the team from being hurt by turnovers in the third quarter. Danville took the opening possession of the period, but was forced to punt. After an Indian fumble, the Blue Devils started from the Indian 35, but the defense stepped up again and forced Danville to lose the ball on downs.
However, an interception would set Danville up on the Indian 31 and they would take advantage of good field position this time, scoring on a 14-yard carry by Deion Parker to jump in front 28-21 in the final minute of the third quarter.
Mount Gilead would fumble the ball away again in Danville territory — a miscue that set the stage for Blue Devil quarterback Max Payne to find an opening to run 41 yards for the game’s final touchdown. The Indians had two more opportunities, but one drive quickly turned into a fumble, while the other went from the MG 2 into Danville territory before an interception effectively put an end to the game.
Those turnovers were tough to take for Reid simply because his team went into the locker room at halftime with momentum after getting out to a slow start. Mount Gilead went three-and-out on their first two possessions and Danville responded after the second Indian punt with a quick touchdown off a 77-yard run by Kaiden Colopy.
That play served to wake up the Indian offense, though, leading to a very entertaining rest of the first half. Facing third-and-seven from their own 40, Mount Gilead struck when Elijah Chafin hit Owen High for a 60-yard scoring play to tie things up at 7-7 after Garrett Lamb-Hart hit the first of three extra-point kicks.
Danville responded with a touchdown drive, but missed the extra point to lead 13-7 with 2:18 left in the opening period. That advantage wouldn’t last until the end of the quarter, though. It looked like MG would go three-and-out, but Danville was called for roughing the kicker on a punt and the Indians took advantage of the mistake.
Carter Kennon connected with Logan High on a pass that went for 48 yards and a touchdown, giving their team a 14-13 lead in the final seconds of the first.
After Danville turned the ball over on downs and Mount Gilead punted, the Blue Devils scored again on a 34-yard pass from Payne to Wyatt Weckesser and got a two-point conversion to lead 21-14. However, the Indians responded with a strong possession on the ground. Garrett George ran for 46 yards on five carries and Kyan Davis finished the drive with a five-yard run to tie things up at 21-21.
Kennon would then pick off Payne, but MG couldn’t quite go 73 yards in 30 seconds, although they gave it a good effort, getting 14 yards from George, nine from Davis and 11 from Kennon on the ground and a 22-yard pass from Kennon to Chafin to take the ball inside the Danville 15 on the final play of the quarter.
“We didn’t start oout well offensively, but we made adjustments and the boys were able to bounce back,” said Reid. “But when we got things figured out defensively, then the turnovers happened.”
Reid is hoping his team can bounce back from their miscues when they travel to Cardington for the final game of the season. The coach knows that with this being the big rivalry game, there shouldn’t be any problems with motivation.
“They should be excited,” he said. “Coach Brininger has his guys fired up at Cardington. They’ll be up for the game and we better be up. We hope to get a win there, but their record doesn’t indicate how they’ve played.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS