Dalton makes big play for winning Hawks
Paul Wilson, Enquirer Correspondent
A 1-yard John Dalton run with a little more than three minutes left in the game allowed the Danville Hawks to come from behind and defeat the Good Hope Raiders 12-7 last Friday night at Smith-Owens Stadium in Danville.
"John is an excellent athlete. He really came through for us tonight," said Hawk head coach Joey Burch.
Dalton's run capped a wild fourth quarter that saw Good Hope take the lead on a 46-yard run by wingback Justin Ray. The extra point by Todd Anderson was good giving the Raiders a 7-6 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Coach Burch said, "I thought our young kids responded well in the fourth quarter. Last week when Sulligent took the lead we sort of lost our composure. Tonight though we were able to regroup and come back."
The first half was a defensive battle to say the least. The two teams combined for just eight first downs and 130 yards of offense.
Despite having excellent field position for most of the half, Danville struggled, gaining only 16 yards rushing and 21 yards passing. In fact, Danville's best weapon in the opening half was the leg of junior punter John Dalton.
Besides rushing for 105 yards on 21 carries, Dalton averaged nearly 40 yards on three punts in the first half. Each team let an opportunity for points slip away. Danville had a first-and-10 at the Raider 19 following a poor snap on a punt. Freshman running back Craig Orr was unable to find any running room on first and second down. Consecutive incompletions gave Good Hope the football at its own 20.
The Raiders then put together the best drive of the half as fullback Todd Anderson carried the ball on three consecutive plays gaining 15, 13 and 38 yards respectively to give Good Hope the ball at the Danville 14. Here though the Hawk defense stiffened, forcing Good Hope to turn the ball over on downs at the Danville 15.
"Except for those three runs, I thought our defense played extremely well in the first half," Coach Burch said.
After stopping the Raiders on downs the Hawks ran out the clock and headed to the locker room locked in a scoreless battle with their Class 3A, Region 7 opponents from Cullman County.
The third quarter saw every down played on the Good Hope side of the field. Unfortunately, the Hawks could manage just six points with Orr getting the touchdown on a powerful 10-yard run. The nine-play 43-yard drive was aided by a pass interference call against Good Hope on fourth-and-nine, giving Danville a first down at the Raider 15.
Two plays later Orr burst through the middle of the line for the touchdown. The extra point failed but the Hawks had a 6-0 lead late in the 3rd quarter.
Talking about Orr's play Coach Burch said, "Craig is a big, strong running back. I thought he played well on both offense and defense tonight."
Following a recovery of the kick return, the Raiders began their only scoring drive of the night at their own 28. The third quarter ended with Good Hope facing a third-and-four at their own 34-yard line.
Raider quarterback Ryan Hodges brought the visiting crowd to its feet as he found a wide open Justin Wise for 24 yards and a Good Hope first down at the Hawk 46. Two plays later the Good Hope crowd had even more to cheer as Ray ran 46 yards for the tying touchdown.
Anderson's kick was good and with 10:58 left in the game, Good Hope had taken a 7-6 lead. The two teams exchanged punts before the Hawks began their winning drive going 49 yards in eight plays. Dalton, who scored the go-ahead touchdown, gained 46 of his 105 yards on the drive. The two-point try failed but Danville had retaken the lead 12-7.
A 38-yard kick return by Anderson gave Good Hope excellent field position at the Hawk 47. The Raiders were able to drive to the Danville 26 but a tough Danville defense and a third down holding penalty proved too much for Good Hope to overcome.
Danville took over at its own 44 after a fourth down sack of Hodges. The Hawk offense then ran most of the remaining time off the clock before punting the ball back to Good Hope. Only seven seconds remained and a desperation pass by Hodges fell incomplete, giving Danville its first region win of the year. Commenting on the win Coach Burch said, "It was a big win for us especially since we were 0-1 in the region coming into the game."
With the win Danville is now 2-1 on the year overall and 1-1 in Class 3A Region 7. Good Hope falls to 0-3, 0-2. The Hawks will hit the road for the first time next Friday night as Danville will travel to Vinemont for another region game.
"Next week's game will be another big region game as both us an Vinemont will be 1-1," Coach Burch said.
Kick off is at 7 p.m.
Extra points: Jeremy Orr is no longer with the Danville football team.
Coach Burch declined further comment on the matter.