Making plays and limiting mistakes was the theme of the game for the Danville Admirals Friday night as they avenged a regular season loss to Lexington Christian, beating the undefeated Eagles 34-28.
With the win, Danville knocked LCA out of the playoffs for the second year in row, this time in a matchup where turnovers were the Eagles’ downfall.
“It all boils down to just making plays in the times and opportunities you got them. You gotta play mistake-free football down towards the end and for that, we didn’t do it,” LCA head coach Ethan Atchley said.
It seemed like LCA was in complete control as it drove down the field to the Danville goal line, but that was when the mistakes began.
LCA quarterback Brayden Miller swung the ball out to running back Dillon Wheatley, but Danville’s Dmauriae VanCleave caught it in stride for a pick-six to put the Admirals in front 7-0.
Wheatley and Miller responded with another drive that put LCA on the goal line. This time Wheatley took it in himself to tie up the game.
LCA’s momentum was short-lived though, as VanCleave came up big once again, returning the kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown to retake the lead for Danville.
“We had 14 points and hadn’t run an offensive play yet,” Danville head coach Clay Clevenger said. “(VanCleave) is as good a big-play guy as I’ve ever coached. When he gets those opportunities, he normally makes the most of them.”
LCA tied the game at 14-all just before halftime on another Wheatley rushing touchdown. LCA out-gained the Admirals 278 yards to 119 and ran 46 plays to 23 for Danville in the first half but a few crucial mistakes kept prevented the Eagles from building a lead.
In the second half Danville’s offense came alive, as senior quarterback Zack Dampier kept the Admirals ahead with three second-half passing touchdowns.
After the first score of the half from the Admirals, an LCA fumble allowed Danville to jump out to a two-score lead. The Eagles put up two more scores, but their comeback effort fell short as Dampier added another TD for Danville to put the game out of reach with the clock winding down.
returns a majority of it’s core and be ready next year with more experience.
Atchley said the future is bright for the Eagles, who will return the majority of a core that gained great experience this season.
“We return a lot. We return nearly everything on offense, but one guy. All our skill kids come back. Defensively, we miss a few key spots but we have a lot of young guys with a ton of experience,” Atchley said. “We were able to play a lot of kids with a lot of depth that were young, and kids that play with a lot of heart. So for that, I’m ecstatic.”