Nathan Hazlett wasn’t dressed when the Danville football team kicked off against cross-town rival Boyle County on Thursday night. He was two and a half miles away at Boyle County playing for Danville’s soccer team.
Hazlett showed up at halftime, his Admirals trailing 7-0. About 45 minutes later he booted the game-winning field goal from about 45 yards out with 40 seconds left to give Danville a 10-7 victory, its second straight in one of Central Kentucky’s best rivalries.
“It meant a lot for me and the guys on the team,” said Hazlett, a junior. “I was pretty nervous, but I kicked it and it just went through.”
Hazlett is a starter for Danville’s soccer team, which fell 3-2. The conflict in his schedule arose from the decision to move the football game because of Friday’s forecast of severe weather.
Never miss a local story.
“That was a little hard,” Hazlett said of playing an 80-minute soccer game before putting on pads. “ … It took a toll on my legs.”
Danville Coach Clay Clevenger thought if both teams could get past the early emotion of the rivalry, it would end up being “a dogfight.” Hazlett hadn’t been in such a tight situation before, but Clevenger knew he had the leg to make it happen.
“It’s at the point where you know he’s got the leg and you don’t know if you’re gonna get any more opportunities for it. You’ve gotta try and go for it,” Clevenger said of the decision to kick a field goal rather than try another fourth-down play. “We knew we had a little breeze to our back as well, and he lined it up and nailed it through.
“It was ice in the veins right there. And it’s funny, that was the best protection we’ve had on any PAT or field goal all year. They gave him plenty of time, he stepped up in there, got a good hold and knocked it through.”
A fumble recovery sealed the deal for the Admirals, who were bitten by turnovers themselves throughout the night. They lost three fumbles, including one inside the Boyle County 10-yard line with 3:33 left in the game and another in the first quarter inside Boyle’s 5-yard line.
Danville helped its turnover differential with a couple of interceptions by senior David Walker. The second one proved more pivotal, after which Danville took a knee to complete the first half. Walker picked off Boyle quarterback Reed Lanter on a fourth-down pass attempt from Danville’s 3-yard line and returned it about 20 yards; he later caught a 37-yard pass from Zach Thornton to help tie the game at 7-7.
“He has a tendency to make big plays in big games and he did that for us tonight,” Clevenger said of Walker.
The Admirals improved to 3-0. Boyle County fell to 2-1. Danville travels to Pulaski County next Friday; Boyle County hosts Wayne County.