LOUDONVILLE – For almost two full quarters, the Loudonville Redbirds played up to the level of unbeaten Danville.
But, like a pool hall hustler who had been toying with his opponent, the Blue Devils suddenly launched into the level of football they’ve played all season. They scored touchdowns on each of their last six drives to pull away from the overwhelmed Redbirds, 52-15, in Loudonville’s Homecoming game Friday.
For the second straight week, Danville allowed an early touchdown. Loudonville took the opening kickoff and drove 67 yards on 10 plays, capping the drive with a five-yard touchdown pass from Matt Sprang to Baylor Weiser.
The quick score irked Danville coach Matt Blum, who reminded his team in the postgame huddle despite the celebration from a 37-point victory.
“Loudonville came out hot. They were doing some good things on offense, doing things we weren’t expecting. I credit their coaching staff to counter our type of game,” Blum said. “But, to counter that, I thought our kids did a nice job adjusting when we needed them to.”
Danville (6-0, 3-0 KMAC) has won games all season with quick strikes. The Devils added to that reputation at Loudonville with five scoring plays of 20 yards or more.
The first came on a 41-yard pass from Walker Weckesser to Bryer Boeshart. Weckesser also found Nate Stephens for touchdowns of 31 and 33 yards.
But many of the most exciting plays of the game came from Cole Delaughder. The senior scored on a rushing touchdown of 23 yards on a sweep, five yards on a plow up the middle and 29 yards on a bolt through a hole in the line.
He also had a 51-yard run to set up his short touchdown run.
Delaughder’s most memorable play came on the first play of the fourth quarter. With the ball at the Loudonville 19, Delaughder took the direct snap and ran toward the line.
Then, doing his best impression of Tim Tebow at Florida, Delaughder threw a perfect jump-pass to Josh Byers, who ran past would-be tacklers for the score. That gave Danville a 46-15 lead and set a running clock for the rest of the game.
“They were all biting on the run, so it was wide open. It was pretty sweet,” Delaughder said. “Everybody’s being unselfish. Everybody is celebrating the success of others … They can’t key on one player, so they have trouble stopping us.”
Oh, and Delaughder ran for four two-point conversions. And he collected a pair of sacks on consecutive plays.
After its opening possession, Loudonville (2-4, 1-2) managed just one total yard over the next four possessions.
The ‘Birds had just two drives with multiple first downs in the second half: One led to a one-yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak by Sprang, and the other ended when time ran out before they could score.
Sprang struggled to find open receivers, mainly due to the multiple Blue Devils who chased him in the backfield.
Sprang was sacked five times, including sacks by Boeshart, Caleb Lucas and freshman Owen Gronberg. Sprang threw two interceptions, one each to Boeshart and Jacob Hackman.
“This is a deep unit. We feel comfortable playing seven or eight guys, rotating them in,” Blum said of his defensive line. “We try to stay fresh. That was the biggest thing. I think that’s why we’re 6-0. We have a lot of guys playing each week.”
Danville hosts Cardington-Lincoln for Homecoming next week. Loudonville travels to Fredericktown.