CHATHAM — Any hopes for the Danville Vikings upsetting the second-ranked Glenwood Titans were severely damaged in the game’s first five minutes.
Glenwood scored 14 points on just 17 plays from scrimmage on its way to a 56-20 triumph over Danville in the IHSA Class 6A playoffs.
“We just came out a little flat,’’ said Danville senior Delrey Crowder. “There wasn’t just one reason for the slow start, it was a lot of different things.’’
In those first 17 plays of the game, Danville ran only one which resulted in the game’s first turnover on a fumble.
Against a team like Glenwood, which had a plus-13 in turnover ratio during the season, it was the worst possible scenario for the Danville. The Titans, which took a 7-0 lead on an 11-yard run by quarterback Luke Lehnen, made it 14-0 with 7 minutes, 25 seconds left in the first quarter on a 1-yard plunge from Lehnen.
“That not only took the wind out of our offense, but it also took the wind out of our quarterback,’’ said Danville coach Marcus Forrest. “I know he was looking back at that miscue for most of the game and that kind of threw him off.’’
It seemed like Danville was going to right the ship when Devin Miles scored the first of his three touchdowns on a 4-yard run through the middle of the Glenwood defense.
“We definitely didn’t come out like we’ve done in our last six or seven games,’’ said Miles, who finished with 192 yards on 24 carries. “We said all week that we had to get off to a good start. They came out and played harder than us.
“We expected them to come out strong, but we were supposed to come out and match their intensity, but that didn’t happen.’
The Titans (10-0) went on to score 21 unanswered points to finish the first half with a 35-6 advantage.
“We just gave them too much early,’’ said Danville senior Bennie Harris. “I know that everyone got frustrated with the start, because each one of us was off a little on certain plays. That just really messed us up.
“At halftime, we remember that we started this journey as a team and we were going to finish it as a team.’’
On the very first play of the second half, Miles had one of his trademark dashes to the end zone.
He went left, read the blocks, cut back a little to the middle and then just found yards of green grass between himself and the end zone, 64 yards later, Danville had pulled within 35-12.
“We were determined in the second half to leave everything we had on that field,’’ Crowder said. “Coach told us to keep our heads up and we weren’t going to quit until all of the time had expired in the fourth quarter.
“We got a little something going, but we just couldn’t sustain it enough to come back and get the win.’’
After running for more than 200 yards in the first half, Glenwood turned to its passing attack in the second half.
Lehnen, who rushed for four scores, connected with Eli Vogler and Tyler Burris for touchdown passes of 42 and 28 yards.
“They are a pretty good football team,’’ Forrest said. “Are they a football team that we can’t compete with? No, they aren’t. I know a lot of our guys feel that way.
“We finished better than we started, but we were in so much of a hole, it was a struggle.’’
Glenwood, which has outscored its opponents 456-85 coming into Saturday’s playoff game, were extremely used to playing with a lead, which is normal for an undefeated squad.
“They met us at the line and they had that extra push that we have usually had here recently, but we didn’t get that until the second half,’’ Forrest said.
Miles capped his seventh game of 100 or more rushing yards this season with a 27-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The junior, who rushed for 989 yards a year ago, ends his junior campaign with 1,426 yards and 26 rushing touchdowns.
“It was a good year, but I didn’t want it to end this year,’’ he said.
That was the feeling from all 33 Danville players that made the trip to Chatham.
“I’m not upset with the season being over, I’m upset that we don’t have another week to coach these guys, especially these seniors,’’ Forrest said. “We enjoyed the way that those guys have grown into this program. They have helped establish a strong foundation for what we can do.’’
The six Danville seniors who played their final game for the Vikings were Crowder, Harris, John Ward, Braxtyn Schroeder, Rashad Skinner and D.J. Barnette.
“I’m extremely proud of them and its extremely emotional when you see how well this group did and how much they grew over the season,’’ said Forrest, trying to hold back his emotions.
But, as he added, “I’m not sure that anyone expected us to even be here after the way our season started in Bloomington.’’
The Vikings suffered a 36-0 loss to the Purple Raiders in the season opener and they were 1-2 on the year after a 29-7 loss to Normal West in Week 3. After that, Danville won five of six, to finish fourth in the Big 12 Conference and secure the program’s third playoff berth in the last four years.
“This is something that we can learn from, to see what they did and how they did it,’’ Forrest said. “That’s how what we want to do consistently.’’
Glenwood, which has 23 seniors on its roster, will advance to play Lemont, a 52-14 winner over Springfield High, in the second round of the IHSA Class 6A Playoffs.