DANVILLE — Tradition football purists had to do a double take when the Danville Vikings took the field for offense on Friday night.
Junior Devin Miles, who played quarterback last week, returned to his tradition running back position, while junior Eric Turner Jr., wearing No. 30, lined up in the quarterback position.
It was not only Turner’s first-ever start at quarterback, but it was his first-ever start on the offensive side of the football.
If Friday’s 53-22 triumph over the Urbana Tigers is any indication, fans are going to get used to see old No. 30 playing quarterback this season.
“I felt really good with the tempo that we played,’’ Danville coach Marcus Forrest said. “We got back to what we expected from this team before the season stared. We were a team tonight that was flying around, both offensively and defensively.
“I thought (Turner) was going to pass out before the game, he was so nervous. Thankfully, we were on defense first. He was able to be out, playing physical and it helped him to calm down. He got his first run and he was off and going.’’
That’s because on Danville’s first offensive possession, the Vikings only needed three plays to cover 56 yards for the game’s opening score, which was a 48-yard run from Turner on his first-ever offensive touch.
“There is a lot of pressure being the quarterback, but coach said I could do it,’’ said Turner, who finished with 142 rushing yards on just six carries. “Devin made a good block on the linebacker and I just cut off of him. There was open grass after that and I just ran for the end zone.’’
Already sounding like a seasoned quarterback with some praise for his blockers.
“I kind of wished that we would have played Eric at quarterback last week, but he wasn’t ready,’’ Forrest said. “This was a better time to bring him over to the offensive side of the ball. He was able to lead the offense like we expected from our quarterbacks. He was able to command the offense and the kids trust him to be able to do good things.
“Eric is also a very athletic kid, so it gives us two really athletic kids in the backfield.’’
And those to athletic kids gave the Urbana defenders plenty of trouble
For the second game in a row, Miles went over the 200-yard rushing mark. He finished with 207 on 15 carries and he had touchdown runs of 37, 40, 42 and 16 yards.
“Devin is a running back and not a quarterback,’’ said Forrest, noting that Miles completed just 3-of-10 passes for 6 yards last week. “Having another athlete like Eric Turner back there takes pressure off of Devin. It allows us to be more than one dimensional on offense.
“I think some of Devin’s big runs were because of the defense being worried about Eric and some of Eric’s big runs were because they were worried about Devin. We don’t want defenses to be able to focus on just one guy. Hopefully, we can get our passing game going a little more next week.’’
Turner did complete 1 of 4 passes and it went for a 64-yard touchdown to Tomas Reed, but just like the three completions for Miles last week, it was a pass behind the line of scrimmage. A combination of good blocks and an elusive run by Reed accounted for the 64 yards.
“It’s still a lot of fun to throw the ball to your guy and watch him run down the sideline,’’ Turner said. “It was really fun celebrating that score.’’
Forrest also pointed out that Turner had at least two other passes that could have been receptions, but the timing between the new quarterback and the receivers was just a little bit off.
“Those are things that we will keep working on,’’ he said.
Friday night wasn’t only a big night for the Vikings on the offensive side of the football
Senior defensive end John Ward, playing on his birthday, was a disruptive force all night long for the Vikings.
Ward, unofficially, finished with two sacks and two tackles for loss, as Danville held Urbana to 282 yards of total offense — 114 of those coming against the Viking reserves in the fourth quarter.
“He played extremely well,’’ Forrest said. “He is one of those kids that we know has been consistent from first day of practice to now. Last year, he was a little out of position at linebacker, so we got him back to defensive end this year and he’s doing everything we’ve asked from him.’’
And what did the team give Ward for his birthday?
“It was probably the best present that I could get,’’ he said. “All I wanted for my birthday was to play hard with my teammates, have a good game and get the win.’’
But, Ward wasn’t completely satisfied?
“I think I needed to do a better job,’’ he said. “As a defense, we went out and flew around, but we still gave up a couple of big plays. We need to eliminate all of those type of plays.’’
Turner wasn’t the only Viking to score on his first career offensive play.
Freshman quarterback Bryson Hinton-Perez had a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for Danville.
Danville, which improves to 1-1 overall and 1-1 in the Big 12, will hit the road for its next three games starting with a contest next Friday at Normal West. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.