DANVILLE – The only thing Matt Blum was missing was a magic wand.
The head coach of the Danville Blue Devils went deep into his bag of tricks against Northmor on Friday. Two onside kicks. A fake punt. A double-reverse. A wishbone on a two-point conversion.
But Danville’s best trick was making Northmor’s offense disappear in a 32-21 home victory.
The Blue Devils ran more than twice as many plays as the Knights. Danville had four different drives with 10 or more plays – all of which ended in touchdowns – to keep the ball away from Northmor.
“We knew this was a big game,” Blum said. “We knew we had to pull out all the stops. Our kids played hard. I’m proud of them.”
Danville’s quick-scoring offense, which was on display in the first four weeks of the season, took a back seat to a slower, more methodical style in Week 5. A 15-play drive in the first quarter ended with a two-yard touchdown run by Cole Delaughder.
That was immediately followed by an onside kick and recovery by Walker Weckesser, who then led the Devils on a seven-play drive ending in a 42-yard touchdown pass to Nate Stephens – their longest gain of the night.
Danville’s next drive was another 15-play marathon, kept alive by a first down run on a fake punt by Delaughder. Weckesser scored on a 17-yard run to give the Devils a 20-7 halftime lead.
The Blue Devils’ defense harassed Northmor quarterback AJ Bower all night. They managed just three sacks but kept Bower scrambling on most passing plays.
The secondary had several passes tipped away, though the Knights still managed to score two touchdowns on throws that were tipped to the receivers.
Weckesser and Delaughder scored on short runs in the fourth quarter to wrap up Danville’s score.
“We feel comfortable being able to play a lot of players,” Blum said. “We had a backup running back [Stephens]… he was able to run the ball. [Weckesser] was able to run the ball. Of course, Cole Delaugher running the ball. Our offensive line looked good… I’m really happy at our offensive production and what we’re able to do.”
After Northmor (3-2, 1-1 KMAC) was stopped on downs with four minutes to play, the Devils attempted to run out the clock on the ground.
However, a rare fumbled snap was recovered by the Knights, and they earned another chance. Again, Danville forced Bower into throwing the ball away on fourth down, this time ending the competitive phase of the game.
Danville (5-0, 2-0) has the smallest student body in the Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference. It isn’t uncommon for the team to go weeks without seeing a smaller football roster across the field.
This includes Northmor as well as next week’s opponent, Loudonville. But the Blue Devils have a history of playing up to their opponents. Every week, they kick into a gear that sometimes doesn’t seem possible for a team from a school with so few students.
Blum is the latest in a line of coaches that has turned a small school into a football powerhouse. He was emotional as he talked about his team following Friday’s win.
“This is a very special place to be,” Blum said. “I’m really glad to be here and be able to do these things with these guys.”