By John Wareham
BELLVILLE – It took seven minutes and forty seconds for the Danville football team to advance in the playoffs.
That was all.
The Blue Devils did almost nothing in the first three-and-a-half quarters in the Region 25 Regional Semifinals playoff game on Saturday night against Lucas at Clear Fork High School and they got into a 20-point hole.
Then Danville (11-2) caught absolute fire with 7:40 left in the game, scoring four touchdowns in a row, adding suspense along the way with onside kicks, missed extra points and conversions, and snatched a last-second 27-20 win away from the Cubs.
Max Payne connected on a 42-yard pass with Walker Weckesser with 13 seconds left in the game that capped the wild, improbable comeback win for Danville.
Lucas (6-7) thoroughly dominated the Blue Devils, shutting down all of the team’s offensive weapons throughout the first three quarters.
Danville had no energy until Kaiden Colopy sacked Logan Toms in a seemingly innocuous play at the end of the third quarter. But that started a series of actions that led to the 180-degree turnaround.
The Devils’ next drive sputtered until a Lucas pass interference penalty and a Weckesser 30-yard pass to Colopy led to a touchdown pass to Spencer Payne with under eight minutes left. Danville missed the extra point, but Caleb Lucas recovered the ensuing onside kick and the Blue Devils got the ball again.
The following drive, Weckesser scrambled for eight yards on the first play and then threw a long touchdown bomb to Colopy to get to within eight. After missing on the two-point version attempt, the Blue Devils kicked away to Lucas, which had a short drive, but had to give the ball up.
Danville, now with both Weckesser and Payne both playing quarterback, drove down the field again with Payne passing to Weckesser, Colopy and then to Ryan Lucas, who scored the team’s third touchdown in the five-minute span. The extra point tied the score at 20.
On the ensuing drive, Lucas went for it on a 4th-and-1 play with under a minute to go and Ryan Looney stopped it, giving the ball back to Danville. Payne then completed two short passes and then found Weckesser in the end zone for the win.
Danville advances to the Regional Final and will now play John F. Kennedy Catholic of Warren (12-1).