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Persing becomes Danville’s receptions record holder, Ironmen get win number three @IronmenFball @carsopers23 @jjgabel52 @HS21football

Written by: on Sunday, September 12th, 2021

 

Hughsville quarterback Joey Swink stood tall despite constant pressure (Michelle Benjamin photo)

Justin Fowler stretched high into the twilight, snagging a well-thrown Joey Swink 29-yard pass. That highlight connection on a 4th-and-25 situation fueled a 13-play, 70-yard Hughesville touchdown drive Saturday night against defending District 4 Class AAA champion Danville. JJ Gabel capped that drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, Mason Hoppes blocked an extra point, Swink tore into the backfield and registered a sack and Angelo Ferrigno added some good catches. Hughesville looked good at times against an overwhelming favorite, just not enough. Steps were taken, but the climb continues. Danville used a combination of special teams and big plays, and Carson Persing became Danville’s all-time leading receiver and scored three touchdowns as the Ironmen defeated Hughesville, 51-7.

“Yeah, we got to play football. We had only a couple hours to prepare but I thought we played well” said Danville head coach Mike Brennan. “We made some plays on special teams, but we made a lot of mistakes. They hung tough and their quarterback is a slippery, elusive player. They’re gonna be a good team soon.”

After Gabel’s second-quarter touchdown made it a 13-point game, Danville (3-0) scored the game’s final 31 points, including 21 in the second quarter to keep the young and short-handed Spartans winless. “We came here and a couple of the guys were a little nervous. We’ve never beaten Danville, so they came into it with the wrong attitude,” Hughesville first-year coach Howard Rainey said. “We had some bright spots but more that weren’t so bright.”

Part of the goal now is convincing the players that sunny days are coming soon. The coaches believe in their players and believed they could compete well against a 2020 state semifinalist. At times, that was the case, but Danville pulled together following Hughesville’s touchdown, pushed the lead to 23 by halftime and broke things wide open in the third quarter. Ty Stauffer (102 yards) and Aaron Johnson (76) ripped off runs of 46 and 52 yards and each scored in the third quarter before Persing capped his historic night with an electrifying 56-yard punt return.

“It’s going take a little building and getting their confidence up. Their confidence is what is really killing them,” Rainey said. “We honestly thought we’d do a lot better than we did, but sometimes the scoreboard doesn’t really reflect how the game is going.”

That was certainly true in the first half when Danville built a 30-7 lead. Despite the score, Hughesville competed well and neutralized one of the district’s most potent offenses. The problem, however, was Persing’s 51-yard punt return and a short punt set up Danville at the 5 and 25-yard lines for two quick scoring drives. A Bronson Krainak blocked punt then was recovered by all-state linebacker Mason Raup in the end zone and Danville led 20-0 less than eight minutes into the game despite having just 45 yards.

Hughesville threatened to make it a two-score game again in the second quarter but a drive stalled at midfield. Danville choked off Hughesville’s running game, holding it to minus-25 yards, but the Spartan passing game came alive with Swink, Tyler Wetzel and Blake Davis combining to complete 14 passes for a season-high 159 yards. Swink threw for 108 yards and Fowler played an excellent game, catching a career-high five passes for 77 yards. Ferrigno and Aiden Barlett combined for seven catches.

And this was on a night when four offensive starters were sidelined, including leading rusher Brenden Knight. So, as Hughesville gains more experience, its weapons are increasing.

“We have some bright spots ahead,” Rainey said. “It’s a building year and we all knew that, but we thought we’d be doing a lot better by now.”

Persing has done it better than any Danville wide receiver ever has. And he’s only three games into his junior year.

Persing goes high for the catch

Persing caught seven passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns and broke Shane Kozick’s career reception mark of 119 late in the first half. In just 25 high school games, Persing has caught 123 passes for 2,310 yards and 27 touchdowns while earning all-state honors a year ago.

“It’s a great moment. You don’t think about it during the game and then you hear the announcement and all the fans screaming for you,” Persing said. “It’s a great accomplishment for the team and me.”

Hayden Winn and Persing caught short first-quarter touchdown passes on 4th-and-goal plays. Persing made it 27-7 when he reeled in a perfectly thrown 25-yard touchdown pass by Zach Gordon (12 of 16, 123 yards, 3 touchdowns). His record breaking reception came on a 26-yard catch and run late in the first half.

 

Not surprisingly, Persing’s catch was a big one, coming on 3rd-and-18 and helping set up Johnson’s 27-yard field goal. Persing possesses sprinter’s speed, as well as glue-like hands and joystick moves. He showed off all those qualities Saturday and Danville won for the 12th time in 14 games.

“We got blessed for a game at home this week,” Persing said. “To have people you go to school with celebrating you, it’s a great feeling.”

Danville 51, Hughesville 7

Hughesville 0 7 0 0ä7

Danville 20 10 21 0ä51

First Quarter

DäHayden Winn 5 pass from Zach Gordon (Aaron Johnson kick), 9:32

DäCarson Persing 3 pass from Gordon (kick blocked), 5:52

DäMason Raup recovered block punt in end zone (Johnson kick), 4:08

Second Quarter

HäJJ Gabel 1 run (Tyler Fowler kick), 10:00

DäPersing 25 pass from Gordon (Johnson kick), 6:58

DäJohnson 27-yard field goal, :5.7

Third Quarter

DäTy Stauffer 9 run (Johnson kick), 10:45

DäPersing 56-yard punt return (Johnson kick), 3:53

DäAaron Johnson 52 run (Garrett Hoffman kick), 1:19

TEAM STATISTICS H D
First Downs 12 17
Rushes-yards 22-(-25) 28-181
Passing yards 159 200
Total yards 134 381
Comp-Att-Int 14-29-1 16-21-0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 5-35 11-96
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Hughesville, Kelby Gordner 2-5, JJ Gabel 2-2, TD; Tyler Wetzel 1-0; Mason Hoppes 1-(-3); Aiden Barlett 4-(-6); Joey Swink 12-(-23). Danville, Ty Stauffer 12-106, TD; Aaron Johnson 4-76, TD; Carter Coombe 1-7; Kory King 3-4; Sam Meloy 1-1; Team 1-(-2); Jack Gibson 2-(-3); Zach Gordon 4-(-8).

PASSING: Hughesville, Swink 10-22-1, 112 yards; Tyler Wetzel 3-5-0, 46 yards; Blake Davis 1-2-0, 1 yard. Danville, Gordon 12-16-0, 123 yards, 3 TDs; Madden Patrick 4-5-0, 77 yards.

RECEIVING:
Hughesville, Justin Fowler 5-77; Angelo Ferrigno 4-25; Barlett 3-47; John Finnegan 1-9; Swink 1-1. Danville, Carson Persing 7-86, 2 TDs; Johnson 5-71; Hayden Winn 2-15, TD; Luke Huron 1-19; Ethan Morrison 1-9.

Gallery Premiere Studios, Michelle Benjamin

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