By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
DANVILLE — Loyalsock’s Austin Champion lined up a 31-yard field goal try in the waning seconds of a back-and-forth game.
The attempt sailed slightly left and short with 27 seconds left to give Danville the ball back with one kneel to end the game.
The Ironmen hung on for a 23-21 victory over Loyalsock, stopping the Lancers when it mattered most.
"Loyalsock’s an excellent football team and they showed that tonight," Danville head coach Jim Keiser said. "We got good pressure on the field goal. Lucky for us, it didn’t go in."
Loyalsock dual-threat quarterback Kyle Datres was surrounded by hype prior to the game and lived up to his billing, keeping the Ironmen offbalance.
Datres tried to rally his team for one final drive after Danville grabbed a late two-point lead.
Datres brought his team down the field with the help of some quick thinking on his feet and tough yards by a host of Lancers running backs. Facing a third-and-10 at his own 48 with slightly over a minute remaining, Datres rolled to his right and connected with Philip Krizan on a 35-yard gain to keep the drive going.
With the Lancers now in the red zone at the 17, it was time for the Ironmen defense to show its true colors with its backs to the wall in a tight game. Hanging tough, the Ironmen stuffed running lanes and forced Datres to throw on the run on first and third downs as balls fell incomplete.
The clutch defensive effort for the Ironmen forced Champion to trot out on the field and sealed the Danville victory.
Danville scored many of its points with quick strikes rather than long, methodical possessions — including the score which would stand as the game-winner.
After a long kickoff return by Isaiah Croll midway through the fourth quarter gave the Ironmen starting field position at midfield, Croll and Sam Dressler took over offensively.
Dressler broke through a hole off of the right tackle from the Lancers 40, ran into a sea of Lancers defenders and quickly changed direction and sprinted down the left sideline to reach the end zone and give the Ironmen a 23-21 lead.
"I thought someone was going to catch me from behind because that’s what usually happens," Dressler said.
The Dressler touchdown came less than two minutes after Datres used every inch of his six-foot-one-inch frame to break into the end zone off of a scramble, diving for the right pylon with a slew of Ironmen defenders converging on him for a six-yard run.
In the first half, Datres used his speed to his advantage to turn a minimal gain into easy first-down yardage on multiple occasions. The junior finished with 114 yards on 16 carries to surpass 100 yards both with his legs and with his arm.