By Frank Dimon
For The Daily Item
MILTON — Moments after Danville had wrapped up its 41-0 domination of Milton at steamy Alumni Field on Friday night, a sweaty Sam Dressler still appeared fresh enough to go a few more series in the season opener. Fortunately for the exhausted Black Panthers defense, Dressler’s night ended three plays into the fourth quarter.
With the his offensive line leading the way, Dressler ran for a pair of two-yard touchdowns in the first half while burning the Black Panthers defense for 116 yards before the intermission.
Dressler finished with 149 yards on 26 carries and shared the ball with running mate Isaiah Croll in the second half. Croll ran for 95 second-half yards and a third-quarter touchdown. The Ironmen finished with 383 yards on the ground as five different players scored touchdowns and quarterback Weston Baylor, who threw for 93 yards, didn’t attempt a pass in the second half.
“It all starts up front and those guys work so hard every day in practice,” Dressler said. “Me and Isaiah, we couldn’t do anything without those guys up front.”
Dressler’s and the Ironmen’s dominance in the first half didn’t reflect on the scoreboard, though. Dressler’s first score came after Charles Rivera picked off Milton quarterback Brady Chappell midway through the first quarter and Danville drove 58 yards in nine plays.
Both teams struggled the rest of the half with penalties and mistakes, but no miscue was bigger than a high snap over the punter’s head with just over a minute left in the half. The Ironmen recovered at the Black Panthers’ eight and Dressler bulled in two plays later for a 13-0 lead.
“We kept hurting ourselves with stupid penalties,” Danville coach Jim Keiser said. “We had a personal foul after a great catch and a big run (by Evan Turner), and we had a holding call on a big run. It just seemed like every time we did something good we also did something stupid. We told them at halftime to clean that stuff up if you are going to be a good football team. We did a great job in the second half.”
Danville scored on its first two possessions of the second half.
Baylor capped a nine-play drive with a seven-yard score when his fumble bounced back into his hands and Croll, who finished the night with 112 rushing yards, bounced in from two yards after a short Milton punt.
“We are so lucky to have two kids like (Dressler and Croll),” Keiser said. “We’ve had great running backs and I hope I keep getting this kind of talent. They are both great backs and have great vision.
They are even more explosive this year. They are very impressive.”
The Ironmen also got touchdowns from Tom Brouse and Caleb Jones in the fourth quarter.
Milton struggled offensively the entire game as Chappell was picked off twice and the Danville defense covered a pair of Black Panthers fumbles.
“We just couldn’t sustain any drives offensively,” Milton coach George Goodwin said. “Everything that could go wrong tonight, did go wrong. The (Baylor) touchdown when the fumble bounced right to him was a perfect example.”
Chappell did manage to throw for 99 yards, but the Danville defense limited Milton for 59 yards rushing on 30 attempts.