Carson Persing Danville.jpg

Danville’s Carson Persing runs away from the Hughesville defense during the Ironmen’s win Saturday night.

DANVILLE — Danville used its athleticism and explosive plays to overcome a lack of preparation time Saturday night when it faced Hughesville on two days notice.

Carson Persing provided the explosive plays.

He scored three touchdowns, including a 50-yard punt return, and Danville overcame some sloppiness to run away from Hughesville with a 51-7 win in Heartland Athletic Conference crossover football.

The game was scheduled on Thursday afternoon, after both Danville and Hughesville lost their original opponents scheduled for Friday.

"I was proud of the kids for adjusting with 48 hours notice," said Danville coach Mike Brennan. "We had a totally different plan. It wasn't the prettiest thing, but it was a solid win. Just being able to compete tonight gave us a chance to improve for next week."

It was Persing who sparked the Ironmen both early on and in the second half. The junior hauled in seven passes for 91 yards and a pair of touchdowns, becoming Danville's all-time leader in career receptions in the process. He also returned two punts for 50 yards each, and finished with 224 all-purpose yards.

"He does a lots and he gets better and works at it every single day," said Brennan. "Whether it's in the weight room or the training room, whatever his task, he does well, and between the lines it shows. He's a talented young man and a hard worker, and I'm glad he's on our team."

His initial 50-yard punt return came after Hughesville went three-and-out on its first possession of the game. That set up Danville at the Hughesville 5-yard line, and four plays later, on fourth down, Zach Gordon found Hayden Winn in the corner of the end zone.

After another three-and-out by the Spartans, Danville started its next drive at the Hughesville 25, and once again, on fourth down, came up with a touchdown, this one on a 3-yard reception by Persing.

Hughesville again failed to get a first down on its next possession, and were forced to punt from their own 16. The punt was blocked by Bronson Krainak, who along with Mason Raup both got to the punter, and Raup recovered the blocked kick in the end zone for a touchdown.

From there, Hughesville put together its only scoring drive of the night, a 13-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a JJ Gabel 1-yard touchdown run.

It was sustained by four Danville penalties, three of which resulted in first downs. The Ironmen committed 10 penalties in the first half for 96 yards, which was more yards than Hughesville managed in total offense (51) in the opening half.

"The penalties were uncharacteristic of us, and so were some of the errors," said Brennan. "We're a young football team. There are times when we have a load of young kids on the field defensively. We start eight underclassmen on both sides of the ball.

"I do feel like we're continually getting better, and I'm proud of them tonight for pulling it together. But certainly it wasn't as good of a performance as we'll need in the weeks to come."

Following Hughesville's touchdown, the Ironmen answered right back, as Persing hauled in his second touchdown pass of the night, a 25-yard reception from Gordon. Gordon had a strong night as he completed 12 of 16 passes for 127 yards to go with his three touchdown passes.

Danville added a 27-yard field goal by Aaron Johnson just before halftime to take a 30-7 lead into the break. They made it 37-7 on their first second half drive as Ty Stauffer went in from 9 yards out, which followed a big 46-yard scamper. Stauffer finished with 106 yards on 13 carries.

Persing's 50-yard punt return for touchdown with 3:53 left in the third quarter pushed the game into the mercy rule. Danville wasn't done with explosive plays just yet, either, as Johnson burst loose for a 52-yard touchdown run at the end of the third quarter.

"We had some guys out tonight, and we came in a little short handed, but big plays killed us," said Hughesville coach Howard Rainey. "They took us completely out of our running game."

Danville held the Spartans to just 134 total yards, including negative-25 on the ground.


Hughesville (0-3);0;7;0;0 — 7

Danville (3-0);20;10;21;0 — 51


First quarter

D-Hayden Winn 5 pass from Zach Gordon (Aaron Johnson kick)

D-Carson Persing 3 pass from Gordon (kick blocked)

D-Mason Raup blocked punt recovered in end zone (Johnson kick)

Second quarter

H-JJ Gabel 1 run (Fowler kick)

D-Persing 25 pass from Gordon (Johnson kick)

D-FG, Johnson 27

Third quarter

D-Ty Stauffer 9 run (Johnson kick)

D-Persing 50 punt return (Johnson kick)

D-Johnson 52 run (Hoffman kick)



First downs;13;19

Rushes-net yards;24-(-25);28-184


Passing yards;159;205




RUSHING — Hughesville: Joey Swink 12-(-23); Justin Fowler 4-(-5); Kelby Gordner 3-5; JJ Gabel 2-2, TD; Tyler Wetzel 1-0; Luke Kaiser 1-0; TEAM 1-(-1). Danville: Ty Stauffer 13-106, TD; Aaron Johnson 4-76, TD; Zach Gordon 3-4; Kory King 3-4; Jack Gibson 2-(-3); Carter Coombe 1-7; Sam Meloy 1-1; Madden Patrick 1-(-11).

PASSING — Hughesville: Joey Swink 10-23-1, 112 yards; Tyler Wetzel 3-5-0, 46 yards; Blake Davis 1-2-0, 1 yard. Danville: Zach Gordon 12-16-0, 127 yards, 3 TDs; Madden Patrick 4-5-0, 78 yards.

RECEIVING — Hughesville: Tyler Wetzel 5-77; Angelo Ferrigno 4-25; Justin Fowler 3-47; Brennan Hartman 1-9; Joey Swink 1-1. Danville: Carson Persing 7-91, 2 TDs; Aaron Johnson 5-72; Hayden Winn 2-14, TD; Luke Huron 1-19; Ethan Morrison 1-9.

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