PREP FOOTBALL: Danville falls short in triple overtime classic with Normal Community

Oct. 1—NORMAL — For the second week in a row, the hopes for a Danville victory in a Big 12 Conference football game ended with the ball in the hands of senior quarterback Bryson Perez-Hinton.

Normal Community stopped Perez-Hinton at the 5-yard line on a fourth down-and-goal play in the third overtime as the Ironmen slipped past the Vikings 50-43.

"It was a hard-fought game," said Danville senior T.J. Lee. "It's a tough loss, but we played our hearts out."

The three overtime contest is the longest game in more than 20 years for Danville football, but it's also the second consecutive less by one touchdown this season for the Vikings.

"We played better as a team, but it just wasn't good enough at the end," said Danville senior Tommy Harris Jr. referring to last week's 7-0 loss to Champaign Centennial.

Danville coach Marcus Forrest echoed the statements of his players.

"It's amazing that you can come out of a loss but still feel good," he said. "It's a loss, but 50-43 in a three-overtime game where they battled and still gave themselves opportunities is something that I'm proud of.

"It probably shouldn't have been an overtime game, but we bit ourselves in the foot with little things that we know we have to correct. We know they shouldn't happen but they did."

For the Vikings, who fall to 3-3 overall and 2-3 in the Big 12 Conference, their biggest problem on offense were negative plays. Whether it was penalties, missed blocking assignments of a couple bad snaps, Danville failed to score on any possession where it had a negative play — including in the third overtime where Harris lost 2 yards on the first down play.

"We had multiple things that hurt us. We had some that stood out more than other because they came at crucial times, but had multiple things that cost us multiple opportunities," Forrest said. "Offensively and defensively, we had chances to make plays or minimize plays that they had. It's all about taking advantage of those opportunities.

"There are only so many times that you can miss assignments, or have bad snaps, or not be over the top of a receiver, or not come down and tackle or just not be where you are supposed to be. Those things add up and it came to a point today, where it did add up for us."

Forrest quickly points out that each one of those miscues is a learning experience for his team.

"Through all of those adverse things that happened, we still gave ourselves a chance to win," he said. "They can hold their head up and still be proud ... once we limit those things, instead of losing 50-43 in three overtimes we might be talking about a 28-21 or maybe a 35-21 win instead. Those are the little things we still have to learn."

Normal Community, which improves to 3-3 overall and 3-2 in the Big 12, had its own share of miscues with three turnovers that Danville turned into 21 points.

Interceptions by T.J Lee, which he returned 15 yards for a touchdown, and Phillip Shaw IV in the third quarter allowed the Vikings to turn a 21-14 deficit into a 28-21 lead when Shaw scored a 26-yard pass from Hinton-Perez with 21 seconds left in the third.

"When they moved (Elliott Oliver) inside, I knew they were coming my way," Lee said. "I told Matthew (Thomas) what he was going to do. I read it perfectly and stayed right there for the pick-6.

"We know that we can compete with anybody and we can beat anybody when e come together and work as a team."

But on the ensuing possession, the Vikings had a chance to put the game away. On fourth down-and-1 at the Normal 41, a bad snap turned the ball over on downs, giving the Ironmen new life.

Sophomore quarterback Kyle Beaty, who threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns, took advantage by first converting a fourth-and-11 play with a 26-yard pass to Cameron Thierry, who had 8 receptions for 155 yards, and then finding Oliver for a 10-yard scoring strike that tied the game at 28 with 4:16 left.

"We had multiple opportunities slip away," Forrest said. "We put ourselves in a bad position."

Danville seemingly put itself in the right positions in both the first and second overtime as it had the ball first in each situation and scored. In the second overtime, the Vikings went for the 2-point conversion and got it with Hinton-Perez connecting with Tevyn Henderson.

But each time, Normal Community had the answer, even in the second overtime when junior Brady Augstin was able to dive past two Danville defenders to get the tying 2-point conversion.

In the third overtime session, the Ironmen had the ball first and score when Augstin plowed into the end zone on third down.

The Vikings attempt to answer was thwarted by the Ironmen defense. Junior defensive back Leo Capparelli broke up a third-down pass intended for Thomas and then on fourth down, Perez-Hinton ran into multiple Normal defenders at the 5-yard line.

"That's another example of a missed assignment," said Forrest, referring to the play the Vikings ran. "What it looked like is not what it was supposed to be. It was actually an inside zone where the quarterback was keeping it and we were going to run an option out the backside. It was one of those things where their focus kind of shifted a little bit on that last play. They were so intent on trying to make a hole that they forgot what we talked about.

"We knew they were going to come down hard to take away our inside run. So if we got them to bite down, like they did, we could run the option and bring the ball outside — giving two our better athletes an opportunity to make a play. That's what we were looking for, but instead it ends on a bad note."

Danville will attempt to snap its two-game losing streak at home next Friday when the Vikings host the Champaign Central Maroons at Ned Whitesell Field.