INDIANAPOLIS – Behind 352 yards and seven touchdowns on 31 carries by Aurty Pickens, Danville cruised to on opening-round sectional victory over host Northwest, 77-12, Friday night.
“They came out, played hard and we did all of those things that we talked about doing over the course of the week,” Danville coach Russ Sumner said. “That’s what you try to get done in practice and hope that translates into a Friday night, and I think that it did.”
Danville (3-7) struck quickly as Pickens scored on an 8-yard run, and the two-point conversion was good, giving the Warriors an 8-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Pickens scored again on a 3-yard plunge just three minutes later, and Ben Jones followed with a 17-yard TD to make it 22-0 after a quarter.
Christian Schabel hit Pickens on a short pass for a 5-yard TD with 9:14 remaining in the half, and Jones scored again on a 25-yard run to give Danville a 35-0 lead at halftime.
Danville started the second half in a similar fashion, with a 40-yard TD run by Pickens.
Pickens scored his fourth TD on a 2-yard run with 6:54 remaining in the third, and his fifth came three minutes later on a 3-yard run.
“I was seeing a lot of holes and big open-field spots,” Pickens said. “I can only thank my linemen, wide receivers, wings and my quarterback. They gave it all to me. I could not have done any of it without them.
“I am really happy to be moving on. It is the first sectional win that we have had in a couple of years.”
Jacob Shirrell atoned from a touchdown that was called back earlier in the game with a 16-yard run that stood with 1:58 remaining in the third quarter. Pickens scored again and Jones took a kickoff back for a touchdown, while Nick Booker and Damien Wesley scored Northwest (1-9) TDs to accomplish the final margin.
With the strong effort from Pickens, Jones and Shirrell, Danville amassed 533 yards on the ground.
“We rely on our running game pretty heavily,” Sumner said. “It’s an option game. Whoever ends up with the ball, it’s up to the quarterback to make a good decision in that process. I know that (Pickens) had quite a bit tonight and scored quite a few points, but I felt that we executed pretty well up front especially.
“We haven’t had many sectional wins in the past five or 10 years, and it feels good to come out with a win.”
Danville will face Class 4A No. 4 Chatard (7-4) next Friday. The Trojans have ended the Warriors’ season the past two years by a combined 90-20 margin.