LIZTON — With county bragging rights, a conference victory and the Helmet Trophy all on the line against Danville Friday night, the Tri-West Bruins showed up and played a solid four quarters.
Tri-West’s defense performed at a high level all night, and with a strong offensive performance, downed Danville 34-6.
“I like the way we played,” Tri-West coach Chris Coll said. “The attitude and mentality, that’s what tonight was all about.”
Tri-West’s defense held Danville to 62 passing yards and 144 rushing. Danville’s up-tempo offense never really got going, and Tri-West seemed to have an answer for everything.
“The defense made all the difference in the world,” Coll said. “We don’t want to get in a shootout with them.”
Even if Tri-West had gotten into a shootout, the Bruins were well-armed for the occasion. Quarterback Jake Hendershot, now 2-1 in Helmet Trophy games, outgunned the Danville defense, throwing for 274 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 45 yards and another TD.
The junior signal-caller was reserved after the game, and called it a “great team win.”
“We wanted to do a little bit of both (passing and rushing) and keep it balanced,” Hendershot said.
Danville coach Russ Sumner knew what Tri-West wanted to accomplish defensively, but the way the Bruins executed their goal surprised the third-year coach.
“We weren’t expecting to be out-physicaled the way we were,” Sumner said. “They really got after us. We weren’t very aggressive or physical and they were eating us up upfront pretty bad. We didn’t handle that very well and didn’t respond very well to it. That took the course of the game with it in its hands.”
Tri-West’s running back combo of Wesley Cook and Colton Jobe each scored and combined for 80 yards as the Bruins’ balanced attack kept Danville guessing.
Danville scored late in the fourth quarter as quarterback Ben Jones ran it in from 20 yards out to cap a 7-play, 73-yard drive with three minutes remaining in the game. Jones finished 6 of 12 for 62 yards through the air and rushed for 82 yards. Running back Autry Pickens finished with 70 yards.
Danville’s Dylan Boyd blocked an extra-point and a punt, something Coll recognized the Bruins need to address.
“We have to shore up some special teams, we’ve had some issues there,” he said. “We have a good kicker and the consistency in the special teams has got to get better.”
Both coaches agreed it’s back to the drawing board, even after such an emotionally-charged game.
“Whether you win or lose, you have to prepare for the next week and put the past behind you,” Sumner said.