Nov. 17—DANVILLE — Bo Sheptock may have been as under-the-radar a 1,000-yard rusher as you'll find, often a mere afterthought in Danville's high-flying offense.
The junior set season-highs across the board on a rainy Friday with 29 carries for 304 yards and four touchdowns, leading the Ironmen to a 40-7 win over Loyalsock in the District 4 Class 3A championship game.
"I got to give all the credit to the O-line; the O-line had really solid blocks. We're usually a pass-first team, and I feel like Loyalsock was preparing more for the pass against us," said Sheptock. "It's really big for me. This is my first year here, but it's just been awesome. It's been a great atmosphere, a great experience."
A team that thrived all season behind 3,000-yard passer Madden Patrick and 1,400-yard receiver Aaron Johnson won its fourth consecutive district title by gashing the Lancers for 418 yards on the ground.
Danville was still a chunk-play attack, though, averaging just less than 10 yards per rush and gaining 25 or more yards on six runs.
"Our game plan this week was to run the football a little more. We practiced it a little more this week just to give us a look," said first-year coach Carl Majer. "We knew that Loyalsock was going to double-team Johnson, so we did that do give us a different look. I think the kids did great."
The Ironmen (12-1) trailed 7-6 after one quarter before scoring 34 unanswered points, including 21 in a five-minute span of the fourth quarter.
"At halftime, we go into the locker room and it's completely silent," said Danville junior linebacker Cameron Kiersch. "Everyone was just completely ready to go. I don't think there was any doubt."
The Ironmen will face the winner of today's District 3 final, either Wyomissing (10-1) or West Perry (11-1) in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs next week.
Sheptock, who transferred to Berwick from Danville in January, carried the ball more than 12 times in a game only twice all season. His 18 carries a week ago in a semifinal win over Lewisburg were two off his previous high of 20 against Hollidaysburg on Oct. 20. His high-water mark for yardage was 147 at Montoursville on Oct. 6, one of five 100-yard games entering Friday.
Sheptock went for 101 on 12 runs in Danville's regular-season game against Loyalsock, a 28-25 win. On Friday, he broke his first carry for 48 yards, stepping through an ankle tackle at the line of scrimmage and racing in front of the Lancers' sideline.
Whether darting between the tackles or around the edge, Sheptock made many of his big gains seem effortless.
"The line was just great; they played phenomenal," said Sheptock, who was 3 yards off his season-best total at the half. "I was able to read their blocks, get in the holes and make the right things happen."
Sheptock's 6-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter followed a missed 31-yard field goal by the Lancers (9-4) on the game's opening possession.
Loyalsock answered the score with an 80-yard drive capped by Tyler Gee's 24-yard TD pass to Jaylen Andrews. The series was extended by a 30-yard catch by Will Burdett on third-and-11 on a pass that got through Danville linebacker Carter Raup's hands.
"Right after they scored — they had a really lucky play — I knew we had them," said Ironmen junior defensive back Cole Duffy. "That's the only way they could score, on our mistakes. I had good confidence in our defense."
Sheptock ran for a 5-yard touchdown not a minute into the second quarter for a 13-7 lead. The teams then exchanged punts, and, on their fourth series, the Lancers threatened to retake the lead.
Gee was 5-of-5 for 75 yards on a 86-yard march to the Danville 1. He stuck a 17-yarder between two defenders to Burdett at the goal line. The Ironmen, however, turned Loyalsock away, with Kiersch making a fourth-down interception at the goal line.
"It just shows the heart of our kids. They're not going to give up," said Majer. "A lot of teams might just let them score. They fight and scratch, they take it personal, and it showed there."
On first-and-goal, Gee burrowed into the line and was stopped short. On second down, he tried to leap and extend the ball over the goal line, but the ball was jarred loose for a fumble and 2-yard loss. A fade pass to Andrews (12 catches, 168 yards) was too deep to the left corner.
On fourth down, Gee tried to hit L.J. Lee on a slant, but Gabe Petrus had blanket coverage as Kiersch stepped in front of the pass.
"Gabe Petrus collisioned that route; he set that up for me," said Kiersch, who returned the pick 54 yards across midfield. "We've been in a lot of situations like that in the last couple years, and we all have faith in each other. We fully believe that we can get a stop there."
The Lancers never threatened again. Although, after the Ironmen went up 19-7 with 4:07 left in the third, Andrews did flash open on a deep post pattern down the middle of the field. Duffy closed on the ball and knocked it away before the 6-foot-3 Andrews could bring it in.
"I knew it was coming right off the release," Duffy said. "I was like, All right, I've just got to stay with him and do my best, be as physical as possible with him so he doesn't jump over me and catch the ball. It was great, the atmosphere and buzz when you do something like that with a great player."
Sheptock ran for 5 and 47-yard touchdowns (and made an end-zone interception) in the fourth quarter. Johnson added a 55-yard pick-6 in the period as Danville pulled away.
DISTRICT 4 CLASS 3A FOOTBALL
at Ironmen Stadium, Danville
DANVILLE 40, LOYALSOCK 7
Loyalsock (9-4);7;0;0;0 — 7
Danville (12-1);6;7;6;21 — 40
D-Bo Sheptock 6 run (kick failed), 7:09
L-Jaylen Andrews 24 pass from Tyler Gee (Chris Cooley kick), 4:25
D-Sheptock 5 run (Garrett Hoffman kick), 11:19
D-Carter Raup 25 pass from Madden Patrick (run failed), 4:07
D-Sheptock 5 run (Hoffman kick), 6:20
D-Aaron Johnson 55 interception return (Hoffman kick), 5:34
D-Sheptock 47 run (Hoffman kick), 1:22
RUSHING — Loyalsock: Tyler Gee 12-46; Dolan Harman 7-17; Logan Bastian 5-15; Jaylen Andrews 3-5; Team 1-(-15). Danville: Bo Sheptock 29-304, 4 TDs; Aaron Johnson 8-97; Madden Patrick 5-17.
PASSING — Loyalsock: Gee 19-37-3, 269 yds., TD. Danville: Patrick 5-12-0, 87 yds., TD.
RECEIVING — Loyalsock: Andrews 12-168, TD; Will Burdett 3-65; Bastian 2-6; Danny Dowell 1-24; Harman 1-6. Danville: Johnson 3-31; Cole Duffy 1-31; Carter Raup 1-25, TD.