Class 1A playoffs: Donoho sails into the second round, Decatur Heritage is next

High school football teaser

Photo by Jonathan Johnson.

Lentz Field at Donoho School proved kind once again to the Falcons as they comfortably dismissed the Berry Wildcats 34-6 for a second time this season.

Although Berry plays in Class 1A, Region 6, Donoho squared off with the Wildcats for a regular season match-up and subsequent win that took place back in late September at Fred Webster Stadium in Berry.

“You know, we had already played those guys one time this season, so we sort of keyed in on some things during the week that we needed to do better, and we did do better. I thought we came out and executed much better for the most part.” Donoho coach Mark Sanders said after the Class 1A first-round victory. “Our defense gave up a little more rushing yards than I would like, but we had great individual play from Dalton Nelson who recorded four sacks on the night and two big interceptions from Rod Elston.”

The Wildcats opened the game with a quick three-and-out, that included huge tackles for loss by Elston and Edwin Connell to force an early punt. The Falcons failed to capitalize on the field position by turning the ball over on their second play from scrimmage when Amarion Smedley had an ill-advised pass intercepted by Berry. Both teams traded possessions again before Donoho’s Elston found the end zone with 1:37 in the first quarter from 4 yards out, making the score 7-0 following the first of four extra points from Ethan Miles-Jamison on the night.

The Wildcats put together a promising drive early in the second quarter that ended with a turnover on downs with 6:48 remaining, following one of Dalton Nelson’s huge sacks on the night. Donoho fed off the defensive momentum and Ridge Hopkins hit Reed Williamon for a 31-yard pass completion to the 1-yard line a few plays later. The Falcons stuck quickly when Hopkins called his own number for a quick touchdown with 4:28 before the half, making the score 14-0 following the extra point. Berry got one more chance before half that ended with a Rod Elston interception.

Donoho received the second-half kick and quickly settled for a punt. After a quick three-and-out from the Wildcats, Donoho scored on a 4-yard touchdown run from Smedley with 6:24 in the third making it 21-0 Falcons. Jase Alderman would make four huge stops in a row on Berry’s next possession to end the third quarter.

Berry scored its only touchdown with 10:51 to go in the game and would miss the extra point, leaving the score 21-6. Moments later, Donoho’s Alderman alertly cleared his teammates away from Berry’s onside kick that failed to travel the required 10 yards. Donoho put a couple more touchdowns on the board to put the game away.

What to know

—Donoho finished with 279 yards of total offense on the night. Hopkins was 5-of-11 passing and Elston led the Falcons on the ground with 121 yards rushing on 14 carries with two touchdowns. Amarion Smedley added to Donoho’s rushing total with 63-yards on 9 carries and a touchdown.

—The Falcons' defense was led by Reid Williamon with 11.5 tackles on the night.

—Dalton Nelson recorded five tackles, including four sacks. Jase Alderman, Conner Goodson, Edwin Connell, Rod Elston, and Grant Steed all made significant contributions on defense.

—Elston had two interceptions, including one for a touchdown. Grant Steed also finished with an interception late in the game.

Who said

—Donoho lineman Jase Alderman on the game: “We’ve been working hard all week. It’s the first round of the playoffs, and we had played Berry once and we barely got out of there with a 3-point win. It wasn’t our best game. We played pretty good defensively and struggled on offense that night. We knew we had to be focused all week and get to work every single day in preparation. The work paid off tonight.”

Next up

—Donoho (9-1) will travel to Decatur Heritage (11-0), the top seed in Region 7.