By Russell Moore
The Cullman Times
After a long and arduous recovery from his second major knee injury in less than five months, Tyler Boland went to bed Thursday night pondering his 2013 debut.
One interception and a Vinemont win were in Boland’s plans.
He had a much bigger impact when Friday night rolled around. Boland, playing primarily on defense, had a pair of first-half interceptions, batted away three more passes, hauled in a 30-yard pass over two Danville defenders and converted a big third-down run in the third quarter as Vinemont opened Class 3A, Region 7 play with an impressive 32-7 victory at Eagle Stadium.
“It’s been a long road to get back on the field, but it was worth it. It was so nice to be back out here with my teammates. I didn’t play as much as I normally do since I’m trying to get back into the groove, so I’m just glad I could contribute. We came out ready to roll after halftime,” said Boland, who rushed for 14 yards on three carries. “I went to bed (Thursday) hoping for one interception, but two sounds better.”
Third-year Vinemont coach Alan Scott was also thrilled to have No. 3 back on the field.
“Tyler is such a blessing. You’ve got to be amazed at what he has done with his rehab in order to be back this soon. This team loves him and we love him,” Scott said.
Vinemont (2-0, 1-0 3A, Region 7) received strong contributions all across the board. The Eagles gashed Danville with its running game, racking up 304 rushing yards behind a strong tailback trio. Senior Taylor Evans finished with 172 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, John Michael Dye added 87 bruising yards and two scores and Trey Guthery added a 5-yard touchdown.
“We’re trying to spread the ball around to some guys in the backfield this year. Our offensive line did a good job blocking, and our backs did a good job of hitting the holes,” Scott said. “Our defense was also outstanding. They knew the game plan and executed it well. Our one turnover put us in a bad position defensively, but other than that it was an outstanding performance.
Our guys persevered after Danville hit us in the mouth, and that allowed us to pull away in the second half. We’re very blessed to get this first win in the region, and now we’ll turn our focus to Cordova.”
Vinemont’s defense limited Danville to only 179 total yards and the Eagles forced four Danville turnovers.
Danville (0-2, 0-1 3A, Region 7) coughed the ball up on its first possession, mishandling an errant pitch on a sweep play. Vinemont’s Evans recovered the fumble and the Eagles quickly took advantage, using a 5-play drive to score the game’s opening touchdown. With 7:06 remaining in the first quarter, Dye rumbled in from 5 yards out for touchdown and a 6-0 lead after a failed extra point attempt.
Boland’s second interception led to Vinemont’s second score. Boland picked off Danville QB Dallas McAbee in the end zone on a 4th-and-goal for the Hawks. Two plays later, Evans accounted for the biggest play of the night. He took a sweep play to the left, outraced the Danville defenders to the sideline, eluded one final player at the 50-yard line and raced for a 78-yard touchdown. It gave Vinemont a 12-0 lead with 4:40 left in the first half and it remained that way until intermission.
Danville scored its lone touchdown, off a Vinemont fumble, early in the third quarter. The Hawks started at Vinemont’s 28-yard line and ended an 8-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown by McAbee. An extra point trimmed Vinemont’s lead to 12-7.
Vinemont answered the touchdown emphatically.
Five Vinemont running backs shared carries on a 10-play, 59-yard drive, and Evans capped it with his second touchdown, this one a 15-yard score. Boland scampered for nine yards on a 3rd-and-6 play on the drive and caught a two-point conversion pass from Kurtis Brawner to extend the lead to 20-7 with 2:46 remaining in the third.
The Eagles cruised the rest of the way, scoring 14 more points in the fourth on touchdowns by Dye and Guthery.
Brian Reynolds recovered a fumble for Vinemont in the fourth quarter.
McAbee finished with 96 yards rushing and a score for Danville, but was 3-of-21 passing for 40 yards and two interceptions.
Vinemont continues region play next week at Cordova.