WELLSVILLE — Dansville head coach Terry Conway isn't a flashy kind of guy — meat and potatoes, four yards and a cloud of dust is more to his liking.
Maybe it was the full moon, the Halloween season or just the fact that Dansville desperately needed to change up its luck, but the Mustangs got a little tricky Friday night.
Trailing Wellsville 12-6 and backed up deep in their own territory late in the first half, the Mustangs ran a perfectly executed hook and ladder play to set up the go-ahead score, and it was all Dansville from there.
The Mustangs ripped off 21 unanswered points to rally for a 28-12 Livingston County Division I league win over host Wellsville on the Lions' Senior Night.
"These guys have been practicing that hook and ladder play all year, and I hate it," Conway admitted. "I'm not a fancy guy, I'm a meat and potatoes kind of guy. We tried running it last week against Wayland. Both times we didn't catch the ball but it was open both times. It was a nice play.
"It was a huge momentum swing going into halftime. We told them that's the worst half we've played all year, and we're ahead on the scoreboard. That's a testament to your ability and your desire."
Gage Koch ran the hook, and Evan Dieter climbed the ladder. Koch grabbed a pass from Ethan Mapes, then lateraled to Dieter, who rumbled down the sideline before James Embser knocked him out of bounds at the 18 yard line.
Mapes quickly capitalized with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Koch in the back corner of the end zone shortly before time expired.
Despite a dominant Wellsville first half that featured 294 rushing yards and a 17:49-6:11 advantage in time of possession, Dansville took a 14-12 lead into the intermission.
"I wish we played the second half like we played the first half," said Wellsville head coach Wayne Stonemetz. "We went into the second half with the same gameplan, we just got behind with a couple turnovers. We just put our backs to the fences.
"I figured our best bet at that point was try to spread them and see what we could do with that. It wasn't unsuccessful, but it wasn't as successful as I wanted it to be."
The Lions (0-6) moved up and down the field, rolling up 377 net yards of offense. Rich Ewell, who saw time at running back and QB, rushed for 194 net yards on 23 carries, including a 35-yard touchdown on a pitch outside during Wellsville's first possession. Ryan Dunham had 140 yards on 19 runs up the middle of the Dansville defense.
Carter Hoffman added a two-yard touchdown run that put Wellsville up 12-7 with 4:20 left in the first half.
"We proved we could run the football tonight," Stonemetz said. "It was an exciting game, a fun game to coach, it was just a disappointing ending. I wish some calls would have went our way a little bit more, but it's one of those things that's part of the game.
"I was very happy with being able to power the football the way we did," Stonemetz added. "Ryan did well carrying the ball, Richie carried the ball well. Jared (Costello) and Carter had a couple good carries. We did well running the football, but we've got to finish when we're inside the red zone, and there's some things we need to work on."
While Wellsville steadily advanced the ball one run at a time, Dansville (4-2) specialized in the big play. Mapes got the Mustangs on the board with a 78-yard touchdown run in the first quarter one play after a Wellsville fumble.
Mapes also hit Koch for another 14-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Dieter pounded out 143 yards and a score on 19 carries, while Mapes finished with 112 yards on the ground. Adam West added 74 on 12 carries. The Mustangs finished with 421 net yards of offense, including 120 through the air from Mapes, who was 4-of-8 with two scores.
"We don't pass as much as we'd like to, mostly because it's hard to get a good pocket right now because of our inexperience up front," Conway said. "If we had more protection I think we'd have a hell of a passing game because we've got good receivers and Mapes is a good quarterback.
"This is a nice group of kids to work with. They work real hard. They don't get down. They face adversity better than any team we've had in a long time, and we had a lot of adversity in the first half. They just keep plugging away."
Mapes also led the Dansville defense with 11 tackles. Zach Green added nine and Dieter had eight. Koch came down with an interception of Ewell on the goal line to seal Dansville's win with 3:30 remaining.
Gavin Shea led the Lions with 13 tackles. Dunham had 10, including a sack. Embser and Costello had six, while Jake Whitehouse had five and a forced fumble. Austin Crawford had a fumble recovery.
Conner Insley had all three catches for the Wellsville offense, gaining 38 yards. Junior Luke Seeley went 2-for-4 for 33 yards in his first start at QB.
Dansville will meet Livonia next week's regular season finale, while Wellsville travels to rival Hornell in search of its first win.
"I just told the boys, if we could put one together Week 7 would be mighty nice," Stonemetz said. "Everybody knows the nature of the beast when it comes to playing Hornell. There's a little bit of a no love lost situation there. I'm looking forward to the game, I hope the boys are looking forward to the game. We'll see what happens."
Dansville 7 7 7 7 — 28
Wellsville 6 6 0 0 — 12
W — Ewell 35 run (run failed)
D — Mapes 78 run (Graves kick)
W — Hoffman 2 run (pass failed)
D — Koch 14 pass from Mapes (Graves kick)
D — Koch 14 pass from Mapes (Graves kick)
D — Dieter 3 run (Graves kick)