Falcons fall one play, one point short of dramatic of comeback victory
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
This past Friday the Darlington vs South Florence football game had one of the most exciting finishes the Falcons Nest has ever seen. Unfortunately, however, the Falcons ended up on the wrong side of the outcome, losing 28-27 to Bruins.
Down 28-21, the Falcons defense, which pitched a shutout in the second half, forced one final punt giving Darlington one more opportunity to either tie or win the game.
“Our defense really did grind,” Darlington head coach John Jones said. “They have gotten a lot better. We (offense) put them in some bad situations in the first half.”
Getting the ball on its own 20-yard line with 2:01 left to go Darlington used big plays, costly South Florence penalties and maybe even some luck to march down the field, 80 yards, resulting in the seven-yard touchdown reception by Jordan English, his second of the game, as time expired on the clock.
“Our guys played really composed and that’s the thing with young football teams that you like to see; that we are starting to grow up a little bit,” Jones said.
English, who finished the drive with the touchdown, got the drive going as quarterback Brian Robinson hit him in stride for a 21-yard reception on the first play moving the ball up to the Falcons 41-yard line.
On the next play South Florence shot itself in the foot, committing a pass interference penalty, moving Darlington up to Bruins 44-yard line.
In Bruins territory with less than two minutes left on the clock Robinson did his best Michael Vick impersonation, eluding South Florence’s pressure by escaping the pocket, rolling to his right and off of one foot slinging the football down allowing Martrez Hunter to go up and pull down the 30-yard reception.
With no timeouts the Falcons rushed down the field, but after a one-yard run, a four-yard pass and a sack it looked like Darlington’s drive was about to run out of gas.
Instead, South Florence bailed the Falcons out, committing its second pass interference penalty of the drive, putting Darlington on the seven-yard line with just 2.7 second left in the game.
With just enough time to run one last play Robinson connected with English as he came slanting into the end zone on the right side of the field sending a shockwave of excitement throughout the stadium.
Down by one, Darlington had a decision to make. Try an extra point to tie and force overtime in a non-region game that has no bearings at all on the playoffs or ride the momentum and go for the win.
Darlington, who had already had two extra point attempts blocked earlier in the game, rolled the dice and went with the latter. The play was intended for English on a tunnel screen, but a logjam of players disrupted the play, forcing an incompletion and ending the game.
As exciting as the game ended it was just as exciting at the start as Darlington’s Nick Self took the opening kickoff of the game 98 yards for the score, but that was just the beginning.
South Florence answered the Falcons touchdown in just two plays on its opening drive following the touchdown as Tony McFadden ran in his first of all four of the Bruins touchdowns on the night, from 41 yards out to put his team up 7-6 after Darlington had its extra point attempt block on the previous possession.
All of McFadden’s scores came in the first half with the first being a 41-yard run, followed by a 21-yard score, a 40-yard sprint to the end zone and a one-yard burst right with just 27.8 seconds left in the half.
That final touchdown was a blessing from a missed assignment by Darlington’s defense as South Florence was able to get a receiver behind the secondary and make the reception down on the Falcons one-yard line with just 58.1 seconds left on the clock.
“The biggest thing with the blown coverage is we had a mix-up up front and the guy (the quarterback) was able to step up in the pocket,” Jones said. “Had we came in the right gap, we just went to the wrong gap, he wouldn’t have had time for that guy to get behind him, but you have to play the whole down and distance until the whistle blows.”
Before that heart wrenching drive of South Florence’s, Darlington had tied the game up at 21 after Henrique Pedro nailed a field goal from 30 yards out.
The field goal was a breath of fresh air for the Falcons kicking game who, before that point, had both of their extra points blocked.
Darlington’s other scores came from another seven-yard touchdown reception by English in the first quarter and an eight-yard touchdown run by Javorius Williams in the second quarter.
While the loss drops Darlington to 1-5 overall, the Falcons have improved greatly over the last two games both offensive and defensively and with region play starting this week the time for this type of improvement has never been more important.
“Those guys are starting to believe in what we do,” Jones said. “We made some changes two weeks ago and they’re having some fun, believing in what they are doing. Our offensive guys too. It’s like a little fire catching on inside.”