By Drake Horton
Before this past Friday, it had been three weeks since the Darlington Falcons had played a football game.
The time off was evident as the Falcons struggled in every facet of the game, losing in disappointing fashion to the Wilson Tigers 44-9.
In the course of the 48-minute football game, Darlington threw three interceptions, lost three fumbles, turned the ball over on downs twice, had one punt blocked and failed on one fake punt attempt.
“On the blocked punt, that is unacceptable,” Darlington head coach John Jones said. “We had two guys who have been playing there all year go the wrong way, the wrong way. The blocked punt is just unacceptable. You can’t go the wrong way when you have been playing the game this long especially as much as we work special teams. The turnovers, mental mistakes, you can’t make it, you can’t make it. We dug ourselves into just a huge whole.”
Wilson capitalized on those mistakes, turning those miscues into 31 of its 44 points, which included a 100-yard interception return late in the fourth quarter.
By the end of the first quarter, Darlington was already down 24-0 and its game plan against the Tigers had been changed completely.
“It changes everything; we lost Seven (Javorius Williams). Seven is our workhorse and we like to run the football with Seven. When you get down you don’t have time to run the ball and get back into the game.”
Darlington got on the board early in the second quarter when quarterback Silas Barr connected with Jordan English, who made an ESPN Sportscenter Top 10-like catch, bringing in the football with just one hand while dragging one foot in the end zone.
For a short moment it looked like English’s spectacular touchdown reception had sparked a little life into the Falcons’ football team. Following the score Darlington’s defense came up with a huge turnover, intercepting Zayshaun Rice and starting on the Tigers’ 14-yard line.
Three plays later however, Wilson’s Timothy Robinson made his first of two interceptions in the game and returned the ball all the way back to Darlington’s 13-yard line. Four plays later Rice was in the end zone for the Tigers, rushing from three yards out and sucking out any momentum that the Falcons may have had left from the their touchdown and forced turnover.
Darlington did tack on a field goal on its opening drive in the third quarter to make it just a three possession game, but Wilson answered the Falcons’ field goal with a touchdown, turning a 22-point lead into a 28-point blowout.
Wilson’s defense was responsible for the last touchdown as the Tigers picked off backup quarterback Brian Robinson, returning it 100 yards for the score.
The lost to the Tigers, one of Darlington’s biggest rivals, did not only spoil the Falcons homecoming; it puts them 0-1 in the region and in serious jeopardy of not making the playoffs this season with games against Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Marlboro County and Hartsville still left to play.
Darlington is currently 0-4 on the year.