A bad second quarter led to zero second chances against Wilson
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
If last week was not tough enough for the Darlington Falcons as it watched the Cheraw Braves celebrate on Falcons’ home field in WPDE’s game of the week, this past Friday against the Wilson Tigers has to put the icing on the cake for the young season.
When the final seconds ticked off the clock the Falcons, their home crowd could do nothing but watch as Wilson’s players ran across the field to take the Virgil Wells Trophy for the first time since its inauguration three years ago, given to the winner of this game each year.
Losing the trophy and losing to a bitter rival like Wilson is tough enough for any Falcon with a competitive spirit, but this game was different from the previous ones in the series. Instead of being close and down to the wire like most of these games have been, the Tigers shell shocked the Falcons on way to a 48-7 victory.
From start to finish Wilson dictated whatever it wanted to do and as hard as Darlington tried it just never had an answer.
Up 13-0 after the first quarter, the Tigers did no wrong in the second and capitalized on every Falcon mistake, scoring 35 points in the quarter alone, going into half up 48-0.
“You got to make plays,” Darlington head coach John Jones said after the game. “They made the plays, they got after the loose balls, and we put balls on the ground. At the end of the day the team that makes the least amount of mistakes is going to win the football game.”
In that fatal second quarter, Wilson, in this order, turned a short punt into a 30-yard touchdown run, faked a punt and got to the Falcon three-yard line before converting that into another touchdown, returned a fumble for over 30 yards for touchdown, hit a 28-yard touchdown pass following the referees missing a Tiger fumble and then finally recovered a Falcon fumble on the kick off deep in Darlington territory that it turned into a touchdown only two plays later.
The quarter was so dominant for Wilson that the Tigers scored 28 of their 35 points in less than three minutes of total game time. It may have been worse as Wilson was driving late in the quarter, but the Falcons defense forced a most needed fumble at the Darlington nine-yard line with 2:40 left before half.
While there were numerous factors that resulted in the lopsided first half, one of the biggest contributors for Darlington was their special teams.
From giving up a big play on a fake punt, to allowing Wilson to recover a kick off deep in Darlington territory on a misplay on the ball, to poor punting from the Falcons gave the Tigers everything they needed plus some.
In the first half alone the average starting field position for Wilson was on the Darlington 35-yard line when the Falcons were forced to punt. The Tigers also started one drive on the Falcons 13-yard line after the kick off gaffe.
Offensively, Darlington had chances to make something of the game, but it was mistake after mistake that proved fatal.
After falling behind 6-0 in the first quarter, the Falcons went to work, marching down the field, but a fumble deep in Wilson Territory stalled the drive.
In the second quarter, Darlington was on the move again, getting to the Tigers 15-yard line before an interception stopped the drive and let Wilson run the clock out.
The Falcons finally found the end zone in the third quarter when quarterback Joseph Scott hit wide receiver Eric Brown in stride for a 66-yard touchdown with less than six minutes left in the quarter. That was the last score for either team in the game.
With the loss Darlington is now 0-2 on the year and gets ready to play a dangerous and talented Lamar Silver Foxes team in its third straight home game to start the season off before it goes on the road for four consecutive games.
“We got to get them lined up and where they are supposed to be and doing what they are supposed to do, what else can I say,” Jones said on getting his team ready for next week. “We have to be better coached; we are not a good coached football team.”
In other games involving Darlington County schools it was somewhat of a better picture.
The Hartsville Red Foxes crushed the South Florence Bruins 61-14 at home while the Lamar Silver Foxes were just as impressive, defeating the Central Eagles 31-0 in Pageland.
Trinity-Byrnes lost 27-13 to Dillon Christian in Dillon.