Darlington loses more than a football game
By Don Gearhart
What was supposed to be a rivalry football game for players, families, and fans turned out to be a disappointment. The Falcons, riding a Week 1 victory and their first win in over three seasons, attracted a huge attendance. The home stands were nearly full and an extremely large standing crowd of mostly students were vocal at the start of the game.
Hartsville received the opening kickoff to start at their own 40-yardline. After two running plays netted eight yards, Carmello Mcdaniel broke several tackles before bursting through the secondary for a 52-yard touchdown with less than two minutes ticked off in the first quarter. Brayden Smith’s extra point try sailed through the uprights to give the Red Foxes an early 7-0 lead.
Darlington failed to move the sticks and had to punt on their first possession. Hartsville took over after the punt at the Darlington 46-yardline. An unsportsmanlike penalty moved the ball to the Falcons 31-yardline. McKendrie Douglas wasted little time in firing a 31-yard touchdown to a wide-open Keon Hickson. The PAT kick by Smith made the score 14-0.
Darlington’s second possession started at their own 25-yard line. On the first play, a pass interference call against the Red Foxes moved the ball to the 40-yardline. Three plays later, facing a 4th and 3 at their own 47-yardline, a sack ended the drive with Hartsville taking over at the Falcons 43-yardline. Hartsville methodically moved the ball to the Darlington 5-yardline to set up Hakeem Watters for a five-yard touchdown run. Smith was accurate again to set the score at 21-0 with 2:40 to play in the first frame.
Darlington’s third possession was a little more successful with Jalen Augustus completing passes of 22 and 14 yards to Keenan Dubose to put the Falcons in Red Foxes territory as the quarter ended. One play later, Hartsville recovered a Falcons fumble. Mixing runs with two completions of 12-yards each to Jackson Moore, Mcdaniels capped off the drive by scampering outside for a 12-yard score. The extra point kick by Smith raised the score to 28-0 with 9:30 to play in the quarter. Darlington had a quick three-and-out and punted with Hartsville enjoying good field position at the Darlington 37-yard line. On a first down play at the Falcons 11-yard line, a fumble was scooped up by Nyquan Williams who sprinted 90 yards for a Darlington score. The two-point conversion failed but the Falcons were on the scoreboard with the score 28-6 with 7:47 left to play before halftime. The Red Foxes took over at their own 35-yard line when the kickoff went out-of-bounds. After moving to the Darlington 12-yard line, once again a fumble resulted in a change of possessions. Darlington started on their own 9-yard line but moved the ball down the field via the passing game and aided by two major penalties called against Hartsville. With 3:41 left to play, Augustus connected with Dubose for a 22-yard touchdown. The final plays that the crowd got to watch were a series of penalty-laden plays by both teams while Darlington was attempting a two-point conversion. As the final attempt failed fights broke out on the Darlington side of the field prompting security to clear the stadium as players from both teams sprinted to the locker rooms.
This writer was advised that the game was over and everyone had to leave the stadium. It was only later that once the parking lots were emptied, the teams returned to the field to complete the game. It is sad that true fans did not get to see some of the highlights of the remaining minutes. Shortly after play resumed, Watters ripped off an 89-yard touchdown run to end the first half. Douglas capped off a drive with a 1-yard plunge and Watters added a 54-yard touchdown run in the third period. In the fourth quarter, with second team players on the field, E.J. Smith scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to account for the 55 points scored by Hartsville. Darlington added two touchdowns to make the final score 55-26.
Hartsville amassed 588 yards of offense with Watters running for 278 yards and Mcdaniel rushing for 203 yards.
In other Darlington County scores, Trinity Collegiate held off C.A. Johnson by a 30-26 score and Lamar lost to Dillon 38-6.