Darlington unleashes secret weapon, soars past Cheraw
By Drake Horton
Sometimes you may hear a person say that “some secrets are best if kept hidden”.
That may be true depending on the situation and circumstances, but when it comes to the Darlington Falcons this secret had been kept for long enough.
Remember the name Elmo Johnson from the football team last season? Well if you do not that is ok, because up to this point his football career has been relatively quiet.
He has had some success with basketball, but when it came to the gridiron he has been overshadowed at the wide receiver position by the likes of Traquan Dubose from last season and Darius Green for the early part of this season.
Well, there happens to be a big reason Elmo has had such a modest time at the wide receiver position. That is because he is better suited for the tailback position.
In his first game at his new position, Elmo helped lead the Falcons to an impressive 47-20 win over the Cheraw Braves on the road to improve Darlington’s record to 2-1 overall.
“Elmo works his tail off,” Darlington head coach John Jones said after the game. “He’s done a great job for us, but at the same time those five guys up front worked their tail off too.”
Elmo echoed those words from his coach, giving so much of the credit of his successful night to those around, all while acknowledging that while he had a good game, he could still do better.
“I did well, but I can do better,” Elmo said on his inaugural performance at tailback. “My teammates helped me, the line blocked, I love the line. The line blocked and I couldn’t do it without them.”
But it was Elmo that was the center of Darlington’s success this past Friday in Cheraw. Out of the Falcons 569 yards of total offense, he finished with 176 yards on the ground and 81 yards receiving. That’s 45% of the entire offense.
And while nobody knew that Elmo was about to begin a role reversal for Darlington in the game, according to him it is something that he has been preparing for since the start of the season.
“I’ve been playing running back ever since the season started,” Elmo said, explaining how he was able to look so fluid in his first game at the tailback position. “I’ve just been practicing.”
To go along with 257 total yards of offense, Elmo finished the night with three touchdowns. The first came from 20 yards out, the second was a 32-yard run and the third was another 32-yard run, almost a mirror image of his second.
Elmo was not the only offense though. As has been since the start of the season, quarterback Frankie Johnson added two more rushing touchdowns, one from 24 yards out and the other from 27 yards out.
And while the offense shined at its brightest for the Falcons against Cheraw, both Darlington’s defense and special teams had its bright moments.
Defensively, Josh Chester recovered a Cheraw fumble and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown and place kicker Garet Dove hit five of seven of his extra point attempts, by far his best performance of the season.
Darlington’s complete domination of Cheraw did have an early hiccup, however.
At one point, early in the game, it looked like the Falcons were in for tough night. With a late start due to weather, Darlington went three and out on the opening drive of the game and Cheraw marched right down the field, setting itself up a for a field goal attempt from around 30 yards out.
The Braves missed the attempt, however, and from there the Falcons rocked and rolled jumping out to a 21-7 lead by halftime.
“They did a great job as a team,” Jones said on his team’s resilience shown from a slow start. “We were worried we got here, we were a little flat, had a rain delay, lightening delay and I give our young men credit.”
Cheraw closed the gap in the third quarter, scoring 13 unanswered points and reducing the Falcons lead to just one point. That was as close as Cheraw got though as Darlington refocused and held the Braves scoreless for the rest of the game.
What made this game even the more impressive is how much Darlington has improved since its first game against Carolina Forest. It seems like each and every quarter the Falcons are getting better and better.
“That’s a tribute to our kids, that’s a tribute to the coaching staff,” Jones said on the team’s continuous improvement. “It’s like I said to the guy the other day I just manage the team. Our coaching staff does a great job getting our guys better every week.”
Thomas Wheeler scored Darlington’s last touchdown of the night, a four yard run straight up the middle in the fourth quarter that iced the game for good. He finished the night with 86 yards rushing.
Frankie had 98 yards rushing to go along with two rushing touchdowns. He also went 7-13 for 158 yards through the air with Green being his best target, catching three passes for 93 yards.
Hartsville defeated the Camden Bulldogs 42-7 and the Lamar Silver Foxes defeated the Timmonsville Whirlwinds 51-6.