Falcons look like they were never off
By Drake Horton
“Friday Night Lights” on a Monday night; sounds kind of weird, doesn’t it?
Well, due to some unfortunate circumstances relating to the historic flooding the state saw over the past month, the Darlington Falcons finally took the field against the Crestwood Knights on Monday, October 12th at home at the Falcon Nest.
It marked the first game the Falcons had played in over 24 days, and while most would have thought a team would be rusty with such a layoff- that proved not to be the case for Darlington.
“That’s s tribute to those young men in purple, and that’s a tribute to these coaches right here,” Darlington head coach John Jones said after the game. “This coaching staff, those guys did a great job over 24 days keeping those guys together, keeping them focused.”
Before the home crowd could even get comfortable, Darlington was up 21-0 on the Knights and it never looked back as the Falcons cruised to a 46-14 victory.
The win, which improved the Falcons overall record to 4-2 overall, more importantly got Darlington started on the right track in region six, 3A while also ending a five-year losing streak to Crestwood.
Offensively, Darlington was just too much for the Knights as the Falcons outgained Crestwood 475 yards of total offense to just 230 yards.
Out of those 475 yards, 306 came on the ground in the Falcons vaulted running attack and leading the way on the ground for Darlington was Thomas Wheeler, who finished the night with 117 yards running on 14 carries to go along with his two touchdowns.
“I think we played real good tonight,” Wheeler said. “From the line on, we played good on all cylinders.”
Elmo Johnson was second on the team in rushing with 84 yards on 12 carries and quarterback Frankie Johnson was third, adding an extra 66 yards on just eight carries and a touchdown, which happened to be the first of game at the 10:13 in the first quarter.
But as Darlington has shown throughout the season, the Falcons are more than just a run heavy team. Instead, this team is the definition of balance and that was on display against Crestwood as Frankie completed eight of his 13 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown.
“We are really pleased, Frankie does a great job throwing the ball, the offensive line has got a lot better with pass protection and we have some receivers that can make things happen,” Jones said on the team’s overall offensive balance. “We preach about trying to be as balanced as we can and taking what they give us.”
Late in the second quarter, after the Falcons had already dropped two passes that would have been touchdowns, Darlington went back to the air again as Frankie threw back across the field to a wide open Elmo who ran in 63 yards out for the score with just 1:59 left in the opening half. He finished the night as the Falcons leading receiver with 96 yards receiving.
The touchdown, which was Darlington’s only score of the second quarter, was an answer to Crestwood’s first touchdown on the series before.
With a commanding 28-6 lead coming out of the half, Darlington kept its foot on the pedal. The Falcons first score of the second half came when Wheeler scored his second touchdown in the third quarter from 29 yards out.
The Falcons added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The first was Tyler Green’s 70-yard kick-off return to answer Crestwood’s only other touchdown of the game and the last came late in the fourth quarter when backup quarterback Joseph Scott scored on a six-yard run.
The Falcons were not all offense though, as Darlington’s defense smothered Crestwood’s hurry up offense. Robert Bacote was the leading tackler for the Falcons, finishing the night with 16 tackles.
Darlington vs Lakewood Recap
Darlington played its second game of the week on Friday, going on the road and defeating the Lakewood Gators 31-14. It improved the Falcons to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the region.
With the South Carolina High School League delaying the football playoffs for one week due to the rain, Darlington, who at one point was going to have to play four games in 12 days, is now back to normal schedule after having to play Crestwood and Lakewood in the same week.
The Falcons are getting ready to take on the Marlboro County Bulldogs this Friday at the Falcons Nest as Darlington will be celebrating its homecoming.
Hartsville defeated the Manning Monarchs 35-0 at home and the Lamar Silver Foxes defeated C.A. Johnson 39-0 while also playing at home this past Friday.