Falcons shake off slow start to beat Chesterfield
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
Bennettsville – What a difference a year makes.
Last year when the Darlington Falcons played in the Dennis Miller Jamboree of Champions, the Central Eagles defeated the Falcons 19-7, but a jamboree never truly tells what a team is made of.
That was the same Darlington team that went on to finish third in the region, making the playoffs.
Fast-forward a year later, and the Falcons have once again played in the same jamboree; but this time the result was different. Darlington dominated the Chesterfield Rams, winning 24-7 in two quarters of play on a hot Friday evening.
Chesterfield struck first, exploiting a busted coverage from the Falcons defense on the opening drive, connecting for a 32-yard touchdown on a wheel route.
Things did not get any prettier for Darlington on offense. After quarterback Joseph Scott converted a first down on third and short, the drive stalled and the Falcons turned the ball over on downs.
It was at that moment the Falcons decided to play football. On Chesterfield’s next drive, cornerback Tyler Greene made his first two interceptions and from there the defense was just plain dominant.
“It’s like a horse race,” Darlington head coach John Jones said. “You watch the Kentucky Derby; it’s not always the first team that gets out of the gate that wins the race. When you are young and you have to fight some adversity here and there and some inexperience it’s really important for us to not only be strong finishers, but we have got to learn to get off the bus and start stronger.”
After trading punts with each other, Darlington finally struck on the scoreboard as Scott threw his first touchdown of the game, a simple swing route for six yards with 1:34 left in the opening quarter.
Greene made his second interception of the game following the Falcons first touchdown and Darlington turned that turnover into points, with a 60-yard touchdown pass on a screen play to Joshua Gray with just 23.6 seconds left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Darlington added a 21-yard field goal and returned a fumble 45 yards for a touchdown as the Falcons put the game away for good.
Despite the rough start Darlington’s defense finished the game forcing four turnovers, three picks and one fumble and the offense scored 24 unanswered points and while that all appears good, Jones wants his team to start stronger.
“We’re sputtering around a little bit and we are going to play some good football teams and that is liable to put us in a hole early and that is something we don’t want to have to battle back from,” Jones said.
The two-quarter jamboree might have been just a small sample size to the regular season that starts this week, but if you are a Falcons’ fan you have to like what you saw.
The Falcons played in two other scrimmages this past week, defeating Creekbridge High School 14-6 on Thursday while losing to Central 21-13 on Saturday in McBee for the Chesterfield County Jamboree.
The scrimmage against Creekbridge was similar to the game against Chesterfield with the Falcons starting off sluggish before warming up and coming back for the win.
Darlington followed a different format against Central, however. The Falcons jumped on the Eagles 13-0, before Central scored 21 unanswered points.