Silver Foxes fall to Falcons
Lots of offensive plays and a dominate third quarter propel Darlington to victory
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
Out with coaches worrying about the time of possession on offense, and in with coaches trying to run as many plays as possible as quickly as possible.
That has been a new theme in football over the last few years from high school, college, to even the NFL and that is exactly what the Darlington Falcons did to the Lamar Silver Foxes this past Friday night in its 43-31 comeback victory.
“I think they (Lamar) have a heck of a football team,” Darlington head coach John Jones said after the game, giving Lamar a lot of credit on its performance. “Coach Fountain and his staff they do an unbelievable job”
Darlington ran an impressive 83 total offensive plays compared to Lamar’s 58 and out of those 83 plays, 41 were run in the first half and 43 in the second half, with 27 of those 43 coming in the fourth quarter.
“We were fortunate in the second half to wear them down a little bit with our tempo and amount of plays we played,” Jones said on the impact his offense had on the game.
That, however, was not the only part of the game that had a huge influence in the Falcons come from behind victory.
Once again the Falcons coaching staff, led by Jones made all the proper adjustments at half time. Down 15-7 at half, Darlington exploded out the locker room, scoring 29 unanswered points in the second half, outscoring the Silver Foxes 22-0 in the third quarter.
“Credit to our coaching staff,” Jones said on the second half turnaround. “Those guys, I tell you every week we’ve been fortunate enough to win. I just manage the game, they do all the coaching, I manage the game and those guys (players) did a great job playing. We didn’t get off the bus in the first half, in the second half they came out with the intensity that we expect.”
The third quarter was a thing of beauty for the Falcons. Getting the ball to start the quarter, it took Darlington only three plays for quarterback Frankie Johnson to hit Elmo Johnson in stride for a 69-yard touchdown. Thomas Wheeler ran in the two point conversion to tie the game and from there Darlington never trailed again in the entire game.
“They (Lamar) were playing up, man, press coverage and it was one on one and Frankie threw a nice pass,” Elmo said on the touchdown reception.
Following that Falcon touchdown, the Darlington defense came up with one of its biggest plays of the game. Forcing Lamar to punt, the Silver Foxes and head coach Corey Fountain decided to roll the dice and fake the punt.
Instead, the gamble backfired and Kyreeq Fox intercepted the pass.
“My team did a good job, I just did something dumb in the third quarter,” Fountain said on the fatal play. “It’s my fault. It gave them (Darlington) the momentum, got them up two scores. That’s on me man, this loss is on me. I shouldn’t have gone for it on fourth down. That was stupid.”
Less than two minutes later the Falcons were back in the end zone as Wheeler scored his second touchdown of the game from five yards out to give Darlington its first lead of the game.
With the lead and momentum running strong on the Falcons side, Darlington decided to pull from its bag of tricks and do an onside kick following the touchdown and unlike Lamar’s try, the Falcons successfully recovered their kick.
Just a minute after recovering the kick, Wheeler scored his third and final touchdown of the game, breaking a 17-yard run that put the Falcons up by two scores.
“I can’t do it without my line,” Wheeler said, referring to what helped him have such a great night running the ball. “We work hard every day to get better.”
Lamar looked poised to answer Wheeler’s final touchdown, putting together a drive that reached inside the Falcons 20-yard line. But that stalled as Trae Caesar, Lamar’s star tailback, uncharacteristically fumbled the football allowing Darlington to recover it at its own eight-yard line to finish up a completely disastrous third quarter for the Silver Foxes.
Without such a lopsided third quarter, there is no telling how the game would have finished up because surprisingly enough Lamar outscored Darlington in all of the other quarters by a score 31-21.
Statistically, Darlington looked as impressive as ever, especially on the ground as the Falcons rushed for 408 yards. Frankie led the way with 126 yards, Wheeler was second with 119 yards, Elmo had 111 yards and Phache Richardson got 52 yards on just 10 carries, all of his coming in the second half.
But while the ground game was by far the Falcons weapon of choice against the Silver Foxes, Darlington showed balance as Frankie went 8-13 through the air for 162 yards. Elmo had two receptions for 76 yards, Darius Green caught four balls for 49 yards and Wheeler had two catches for 37 yards.
The statistics were not just impressive on the offensive side of the ball, however. Defensively, the Falcons are getting better and better every week just like the offense, and veteran defensive player Bryson Allen showed out against the Silver Foxes, recording 18 tackles.
“I give credit to Lamar, they did a heck of job coming out here and being prepared for what we had,” Allen said, commenting on the Falcons defense. “I can’t take all of that credit. The whole defensive line played good. Coach Spud had a good game plan and all of the credit goes to God.”
Frankie scored the Falcons two other touchdowns, both coming in the fourth quarter as Darlington and Lamar both scored two in the final period.
Darlington now gears up for its final non-conference game of the season, a home contest against the four time defending 2A state champions, the Dillon Wildcats.
Hartsville stayed undefeated for the season, defeating the Conway Tigers 57-26 on the road in Conway.