Tigers step up

Dar­ling­ton re­sets at half­time against Trion to pull ahead in the Re­gion 6-A/A game.

Rome News-Tribune - - SPORTS - By Jeremy Ste­wart JSte­wart@RN-T.com

There was no doubt in Dar­ling­ton head coach Tommy Atha’s mind that Trion was go­ing to give ev­ery­thing it had to try and top his team on the road at Chris Hunter Sta­dium on Fri­day night.

The Tigers found a way to make sure that didn’t hap­pen.

Down 14-10 at half­time fol­low­ing a Tri­on­heavy sec­ond quar­ter, No. 10 Dar­ling­ton found a re­newed en­ergy in the sec­ond half and pushed its way to a 17-14 win in the Re­gion 6-A/A game. The vic­tory is the sec­ond three-point win in a row for the Tigers, who are No. 4 in the GHSA Class A Pri­vate Power Rat­ings.

Atha said his team was well aware of the type of foot­ball that Trion and head coach Justin Brown play, be­ing re­gion op­po­nents for the ma­jor­ity of the last six years.

“We talked about it all week. We knew this was go­ing to be the most phys­i­cal game of the year thus far. Coach Brown is a good friend of mine, and we have the ut­most re­spect for what they do and how their kids play. It’s al­ways a phys­i­cal af­fair, and ob­vi­ously that proved true again tonight,” Atha said.

“The de­fense made great ad­just­ments in the sec­ond half and showed a lot of tenac­ity. We made plays on of­fense when we had to and found a way to get the ball in the end zone. Just couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Dar­ling­ton won the bat­tle for time of pos­ses­sion and stayed in con­trol of the clock dur­ing piv­otal mo­ments in the sec­ond half, keep­ing the Bull­dogs’ of­fense off the field.

Rhett McDur­mon and Tate Ra­tledge had key tack­les in the fi­nal two quar­ters that forced Trion into tough sit­u­a­tions, in­clud­ing miss­ing a 37-yard field goal and punt­ing twice.

The Tigers (6-1, 3-1 6-A/A) took the lead for good on a 13-play, 80-yard drive that took up 4:50 in the third quar­ter, leav­ing 46.7 se­conds to go in the pe­riod.

Kolin Rogers, who fin­ished with 45 yards on 15 car­ries, scored from 3 yards out and Alex Lid­dle added the ex­tra point to make it 17-14.

Trion was led by a pow­er­ful run­ning game and the per­for­mance of al­laround ath­lete Ha­gen Willing­ham, who fin­ished with 152 yards and a touch­down on 16 car­ries.

The Bull­dogs (5-3, 2-3) scored on back-to-back drives in the sec­ond quar­ter to go up 14-3, each one set up by a long run by Willing­ham.

The se­nior had a 48-yard run on the first play of a drive that be­gan af­ter Trion re­cov­ered a fum­ble forced by the Bull­dogs’ Ko­diak Crabbe, and Bryce Wallin scored from a yard out to cap it.

Af­ter a Tiger three­and-out, Trion got back on of­fense with Willing­ham tak­ing con­trol with a 45-yard run be­fore find­ing space for a 17-yard touch­down run with 5:02 to play.

Dar­ling­ton got back some mo­men­tum be­fore the break, how­ever, as quar­ter­back Frank Man­ning scram­bled on third-and-11 be­fore let­ting a high pass go down­field to­ward Gill Mauer, who was in stride as he caught the ball and took it in for a 61-yard score.

The Tigers then held Trion to a three-and-out of its own to keep the score 14-10.

Dar­ling­ton is on the road next week as it trav­els to Bow­don, while Trion is off.

/ Jeremy Ste­wart

Dar­ling­ton quar­ter­back Frank Man­ning (14) finds room to run on the out­side around Trion’s Clay Baker (72) dur­ing a Re­gion 6-A/A game against Trion on Fri­day night at Chris Hunter Sta­dium. The Tigers won 17-14.

/ Jeremy Ste­wart

Trion’s Ha­gen Willing­ham (cen­ter) is tack­led by Dar­ling­ton’s Daw­son Wil­liams (25) and Tommy Atha Jr. (32) dur­ing the sec­ond quar­ter Fri­day night.

/ Jeremy Ste­wart

Dar­ling­ton’s Cam Wat­son reaches out to re­cover the ball af­ter a fum­ble dur­ing the first quar­ter.

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