Rogers, de­fense leads Tigers past Wolf­pack

Dar­ling­ton runs for 346 yards on of­fense in the Re­gion 6-A cross­over game.

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

The Dar­ling­ton Tigers aren’t sure if they will have to play next Fri­day or get an ex­tra week of rest be­fore start­ing the play­offs, but they know they have some mo­men­tum to help see them through ei­ther way.

Dar­ling­ton wres­tled away con­trol of its Re­gion 6-A cross­over game early Fri­day night and held off vis­it­ing White­field Academy to earn a 22-14 win in the fi­nal game of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

The Tigers will now wait to see where they fall in the fi­nal Class A Pri­vate Power Rat­ings be­fore de­ter­min­ing their play­off sce­nario. They went into Fri­day’s game at No. 7, and a spot in the top eight will give them a bye in the first round.

“We knew it was go­ing to be a very good foot­ball game, but I felt like we took a big step for­ward tonight head­ing into the play­offs,” Dar­ling­ton head coach Tommy Atha said. “They throw the ball re­ally well and our guys made some ad­just­ments. We just rose to the oc­ca­sion and made plays when we had to.”

Ju­nior run­ning back Kolin Rogers was the work­horse for Dar­ling­ton, run­ning for 249 yards on 51 car­ries and scor­ing all three of his team’s touch­downs. His per­for­mance put him over the cen­tury mark for the sea­son, giv­ing him 1,241 yards to­tal.

“Coach told us we had to give it our all and play for each other, and tonight that’s what we did,” Rogers said. “We gave it a hun­dred per­cent, no mat­ter what. I just wanted to do the best I could for my team­mates. I didn’t think I was go­ing to get the ball that much tonight, but that’s what hap­pened.”

While Dar­ling­ton (8-2) scored on its open­ing drive to go up 8-0, turnovers helped its op­po­nent to stay close and get within 15-14 at the end of the third quar­ter.

White­field’s first drive of the fi­nal quar­ter was cut short when Roth Wil­cox in­ter­cepted a pass from the Wolf­pack’s Cole Peter­son. Dar­ling­ton then turned to Rogers to spear­head a 45-yard drive that ended when he found room for a 14-yard touch­down run with 3:53 left to play.

White­field (6-4) got back on of­fense, but run­ning back Eric Lit­tle col­lided with Peter­son three plays into the pos­ses­sion on a botched play, caus­ing a fum­ble and Dar­ling­ton’s Tommy Atha Jr. jumped on it.

The Tigers be­gan an­other metic­u­lous drive with 2:19 left and, after con­vert­ing on fourth-and-2, ran out the clock to seal the vic­tory.

Dar­ling­ton fin­ished with 346 yards rush­ing to White­field’s 27. The Tigers’ of­fense was 11-of-15 on third down con­ver­sions and had 26 first downs to the Wolf­pack’s nine.

“I’m tremen­dously proud of our of­fen­sive line. We chal­lenged them this week and they re­sponded,” coach Tommy Atha said. “They took it per­son­ally and I think came out here to prove that we were bet­ter than what we had done all sea­son. I think they did that.”

Dar­ling­ton’s open­ing drive set the tone for the night as the Tigers ex­e­cuted a 21-play, 92-yard drive that took 9:11 off the clock and ended with Rogers scor­ing on an 8-yard run. The team con­verted five third downs in the process.

/ Jeremy Ste­wart

Dar­ling­ton’s Kolin Rogers (left) runs the ball down the field past White­field Academy’s Walker Smith (73) dur­ing Fri­day’s Re­gion 6-A cross­over game at Chris Hunter Sta­dium.

/ Jeremy Ste­wart

Dar­ling­ton quar­ter­back Frank Man­ning (14) slips by White­field Academy’s Walker Smith.

/ Jeremy Ste­wart

Dar­ling­ton’s Roth Wil­cox (3) re­turns a kick­off against White­field Academy on Fri­day night.

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