Tigers shut out by Pace Acad­emy

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL SPORTS - By JEREMY STE­WART RN-T S[orts Ed­i­tor

Af­ter stand­ing strong through the reg­u­lar sea­son, Dar­ling­ton’s foot­ball team met a nearly im­mov­able force Fri­day night that would not break.

The Tigers, try­ing to add to their 10-0 record, faced a size­able op­po­nent in Pace Acad­emy in the first round of the Class AA state play­offs and were held score­less in a 31-0 loss.

“We knew com­ing in af­ter see­ing them on film we were go­ing to have to play flaw­less foot­ball,” Dar­ling­ton head coach Tommy Atha said. “We made some mis­takes, but they had to do with a lot of those mis­takes. They’re a big, phys­i­cal team.”

Pace quar­ter­back Gun­nor Faulk threw for 96 yards and three touch­downs, while run­ning backs Realus Ge­orge and Deon Jackson uti­lized the Knights’ big of­fen­sive line to pick up steady yardage.

Pace (9-2) racked up 285 yards of of­fense, while Dar­ling­ton had just 147. Tiger quar­ter­back Hunter Man­ning ac­counted for most of that af­ter he went 7 of 15 for 70 yards pass­ing and ran for an­other 40 yards.

With a size­able front line, Pace was able to keep a num­ber of play­ers on the perime­ter and beef up their cov­er­age in pass­ing sit­u­a­tions.

“They don’t have to keep as many peo­ple in the box, which makes it dif­fi­cult for you to throw the foot­ball,” Atha said. “Just their over­all size was the big­gest dif­fer­ence.”

Man­ning leads a se­nior group who fin­ished

their foot­ball ca­reer at Dar­ling­ton on Fri­day.

“You know, they’ve won a lot of foot­ball games, but they’ve also been great role mod­els for our younger kids and they’ve done ev­ery­thing we’ve asked them to do,” Atha said of the group.

“I know tonight it hurts. It hurts me. I know it hurts the se­niors es­pe­cially. I think af­ter a while they’ll be able to look back and re­al­ize what a spe­cial year it’s been.”

Sev­eral skill play­ers are set to re­turn for the Tigers, in­clud­ing run­ning backs Eli­jah McKoy and Ti­jai What­ley, who did not play against Pace as he con­tin­ues to re­cover from an in­jury he sus­tained in a game ear­lier this sea­son.

Dar­ling­ton (10-1) got the ball to start the game and started on the 20 af­ter Pace kicker Sa­muel Slo­man sent the ball into the end zone for the first of five times on the night.

McKoy started things off with a 10-yard run and Man­ning hit Jake Walker for a 13-yard gain to start the drive, and Man­ning picked up an­other first down on a 12-yard scram­ble two plays later.

The Tigers would be stymied just in­side Pace ter­ri­tory how­ever and have to punt. It would be the first of six straight drives to end that way for Dar­ling­ton.

Lan­don Lawrence’s punt put Pace back on their own 9, but the Knights got their run­ning game go­ing be­fore Faulk threw a short pass to Trey Blount on the left side with the ball on the Dar­ling­ton 47.

Blount then turned and ran straight to the end zone to put Pace on the board with 6:27 left in the open­ing quar­ter. Slo­man made his first of four ex­tra points to make it 7-0.

Penal­ties and Pace’s pass rush kept Dar­ling­ton from making any head­way on of­fense. But the Tigers kept press­ing un­til the fi­nal sec­ond.

Af­ter hold­ing the Knights to a 40-yard Slo­man field goal with 40.4 sec­onds left in the third quar­ter to make it 31-0, Dar­ling­ton came out and put to­gether one fi­nal drive.

Man­ning found suc­cess on the ground and in the air, and Johnny Treco had a 15-yard gain to move the chains dur­ing the 14-play se­ries. But with the ball on the 20, an in­com­plete pass on fourth-and-6 gave Pace the ball back with about three min­utes left.

“We played hard the whole time,” Atha said. “We very eas­ily could have rolled over sev­eral times, but there’s a lot of fight in our kids and I’m ex­tremely proud of them.”

Pace will play Screven County next week in the sec­ond round of the play­offs af­ter the Game­cocks beat Bryan County on Fri­day, 35-0.

Jeremy Ste­wart/RN-T

Pace Acad­emy’s Trey Blount (right) pushes his way past Dar­ling­ton’s Skyler Sledge dur­ing the first-round play­off game Fri­day, Nov. 13, 2015, at Dar­ling­ton.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.