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FOOTBALL: Tigers’ stiff defense stops Bulldogs

A huge special teams play, solid offense and two big defensive stands powered the Darlington Tigers to a big 42-14 win Friday night over Region 6-A foe Trion.

Leading the Bulldogs 14-0 late in the first quarter, Darlington’s defense had its back against the wall with Trion inside their 10-yard line.

The Bulldogs went for it on fourth and goal from the two, but the Tigers kept them out of the end zone.

After taking the ball over at their own two-yard line, Darlington methodically drove the field.

Quarterback Logan Rice hit Mike Muschamp for a big first down early in the drive, and Chas Williams had a big run before Rice powered the ball into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown, capping the drive.

The score put the Tigers up 21-0, and the Bulldogs never recovered.

“That stop was huge for our defense. Trion made some big plays and really put our backs up against the wall,” Darlington coach Tommy Atha said. “Going 98 yards and being able to score after that was big.”

The game couldn’t have started any better for the Tigers as junior Trey Edge took the opening kickoff 72 yards for a touchdown, putting the Tigers up 7-0 early.

The Tigers’ offense marched down the field on their second possession with Rice hitting Muschamp in the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

Darlington’s defense had another key stop late in the first half.

After pinning the Bulldogs deep on good special teams tackling on a kickoff, the Tigers forced Trion to go three and out.

After a short punt, Darlington took over at midfield with less than two minutes to go before halftime. Two runs got the Tigers closer, and then Rice hit Jeremiah McClure in stride for a 38-yard touchdown and a 28-0 halftime lead.

“I can’t get over how well we played tonight,” Atha said. “I feel like we are continuing to improve, and that we’re becoming a lot more dynamic offensively.”

The Bulldogs managed to find the end zone early in the third quarter when quarterback Cory Bethune found Chandler Latham in the back of the end zone. Latham, sandwiched between two Tigers defenders, managed to tip and then catch the pass falling on his back for the touchdown.

The Tigers would add two more touchdowns in the third quarter with Rice bulling in from one yard out, and Will Mathis scoring on an 11-yard run, giving Darlington a 42-7 lead.

Trion’s Devonya Farmer scored the final touchdown of the night on a four-yard run.

The win moves Darlington’s record to 4-1 and 1-0 in Region 6-A, while Trion falls to 3-2 and 0-1 in region.

“Winning or losing this game was not the end all, be all for either team, but winning it certainly puts us in a good position for the region,” Atha said.

Next week, both teams will have a bye. On Oct. 11, Darlington travels to play Christian Heritage, while Trion plays host to Mt. Zion.

The game also served as Darlington’s homecoming game with Maggie Beth Atha being crowned homecoming queen. Will Mathis was crowned homecoming king. Mathis’ dad stood in for him at halftime.

Atha, who was in the locker room with the team at halftime, didn’t realize his daughter had won until after the game. After talking with the players, Atha engulfed his daughter in a bear hug and then posed for pictures with her, Mathis and several players.