TRENTON, Ga. — Let the Good times roll.
Darlington School quarterback Jack Good had his way with the Dade County defense Friday night at Magic Morgan Stadium, accounting for all five touchdowns by the Tigers in a 33-7 road win in the GHSA Region 7-A (Division I) opener for both teams.
Good, a first-year starter, completed nine of 12 passes for 169 yards and four touchdowns while also adding 53 yards and a score on the ground.
The early stages hinted of a much closer game before Darlington (5-0) adjusted defensively. Dade County (3-2) took the opening kickoff, and with completions of 23 yards to Zeke Wheeler and 10 yards to Demetrius Walker by quarterback Brody Cooper, moved the ball inside the 30. A fumble on third down ended the series, with Joel Lowenburg getting the strip and recovery.
Darlington needed only two plays to take the game's first lead as Good found Talon Shirey on a post pattern for a 59-yard touchdown.
Darlington vs. Dade County on Sept. 23, 2022
Dade answered right back, needing just three plays to tie it as Cooper avoided a blitz and hit Wheeler, who had gotten behind the safety, for a 74-yard touchdown.
That, however, would be the last big play of the first half as the Darlington defense forced four three-and-outs. A Wolverines offense that gained 130 yards in its first two possession had a net loss of 7 yards the rest of the half.
"After we had the early success passing the ball, they sent more guys at us, which forced us to try and close gaps," Dade County coach Jeff Poston said. "They just sent more than we could block at times."
The Darlington offense, on the other hand, was just getting going. A 28-yard run by D'Marion Floyd keyed a 77-yard drive that ended with Good's 15-yard pass to Braden Bell for a 13-7 lead (a try for two points was unsuccessful).
The next series lasted one play. After setting up at the Dade 36 with a 25-yard punt return by Shirey, the Tigers pulled off a perfect flanker reverse flea-flicker, with Good connecting with Slade Clevenger for the easy score.
Good capped his big first half on the next drive when, on fourth-and-5, he went back to pass, scrambled right to avoid the rush, cut back left and streaked 32 yards for a touchdown and a commanding 26-7 lead.
The second half was sloppy by both teams, with Dade drawing nearly 150 yards in penalties and Darlington going to the running game with little success. The Tigers' defense remained in complete control, allowing only 50 yards after intermission and sacking Cooper four times.
The Darlington front line, led by 300-pounders Gus Gammage and Truitt Hayworth and 260-pound Gaitlin Hancock, was too much for the Dade front line.
Cooper managed to pass for 145 yards — 122 on five catches by Wheeler — though he rarely had a clean pocket.
"Brody gave us everything he had," Poston said. "We didn't do a good job of helping him out. Darlington was just a better team than us tonight. Brody also had to play defense at times due to injuries."
Shirey had 110 yards on five catches, including a 24-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that wrapped up the scoring, with Bowden Owens leading the ground game with 85 yards on 12 carries.
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.