MCDONALD'S SWNEWS4U.COM GAME OF THE WEEK (Nov. 4–11)
PREP FOOTBALL: Darlington 50, Platteville 13
DARLINGTON — After falling behind early, Darlington picked up momentum by scoring 50 unanswered points to roll over the Platteville Hillmen, 50-13, in their regular season finale at Martens Field on Friday, Nov. 6.
The game was originally scheduled to be played at Platteville High School on Saturday afternoon but the date and venue had to be changed after the Hillmen volleyball team earned a state berth when Madison Edgewood was forced to pull out of the tournament due to COVID concerns.
Platteville (2-5 overall) opened strong, recovering a Redbirds’ fumble on the second play of the game and then scoring seven plays later on a 4-yard touchdown run by senior John Goomey to go ahead 7-0 just over three minutes into the game.
It was all Redbirds (4-1) from there as junior quarterback Braden Davis made up for his early fumble by rushing for two touchdowns and throwing for two more scores to fuel the comeback.
Davis hit pay dirt from six and 10 yards out on Darlington’s next two possessions to thrust the hosts into the lead at 12-7 with 4:19 to play in the opening stanza, and he connected with senior Cayden Rankin on a 68-yard scoring strike early in the second quarter to extend the lead to 18-7.
“Obviously not the way you want to start a game, but it is what it is and we got back to doing what we needed to do, and I’m happy for that,” said Darlington head coach Travis Winkers.
Junior running back Brady Horne added a 1-yard TD blast with just over five minutes remaining in the half; and just 86 seconds later– two plays after the Redbirds’ defense recovered a Platteville fumble at the Hillmen 18– Horne ripped off a 13-yard scoring jaunt push the advantage to 30-7.
“The players simply did their jobs. They trusted the game plan and didn’t panic when we fumbled on our second play of the game,” noted Winkers.
In the third quarter, Davis hooked up with senior Carter Lancaster on a 12-yard aerial for his second TD pass of the night and 5’5”, 160-pound freshman running back Breylin Goebel scampered in on a 50-yard TD run to make it 43-7 and start up the mercy-rule continuous clock.
Senior Parker Fitzsimons got into the scoring act with 9:43 remaining when he busted loose for a 34-yard TD run. Senior Cole Crist’s second PAT of the game allowed the ‘Birds to reach the 50-point mark for the first time in four seasons.
“I think we executed our main plays well. We are getting better each week offensively in regards to blocking up front and blocking on the perimeter. The team that blocks and tackles the best usually wins the game,” Winkers said.
Goomey closed the scoring of the night with a 1-yard plunge for the Hillmen midway through the fourth quarter.
Darlington rolled up a season-high 423 yards on total offense on the night after rushing 29 times for 250 yards and six scores while adding a season-best 173 passing yards on seven completions with two scores.
Davis connected on 7-of-9 passes for 173 yards and two TDs and also led the ground attack with 73 rushing yards on nine carries with two more TDs.
“Braden’s a pretty special kid and I’m glad we’ve got him for another year after this,” Winkers said.
Goebel chipped in with 68 yards on six totes with a TD, and Horne ran for 61 yards on nine carries and two scores.
Lancaster hauled in four catches for 98 yards and a TD, while Rankin had three catches for 85 yards and a score for the ‘Birds, who have now scored in 12 consecutive quarters during their three-game winning streak.
“We’re hopefully moving in the right direction here going into playoffs,” Winkers said.
Defensively, the Redbirds gave up a season-low 119 yards to the Hillmen, including just 45 yards in the entire second half. Goomey accounted for 71 of the Hillmen’s 79 rushing yards on 22 carries with two TDs.
“I thought Brady Horne and Breylin Goebel both played very well at the linebacker spot. Another guy that has been playing very well up front is (senior) James Hartwig. He may not get the tackles but he demands a lot of double-teams, which frees up our linebackers,” Winkers pointed out.
With the win, Darlington earned the top seed in its four-team regional playoff bracket, the culminating event in the WIAA football season, and will host La Cross Aquinas (3-3) at Martens Field on Friday, Nov. 13.
“Aquinas is a very good team whose record is deceiving. They have three losses to D2/D3 teams in Onalaska, Tomah and West Salem. Only the Onalaska game was one-sided. They also dominated a Mauston team giving them their only loss of the year. Aquinas beat us last year and has many players back from that team. It is going to be a dogfight,” remarked Winkers.
The winner is scheduled to play the winner of the opening round game between Lancaster (4-3) and Melrose-Mindoro (4-2), but that could change too as the post-season is becoming a pretty fluid event in 2020.
SWAL rival Mineral Point (5-0) is in another pod along with Palmyra-Eagle (2-5), Waterloo (3-3) and Cambridge (4-2). The Darlington-Mineral Point game from earlier in the season was canceled due to a localized COVID-19 outbreak, and the placement of the Pointers in another pod was not what the Redbirds had hoped for.
The hope is that if Darlington, Mineral Point and Lancaster all win their opening round games that the Pointers and Redbirds could switch opponents to face one another with the Flying Arrows advancing to face the winner of the Waterloo-Cambridge game.
“There’s no state title to go to; we missed out on playing them (Mineral Point). They are 20 minutes away and it’s one of the oldest rivalries in the history of the state of Wisconsin,” Winkers said. “They (Mineral Point), are very, very good, and we want to see if we can beat them.”
Platteville…. 7 0 0 6 – 13
Darlington… 12 18 13 7 – 50
P – John Goomey, 4 run (Addie kick)
D – Braden Davis, 6 run (kick failed)
D – Davis, 10 run (kick failed)
D – Cayden Rankin, 68 pass from Davis (kick failed)
D – Brady Horne, 1 run (kick failed)
D – Horne, 13 run (2-pt failed)
D – Carter Lancaster, 12 pass from Davis (2-pt failed)
D – Breylin Goebel, 50 run (Crist kick)
D – Parker Fitzsimons, 39 run (Crist kick)
P – Goomey, 1 run (kick failed)
Team Stats: First Downs– P 11, D 12. Rushing– P 40-79; D 29-250. Passing– P 4-15-1, 40; D 7-9-0, 173. Fumbles-Lost– P 3-1; D 1-1. Penalties- P 4-30; D 4-40.
Darlington Individual Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)– Braden Davis, 9-73-2; Breylin Goebel, 6-68-1. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)– Davis, 7-9-0-2, 173. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)– Carter Lancaster, 4-98-1; Rankin, 3-85-1.
Platteville Individual Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)– John Goomey, 22-77-2. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)– Derek Digman 4-15-1, 40. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)– Logan Page 3-29-0.