FENNIMORE – There’s been no stopping the Darlington Redbirds on their way to another SWAL title.
The #2-ranked Redbirds secured at least a share of their fourth conference league crown with a dominating 63-0 victory over the Fennimore Golden Eagles at FHS on Friday, Oct. 7.
“I thought our kids played extremely well against Fennimore on Friday. They are a very good team and I thought we made them look average. The kids did a great job on both sides of the ball,” said Darlington head coach Scott Zywicki.
Darlington senior halfback Hunter Johnson turned in another jaw-dropping performance on the gridiron, rushing 12 times for 200 yards with five touchdowns and added an interception on defense– all while playing just the first half– to lead the Redbirds.
Those numbers put H. Johnson over the 5,000-yard rushing mark and 6,000-yard all-purpose mark for his career. He also moves into third-place on Wisconsin’s all-time scoring list (604 points) and into second-place on the state’s career touchdown list (98 TDs) with his eighth multi-TD game of the season.
H. Johnson scored the first two times he touched the ball in the game, taking his first hand-off 55 yards and his second 45 yards to pay dirt, He also added a 4-yard TD run in the opening quarter to carry the Redbirds (8-0 overall, 5-0 SWAL) out to a 28-0 lead.
Senior Jared Meister also returned a fumble 57 yards for a score for the ‘Birds in the quarter. Junior kicker Connor McGowan started off a perfect 9-for-9 night by connecting on all four of his extra point kicks in the first quarter.
Senior halfback Trevor Johnson ripped off a 64-yard TD run with 8:38 remaining in the first half, and H. Johnson added scoring jaunts of nine and eight yards in the final three minutes of the second quarter to send the ‘Birds into the intermission sporting a 49-0 advantage.
Senior Brayden McDonald raced 22 yards for a score in the third quarter and junior Grady Reilly scored from 10 yards out in the fourth quarter to put the finishing touches on the rout. Darlington has now scored in 20 consecutive quarters and reached 60 points or more in five straight games.
The Redbirds ran 43 times for 539 yards and eight TDs. They attempted just one pass all night, which fell incomplete.
T. Johnson toted the ball four times for 106 yards and a score, while junior fullback Tyler Mosley carried it nine times for 121 for the ‘Birds.
Fennimore’s Jordan Williams completed 8-of-24 passes for 127 yards, but the Golden Eagles (5-3, 4-2) managed only 10 net rushing yards on 21 attempts.
The Darlington defense forced four turnovers (two fumbles and two interceptions) en route to their fourth shutout effort this season.
“The defense forced some turnovers, and the offense hit on some big plays once again. It was a very well played game for the most part,” stated Zywicki.
The SWAL title will be on the line on Friday, Oct. 14, when the Redbirds close the regular season against Iowa-Grant (5-3, 4-1) in their SWAL finale at IGHS in Livingston. A win will lock up a fourth straight outright title for the Redbirds, while a Panther win will forge a tie for the league title. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
“I-G is not a big team, but they show a lot of toughness on film. We will have the size advantage, but we’ll have to match that toughness and play well,” Zywicki noted.
Darlington… 28 21 7 7 – 63
Fennimore… 0 0 0 0 – 0
D – Hunter Johnson, 55 run (Connor McGowan kick)
D – H. Johnson, 45 run (McGowan kick)
D – Jared Meister, 57 fumble return (McGowan kick)
D – H. Johnson, 4 run (McGowan kick)
D – Trevor Johnson, 64 run (McGowan kick)
D – H. Johnson, 9 run (McGowan kick)
D – H. Johnson, 8 run (McGowan kick)
D – Brayden McDonald, 22 run (McGowan kick)
D – Grady Reilly, 10 run (McGowan kick)
Team Stats: First Downs– D 16; F 8. Rushing– D 43-539; F 21-10. Passing– D 0-1-0, 0; F 8-24-2, 127. Fumbles-Lost– D 2-2; F 2-2. Penalties– D 6-60; F 4-25.
Darlington Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)– Hunter Johnson, 12-200-5; Trevor Johnson, 4-106-1; Tyler Mosley, 9-121-0. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)– Jared Meister, 0-1-0-0, 0. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)– None.