DARLINGTON – The Redbirds gave their fans plenty to celebrate on Homecoming Night at Martens Field.
Junior quarterback Blake Whalen tossed three touchdowns and ran for another as Darlington raced to a 43-7 victory over the visiting Southwestern Wildcats on Friday, Sept. 29.
One week after posting their first victory of the season, the Redbirds (2-5 overall, 1-3 SWAL) rolled up nearly 450 yards of total offense en route to their first conference win.
“That was a challenge for the kids to play the way they are capable of and not worry about the opponent. I thought they did that very well tonight,” said Darlington head coach Scott Zywicki.
After Darlington’s defense stepped up and forced the Wildcats (2-5, 0-4) to punt on the opening possession of the game, the ‘Birds took over on offense at their own 5-yard line. Still at the 5 on third down, Whalen found a wide open Grady Rielly down the field and Rielly did the rest taking it all the way to the house for a quick score.
Bailey McGuire’s extra point made it 7-0 just over three minutes into the game.
Whalen scrambled for a 31-yard TD run on the Redbirds’ second possession to extend the lead to 14-0 with 5:46 remaining in the first quarter, and then senior running back Kameron Blosch ripped off a 47-yard scoring jaunt just over a minute later to make it 21-0 in Darlington’s favor.
Whalen tacked on a pair of touchdown passes in the second quarter, teaming with Blosch on a 21-yard scoring strike and connecting with senior tight end Brogan Evenstad on a 26-yard TD reception to put the ‘Birds ahead 36-0 at the intermission.
“I thought Blake did a great job of throwing some beautiful, catchable balls right into (the receivers) arms,” stated Zywicki. “We were able to get over the top of their defense on some passing plays and some running plays as well.”
Junior fullback Kolbe Ubersox added a 9-yard TD run for the Redbirds in the third quarter to push the advantage to 43-0.
The Wildcats, who managed 199 total yards for the game with 161 coming through the air, turned in a big play of their own late in the third quarter when Dylan Rieken took a short pass from Zack Splinter and raced 86 yards for a TD to avoid the shutout.
The Redbirds finished the game with 295 rushing yards on 40 carries and added 152 passing yards on just three completions– all of which went for scores. Providing the blocks along the line of scrimmage for the ‘Birds were Evenstad, McGuire, Bailey Schilling, Chase Mosley, Connor McGowan, Jacob Riechers and Ben Cooper.
Whalen went 3-of-4 through the air for 152 yards with three TDs to guide the Redbird attack.
Blosch ran 11 times for 109 yards and one TD and caught one pass for 21 yards and another TD. Rielly added 141 all-purpose yards with 46 coming on four carries and 95 more coming on one catch. Ubersox ran eight times for 70 yards and a score.
With two league games remaining, Darlington’s post-season push resumes Friday night when they head to Livingston to face the Iowa-Grant Panthers (4-3, 2-2) in a key SWAL showdown.
It is essentially a playoff game for each team with both needing a victory in order to remain in the playoff hunt.
“Iowa-Grant is a very solid football team with a very, very good running back in Brady Peat,” Zywicki said. “They’re not fancy. They’re going to do what they do and try to get a big play here or there on you.”
Southwestern…… 21 15 7 0 – 43
Darlington……….. 0 0 7 0 – 7
D – Grady Rielly, 95 pass from Blake Whalen (Bailey McGuire kick)
D – Whalen, 31 run (McGuire kick)
D – Kameron Blosch, 47 run (McGuire kick)
D – Blosch, 21 pass from Whalen (McGuire kick)
D – Brogan Evenstad, 26 pass from Whalen (Whalen run)
D – Kolbe Ubersox, 9 run (McGuire kick)
S – Rieken, 86 pass from Splinter (kick good)
Team Stats: First Downs– S 4, D 11. Rushing– S 19-38; D 40-295. Passing– S 6-na-2, 161; D 3-4-0, 152. Fumbles-Lost– S 1-1; D 1-1. Penalties- S 5-35; D 9-85.
Darlington Individual Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)– Kameron Blosch, 11-109-1; Kolbe Ubersox, 8-70-1. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)– Blake Whalen, 3-4-0-3, 152. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)– Grady Rielly, 1-95-1; Brogan Evenstad, 1-26-1; Blosch, 1-21-1.