DARLINGTON – After sitting out the first two games of the season, senior Seth Rowe couldn’t wait to suit up for the Darlington Redbirds.
Rowe made up for the lost time by rushing for 211 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Redbirds to their first win of the season with a 40-7 victory over Riverdale in their SWAL opener at Martens Field on Friday, Sept. 2.
The Redbirds’ fullback ripped off a 55-yard run on the first play of the game and scored from four yards out on the next play to put the hosts ahead 6-0.
Rowe added a 2-yard TD run later in the first quarter and ran in another from 19 yards out late in the second quarter to send the ‘Birds out to a 28-0 halftime lead.
Tyler Black tacked on an 8-yard TD run in the second quarter for the Redbirds (1-0 in SWAL, 1-2 overall), who ran for 297 yards and scored on all four possessions in the first half without attempting a pass.
Opening up the holes at the line for Darlington were tackles Hayden Black and John Sturtz, guards Eli Humphrey and A.J. Brandt and center Christen Ruf.
“We were extremely crisp early. That first gut play was a thing of beauty. We couldn’t have drawn it up any better than they executed it,” said Darlington head coach Scott Zywicki. “The kids have been putting in the time to get better. We did some good things. We still have some things to work on, but we were much more physical than Riverdale today.”
The ‘Birds extended the lead to 34-0 on their first possession of the second half when Rowe busted off a 25-yard TD run for his fourth score of the game.
Then, one play after a fumble recovery by Trent Nyffenegger at the Chieftains 20-yard line, senior Mitchell Whalen scampered in to lift the hosts to a 40-0 advantage.
Riverdale (0-1, 2-1), who had won its first two games to start the season, avoided the shutout thanks to a 5-yard TD run by Billy Silvers with four minutes to play to close the scoring at 40-7.
Darlington finished with 392 yards on the ground and 44 more through the air for a total of 436 yards on the day. Rowe rolled up 211 yards on 20 carries to lead the way, while Whalen added 63 yards and a TD on eight carries and Black chipped in with 56 yards on nine totes with a score for the ‘Birds.
Mitchell Langkamp tallied 53 yards on six carries, and quarterback Zach McArthur completed a pair of passes to Storm Wiegel for 44 yards.
Dakota Lins ran 10 times for 67 yards and completed 9-of-17 passes for 128 with an interception to lead the Chieftains, who finished with 260 total yards. Silvers added 53 yards on the ground and 44 yards through the air for Riverdale.
Defensively, Brandon Hardyman swiped a pass deep in Darlington territory on Riverdale’s first drive of the game, while Nyffenegger and Rowe each recovered fumbles for the ‘Birds.
Darlington faces a stiff challenge their next time out as they host Iowa-Grant (1-0, 3-0) in a key SWAL showdown at Martens Field on Friday, Sept. 9. Kickoff will be at 3:30 p.m.
Riverdale.…. 0 0 0 7 - 7
Darlington... 14 14 6 6 - 40
D – Seth Rowe, 4 run (kick failed)
D – Rowe, 2 run (Rowe run)
D – Tyler Black, 8 run (McArthur kick)
D – Rowe, 19 run (McArthur kick)
D – Rowe, 25 run (kick failed)
D – Mitchell Whalen, 20 run (run failed)
R – Silvers, 5 run (Franklin kick)
Team Stats: First Downs- R 12; D 15. Rushing- R 32-132; D 45-392. Passing- R 9-17-1, 128; D 2-3-0, 44. Fumbles-Lost- R 2; D 0. Penalties- R 1-5, D 7-60.
Darlington Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)- Seth Rowe, 20-211-4. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)- Zach McArthur, 2-3-0-0, 44. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)- Storm Wiegel, 2-44-0.