The star: Darlington quarterback Logan Rice rushed for 121 yards and four touchdowns.
Up next: Darlington travels to top-ranked ELCA in the second round of the Class A private school playoffs.
ROME, Ga. — Make no mistake, this was personal.
Darlington School football coach Tommy Atha wanted his team to show a little attitude in Friday night's rematch with Christian Heritage in the GHSA Class A private school first-round playoff game, and the Tigers did just that.
Rushing for 345 yards, the Tigers routed the Lions, 41-17, and will travel to top-ranked ELCA next week.
Christian Heritage, making its first GHSA playoff appearance in two years of varsity play, ended its season at 8-3. Darlington is 10-2.
"We came out with a chip on our shoulders tonight and played with a lot of heart and passion," said Atha, whose team won a five-point game earlier this season in Dalton and a game marred by several personal-foul penalties. "The biggest thing tonight was finishing drives, which is something we didn't do the last two times we played them."
Darlington quarterback Logan Rice and running back Trey Edge combined for 287 yards, with Rice scoring four touchdowns and Edge reaching the end zone on the game's first play in a 55-yard run that set the tone.
"We said before the game that we needed something positive to happen early for us, and they just whipped us up front on that first play," Christian Heritage coach Preston Poag said. "Darlington is a good team and they've got some hard runners as well. This is about building blocks. We've been in this thing for two years, and we're only going to get stronger and better. I told them to keep their heads up and next year we'll go further in the playoffs."
The nightmare start didn't end with Edge's big run. After a three-and-out for the Lions, Darlington blocked the ensuing punt and made it 14-0 eight plays later on Rice's first score, this one from 5 yards out.
Christian Heritage, though, found its legs on a third-and-18 pass from senior quarterback Trevor Brown to Will Fisher that covered 72 yards. Four plays later Brown hooked up with Nich Bartley for a 19-yard touchdown.
Momentum stayed with the visitors after they forced a quick Darlington put, and Brown quickly moved the Lions to the 11, but on second down Will Mathis made the play of the game with an interception of Brown in the end zone.
"That interception was huge," Atha said. "Stopping that drive was the key, and we were able to go 80 yards after that and go back up by two scores."
Rice capped the 14-play drive with a 12-yard run midway through the second quarter, then broke the Lions' backs with a 23-yard run on third-and-20 to key another drive that ended with his 1-yard run and a 28-7 insurmountable lead.
Brown ended with 319 yards passing on 19 completions, with Fisher catching eight for 155 and Bartley eight for 118 and two scores.
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...