Matt Colburn gave notice that he is healed from any lingering nicks and bruises he’s sustained. The Dutch Fork running back ran for 364 yards and six touchdowns to propel the Silver Foxes to a 56-28 victory against Fort Dorchester in the first round of the Class 4A, Division I playoffs.
The junior sensation scored on runs of 62, 6, 15, 14, 64 and 68 yards yards, the final three coming after the Patriots trimmed a huge first-half deficit to two scores in the third quarter.
The bruising running back has 1,861 yards and 32 touchdowns on the season.
“He is the heart and soul of our team,” Dutch Fork coach Tom Knotts said. “He runs like a little Tasmanian Devil, and when he goes, we go. I’ve said it all year. He’s a little bundle of energy when he runs. I’m proud of him coming back from these little injuries. The O-line did a pretty good job, too.”
The Silver Foxes advance to face Spring Valley next week at Harry Parone Stadium in the second round.
“I don’t know anything about (Spring Valley),” Knotts said. “They run the Georgia Tech-type offense and nobody likes to face that because they’re ball control. We’ll do the best we can and see what happens.”
A quick flurry by Colburn dashed the comeback hopes of the Patriots. Fort Dorchester (7-4) scored two touchdowns in a 52-second span to cut the Dutch Fork (9-3) lead to 35-21 with more thanover a quarter to play. Kobe Garrett, who finished with 264 yards passing and another 79 rushing, scored on a 14-yard run before Daniel Finely added a 21-yard interception return a few plays later to get the visitors within striking distance.
But Jo’mal Aiken returned the ensuing kickoff 66 yards to the Fort Dorchester 12-yard line and, two plays later, Colburn stiff-armed a defender on the edge for a 14-yard scoring run.
The Silver Foxes defense forced a turnover on downs the next series and this time it took Colburn two plays to cover 72 yards. He gained 8 yards on the first play then busted through the middle for a 64-yard scoring jaunt. He capped his night on the next Dutch Fork possession with a 68-yard run up the middle.
“We came out sloppy in the third quarter but someday we’re going to finish the game,” Knotts said. “Hopefully, it will be next Friday. We rebounded after a slow start in the third quarter.”
Fort Dorchester tried to slow Colburn, routinely putting eight defenders in the box, but that strategy backfired. Once Colburn broke past the line of scrimmage, it was a foot race to the end zone.
“That’s the reason I kept running it,” Knotts said. “They have to pick their poison. If they’re going to crowd it, they better be gap sound because if he breaks one, he’s going to go a long way.”
Colburn said, with his injuries piling up as the season wound down, he began to question himself. He can put all doubts aside.
“Everyone is banged up at this stage,” Colburn said. “I have a high level of confidence, but sometimes little things get me down. If I dwell on it, I start doubting myself. But it was back to basics and technique and doing what I know how to do.”
Fort Dorchester coach Steve LaPrad said he knew stopping Colburn would be a challenge.
“He’s a stud, but we knew that coming in,” LaPrad said. “They were more physical than us and much better than us.”
Colburn scored three touchdowns in the first half, when the Dutch Fork offense scored on its first five possessions and was stopped only by the second-quarter clock on the sixth drive. KJ Williams added a 15-yard run, and Derek Olenchuk connected with Deion Frasier for a 4-yard scoring toss to give the Silver Foxes a 35-8 lead at the break.
A gaggle of miscues by the Patriots helped Dutch Fork in the first half, as well. Lane Ecton blocked a punt to give the Silver Foxes the ball in Fort Dorchester territory. The Patriots later fumbled twice, once while driving for a score and another inside their 7-yard line to give the Dutch Fork a short field.
“We gave them some golden opportunities and they cashed in,” LaPrad said.
Overall, the Silver Foxes had 12 possessions and scored eight touchdowns. They finished with 567 yards of offense, with Colburn accounting for 406 yards.
“That was an impressive showing,” Knotts said.
DF – Matt Colburn 62 run (Tyler Bass kick) 10:52
DF – Colburn 6 run (Bass kick) 3:34
DF – KJ Williams 15 run (Bass kick) 10:14
FD – Rashad Palmer 28 pass from Kobe Garrett (Corey Rawlings run) 7:36
DF – Colburn 15 run (Bass kick) 3:47
DF – Deion Frasier 4 pass from Derek Olenchuk (Bass kick) 2:11
FD – Garrett 14 run (kick blocked) 3:03
FD – Daniel Finley 21 interception return (Corey Rawlings kick) 2:11
DF – Colburn 14 run (Bass kick) 1:16
DF – Colburn 64 run (Bass kick) 11:04
DF – Colburn 68 run (Bass kick) 5:17
FD – Garrett 5 run (Rawlings kick) 2:41