High School Football

Lightning strikes twice: Dutch Fork-Mallard Creek halted again by bad weather

‘I wanted to finish it’: Dutch Fork’s Tom Knotts recaps weather-canceled game

Dutch Fork High School football coach discusses the outcome (a tie) of the much anticipated game against Mallard Creek.
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Dutch Fork High School football coach discusses the outcome (a tie) of the much anticipated game against Mallard Creek.

Maybe Dutch Fork and Mallard Creek just aren’t supposed to finish a game.

In a highly anticipated match-up on ESPN2, the Silver Foxes and Mavericks ended in a 27-27 tie after play was halted with 4:46 remaining due to lightning in the area. It was after midnight when the decision came to cancel the remainder of the game.

“The administrators made the decision. It’s getting awful late and there was another lightning strike. It would have been at least 12:45 or 1 o’clock (before being able to resume),” Dutch Fork coach Tom Knotts said. “Yeah, I wanted to finish it.”

The teams were supposed to open the season last year in Charlotte, but it was canceled without ever starting due to severe weather.

Mother Nature was the ultimate winner again. They ended up with two official delays, one at the end of the first quarter that lasted two hours and finally the one that ended it.

When play finally ended, Mallard Creek was facing a third-and-14 from the Dutch Fork 15-yard line when it finally ended.

Even in that situation, Knotts felt good about his team’s chances.

“We felt like we had a little fresher legs,” he said. “Our backs were against the wall, but we went in and talked about how we were going to stop them and what we were going to do when they kicked the field goal and what we were going to do when we got it back.”

Even though there wasn’t a winner, the contest lived up to the hype. Dutch Fork came in as the top-ranked team in Class 5A and winners of the past three 5A state titles. Mallard Creek is preseason No. 1 in North Carolina’s Class 4A system and feature a load of Power Five recruits.

Neither team led by more than seven points and never flinched despite what the other team threw at them.

Ty Olenchuk threw for 295 yards and four touchdowns for the Silver Foxes. Three of the Clemson baseball commits scores went to Tennessee football commit Jalin Hyatt. They covered 16, 3 and 8 yards. The other TD was a 48-yard flea-flicker to Elijah Spencer in the first quarter.

When play resumed after the first delay, Mallard Creek used big plays to briefly take control. After a punt was downed at the Silver Foxes one-yard line, Trent Simpson, the Auburn commitment, made his presence felt when he bolted on an 82-yard touchdown run. Despite battling cramps and lingering leg injury, Simpson ran for 182 yards on 14 carries.

On the next Dutch Fork possession, a Silver Foxes fumble at midfield was scooped up by J’Trell Washington, who returned it 50 yards for the score to give the Mavericks a 20-14 lead with 4:48 remaining in the half.

Dutch Fork tied it at the half with a methodical 12-play, 77-yard drive that was capped when Hyatt hauled in an over-the-shoulder catch from the 3-yard line.

Dutch Fork scored on its opening possession of the third quarter on Hyatt’s third touchdown reception. Mallard Creek responded by switching from the spread into a wishbone attack, using a 15-play, 71-yard drive to tie it at 27 with 2:58 remaining in the third.

But even though they couldn’t finish, Knotts learned a lot about his team.

“I think we rose to the occasion,” Knotts said. “I was a little surprised by our defense and our third down defense and pass rush. Mallard Creek was massive. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a team with that many men on the field. T.L. Hanna was big, but they made T.L. Hanna look like a small team. We were game and hung in there. We did good stuff and we did some poor stuff, which is to be expected in the first game.”

MC 7 13 7 0 - 27

DF 14 6 7 0 - 27

First Quarter

DF - Hyatt 16 pass from Olenchuck (Newboult kick), 8:52

MC - Dixon 1 run (Howell kick), 3:33

DF - Spencer 48 pass from Olenchuk (Newboult kick), 0:46

Second Quarter

MC - Simpson 82 run (kick failed), 7:32

MC - Washington 50 fumble return, (Howell kick), 4:48

DF - Hyatt 3 pass from Olenchuk (kick failed), :07

Third quarter

DF - Hyatt 8 pass from Olenchuk (Newboult kick), 8:49

MC - Robinson 2 run (Howell kick), 2:58

Individual statistics

RUSHING - MC: Simpson 14-182; Robinson 4-24; Dixon 6-19; Noller 5-14. DF: Hall 14-48; Olenchuk 2-27; Hyatt 2-8.

PASSING: MC: Noller 15-24-0 137. DF: Olenchuk 23-36-0 295; Hyatt 0-1-0

RECEIVING: MC: Furman 4-48; Davis 4-40; Brown 2-26; Metcalf 2-17; Simpson 2-1; Robinson 1-5. DF: Spencer 7-124; Hall 6-75; Wikinson 4-37; Hyatt 4-33; Jacobs 2-26.

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