Inside the Game: Darius Lipford

LENOIR, N.C. -- With the help of six turnovers – two created by Darius Lipford – Hibriten continued its undefeated season Monday night with a 42-6 rout of Hickory.

The game, which was postponed from Friday, was Hibriten's first in ten days, because it had a bye the week prior. Regardless, the Panthers didn't show any signs of rust, as they accumulated 314 yards rushing with 10 different players.

Role

In Hibriten's 3-5 defensive scheme, Lipford lined up at one of the "dog" positions (outside linebacker/safety), usually to the wide side. For the most part his job was to contain his side on run plays and cover the flat on pass plays.

Lipford also handled punting duties for Hibriten. However, because of how the game transpired, he only had one punt attempt.

Hibriten employs a run-heavy offense out of the flexbone formation. Lipford, though, only saw five offensive snaps – all at wide receiver. On all five plays a run was called and Lipford's job was to take the cornerback out of the play, which he achieved by blocking or running him down the field.

Lipford was also one of three kickoff returners and had a role on the kickoff unit.

Big Plays

On its first drive of the game, Hickory, which was attempting to answer Hibriten's game-opening touchdown drive, had reached the 19-yard line. Instead of sticking to what drove it 50 yards down the field - the run game - Hickory called a pass play for the first time.

After bumping the slotback when he entered the flat, Lipford bounced back out into the middle of his zone just in time to jump in front of the pass intended for the tight end.

"I kind of baited the quarterback – I baited like I didn't see the tight end," Lipford said. "As soon as he threw it, he had pressure on him and I picked it off and I just ran it from there."

After making the interception, Lipford looked ahead to see nothing but open field.

"Once I got past the quarterback, I knew to just turn on the speed burst and get into the end zone," Lipford said.

Lipford's second interception didn't have the exciting return, but it had just as much influence on the scoreboard.

Hickory, which at the time still had yet to score, opened the second half by driving down the field to the Hibriten four-yard line. The quarterback rolled out and attempted to hit his fullback, who was crossing through the end zone, with a pass. Instead, in tip drill fashion, Hibriten cornerback Michael Isbell deflected the ball right into Lipford's hands.

"Coach told me they'd run waggle pass and he told me to make sure I had the back coming out of the backfield," Lipford said. "Our corner, Michael Isbell, he did a good job of breaking it up. I was just in the right place at the right time and picked it off."

Although he admitted to considerating running the ball out of the end zone, Lipford did what his coaches had advised him to do and downed the ball.

Statistics

Defense: 11 tackles (8 solo), 2 interceptions (returned one 83 yards for a touchdown and another downed in the end zone for a touchback).
Punting 1 punt for 33 yards

Evaluation

The "dog" position (safety/outside linebacker) requires a player with tremendous athleticism, making Lipford the ideal fit. Overall, though, he looked much more comfortable dropping into coverage than attacking the run.

Going off his two interceptions alone, it's obvious that Lipford has tremendous ball skills and coverage ability. He only dropped into coverage a handful of times, but when he did, he displayed great range and seemed to see things better.

Most likely because of the opponent, Lipford headed into each play thinking run. But, as soon as he read pass, which he would do quickly, he would quickly drop into coverage. On pass plays, he was never caught out of position.

While in "traffic," Lipford often took the wrong path to the ball carrier. He definitely needs to work on his instincts and technique regarding navigating through traffic and warding off blocks. He didn't consistently use his hands in those situations.

In the open field, though, Lipford quickly converges on the ball carrier and is a reliable tackler.

Lipford is the type of player that could easily contribute immediately in college on special teams.

Overheard

Lipford says he's still committed to Duke, but admits it's a battle between the Blue Devils and ACC rival North Carolina.

He hopes to begin scheduling official visits soon. In the meantime, he will continue to take unofficial visits. He is considering visiting Duke Saturday for the Virginia Tech game. He's also considering attending the Virginia-Duke game on Oct. 31 in Charlottesville, as well as two games in Columbia: the South Carolina-Florida game on Nov. 14 and the Clemson-South Carolina game on Nov. 28.

Other Standouts

In addition to making the initial deflection on Lipford's second interception, Isbell, a junior, threw a beautiful 57-yard touchdown pass. When a quarterback drops back out of the flexbone, you don't expect much. However, Isbell placed the ball perfectly in the hands of Josh Dula, who was running a skinny post.

Isbell played most of the game on defense and spelled Hibriten's starting quarterback, Jamichael Walton, on several plays.

Speaking of Dula, he had a defensive performance that rivaled Lipford's. Dula, a senior, had two interceptions himself, as well as a double-digit tackle total.

Check back tomorrow for the full video reel of Lipford's performance.

Darius Lipford Profile


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