By Maurice Patton
Franklin controlled about 46 minutes of its season-opening matchup Friday with visiting crosstown rival Centennial. Unfortunately for the host Rebels, it’s a 48-minute affair, and the Cougars’ performance in the final two was the difference in a 28-24 upset. Centennial managed to score twice in the last 78 seconds – recovering an onside kick to set up Tre Stewart’s 43-yard gamewinning touchdown pass to Austin Waddell with just 10 ticks left on the clock. “It’s disappointing that we had our opportunities to put them away and we didn’t,” Franklin coach Donnie Webb said. “We let a team with some good athletes, that were better than us in space, hang around. They made the plays at the end.” Despite a 122-yard rushing effort by Mitch Rossi, the result marked the third consecutive loss in the series for Franklin. Rossi and Connor Palk each added a sack defensively, as the Rebels got pressure on Stewart for most of the night before he caught fire late. “Kudos to him down the stretch,” Webb said. “He really was struggling. “There’s so many things you question that you might have done differently, but for the most part, I think we’d have played the game the same. Just not focusing on little things that came up, cost us in the end. Not taking advantage of some Centennial miscues early, we left some points on the field, and us with some mental mistakes, blowing some assignments. But hat’s off to Centennial. They never quit.” JP Batarseh and Alex Gaca each caught a scoring pass for Franklin – Gaca a 53-yarder from Wes Patterson to put the Rebels on the scoreboard in the first quarter, Batarseh a 78-yarder from Carter Hendry in the third period to extend the margin to 17-7. Franklin rolled up 400-plus offensive yards in the loss. Next up for the Rebels is a Friday trip to Riverdale. Franklin pulled out a 34-20 homefield decision last season against the Warriors. “In the grand scheme of things, there’s still a lot of football to play,” Webb said. “They (Centennial) are going to win a lot of games, and I still believe we’ve got an opportunity to win a lot of games.”
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