By Maurice Patton
Pending the outcome of their next contest, the Franklin Rebels took a big step toward setting up a Region 3-6A title game with their 42-35 homefield win Thursday over Wilson Central.
Improving to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in league play with their sixth consecutive victory, the Rebels need a win this weekend at McGavock to go into their Oct. 21 game at Mt. Juliet undefeated. The host Golden Bears, meanwhile, are the No. 2 team in the region at 6-2 (4-1) following their 45-0 win Thursday over Antioch. Mt. Juliet has an open date this week. “Our goal is to win this week and set up a championship game with us and Mt. Juliet,” Franklin coach Donnie Webb said after the shootout victory over Wilson Central (6-2, 3-2) – a game in which the Rebels never trailed, but never led comfortably, either.
“Wilson Central was better offensively than I gave them credit for,” Webb said. “I thought we’d get more pressure on the quarterback. I thought we’d take the running game away. We didn’t, and that’s what turned it into a shootout. I felt we’d score, but I thought we’d get more stops than we did.”
Indeed, Franklin scored 40-plus points for the third time in its last four games. However, the Rebels allowed a season high in points and the most they’d given up since their 28-24 loss to Centennial in the season opener. The Wildcats put up 470 offensive yards and rallied from a 21-7 first-quarter deficit behind running back Tyler Bowes (182 rushing yards, two touchdowns) and quarterback Blake Meadors (299 passing yards, three touchdowns). Meadors threw a 32-yard scoring pass to Bowes with 5:11 remaining to tie the game at 35-all.
Franklin QB Wes Patterson drove his team back downfield and scored on a 14-yard run with 24 seconds remaining for the gamewinner. “I can’t say enough about Wes,” Webb said. “He took too much of that playoff game (last year’s 21-20 second-round loss to Wilson Central) on his own shoulders. I was really proud for him to be able to have such a big game.” Patterson threw for 160 yards and three TDs – two to Alex Gaca, who finished with 118 receiving yards on seven catches, and a 50-yarder to Mitch Rossi to break a 28-28 halftime deadlock. Rossi rushed for 104 yards and a score.
As Franklin comes down the stretch and contemplates postseason play, Webb said the Wilson Central contest gives his team some things to work on. “We think offensively we can score some points, we can play with anybody,” he said. “Obviously we want to run the football, but we do have some threats on the outside. We think the better part of our football team is our offense. We want them to be on the field.
“I’m as happy as anybody (with the win), but when we turn the film on and it’s time to go back to work – we’ve got some problems. We’ve got to get better in coverage. In Class 6A, everybody’s in the playoffs. Everybody in the Memphis region (Region 4-6A) except one team is some sort of spread offense. We’re going to have to be able to go out and stop those type offenses. I’m glad we found it now. Some of it is schematic, but the rest is working on us and getting better. “We have some things to go back to the chalkboard on.”
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