By Maurice Patton
Any possibility of Franklin looking past McGavock to a potential Region 3-6A ‘championship game’ the following weekend was laid to rest about as decisively as the host Raiders were Friday night.
The visiting Rebels grabbed a two-touchdown lead less than five minutes into an eventual 48-21 victory, one in which Franklin scored all its points in the opening two quarters. “I’m proud we came out, especially offensively, and did some things well from the get-go,” Rebels coach Donnie Webb said after his team went to 7-1 (5-0). “In the second half, when we were playing a lot of young kids, I thought we were looking at the clock to see how quickly we could get back to Franklin. “I told these guys since the beginning of the year we were going to be a team that would be part of the region (title) talk. We knew once we won that game, a region championship game was going to be right around the corner.”
Wes Patterson’s 22-yard pass to Gentry Neese put the Rebels up 7-0 at the 9:05 mark of the first period, and Mitch Rossi’s 22-yard run doubled that margin with 7:01 to go in the quarter. After the Raiders’ Cornelius Smith took the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a score, Patterson and Max Page hooked up for an 18-yard touchdown with 4½ minutes remaining. Carter Hendry broke a 54-yard run to paydirt on the next possession, and Patterson scored from 13 yards out with one second left in the quarter to make it a 34-7 game.
“Two of our first three touchdowns were passes,” Webb said. “McGavock, right off the bat their game plan was to try to bring pressure to stop our option. They were determined to take away the inside option, and that opened up the passing game. “From there, things balanced back out to where Rossi was able to get going.” Rossi finished with 143 rushing yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, leading a ground attack that accounted for 298 of Franklin’s 426 yards. Collin Saulters added a rushing TD and Alex Gaca caught a 54-yard scoring pass from Hendry to push the lead to 48-7 by halftime. “I didn’t think our practices (prior to the game) were going that well,” Webb said. “I think (our performance) was a factor of having 24 seniors, and many of them key players in our game plan weekly.”
With McGavock (1-7, 1-4) in the rearview mirror, Webb and the Rebels turned their attention to their upcoming matchup with Mt. Juliet. The Golden Bears dropped back-to-back games at home against Cane Ridge and region foe Ravenwood in a 1-2 start, but have since run off five straight wins – four in league play. The method in which Mt. Juliet has managed its success looks familiar to Webb. “Even in our one loss, I’ve felt like all year we’ve been the more physical team, that our offensive and defensive fronts have controlled the line of scrimmage for the most part,” he said. “The first thing that jumps out, seeing Mt. Juliet live and turning on the film, is that they’re doing the same thing, trying to be physical and come off the ball and block people. “I’m really impressed with their offensive line. In all our games, even against Wilson Central, our offensive line — it may take them a bit, but as the game goes on, I feel they’ve worn people down. Where I think that’s been our ‘M.O.’, we’re going to be challenged from that aspect.”
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