Bulldogs strike early, but Rebels pull away for win

Bulldogs strike early, but Rebels pull away for win

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Bulldogs strike early, but Rebels pull away for win

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SMYRNA

The Franklin Rebels took advantage of big plays on special teams and opportunistic defense to down host Smyrna on homecoming night, 17-9, on Friday night.

Down 7-0 after the first quarter, Franklin (4-2) outscored Smyrna (1-5) 17-2 over the last three quarters to secure the victory.

Trailing 7-3 to begin the second half, the Rebels forced a fumble on the opening kickoff and linebacker Graham Warren raced 23 yards for a touchdown to put Franklin ahead 10-7.

“Defense and special teams carried us tonight,” Franklin coach Donnie Webb said. “We had a few lapses in there, but they have a lot of speed on that football team.”

After pinning Franklin deep in its own territory on its first possession of the second half, Smyrna cut the lead to one after a mishandled snap by Franklin quarterback Joe Critchlow sailed through the end zone to narrow Franklin’s lead to 10-9.

Both teams traded field punts and field position until Franklin executed a 45-yard drive and scored on an 11-yard pass from Critchlow to defensive lineman Zach Bacon to increase the Rebel lead to 17-9.

“I play offense on a few formations,” Bacon said. “We just called it. I knew I was going to be open, and I knew Joe was going to look for me and he delivered a good pass.”

Down 17-9, Smyrna mounted a drive inside Franklin territory with a little more than a minute to play, but Bulldog quarterback Matt Rodell was intercepted by Tony Flemister who returned the pass 45 yards to seal the victory for the Rebels.

Critchlow, only a sophomore, completed 14-19 passed for 158 yards and a touchdown to lead Franklin. The Rebels were their own worst enemies in the game, and 12 penalties for 100 yards stymied several drives.

“Offensively, the bottom line was penalties,” Webb admitted. “I’m very frustrated. We are going to fix that because that’s not disciplined.”

Rodell was 11-23 for 102 yards to lead Smyrna, but it was the Franklin defense that forced three turnovers, including the fourth-quarter interception, that was the difference.

Smyrna took an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter after Dallas Padget capped off a 54-yard drive on the Bulldogs’ second possession with a 3-yard touchdown run.

Franklin struggled to get things going in the first half, but ended the half with a 47-yard field goal by Joe Defatta after driving 42 yards in the last minute.

The Rebels’ leading rusher Colton Morrison did not dress for the game after reinjuring an ankle earlier in the week. Webb said he should return next week.

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