After opening the season against the likes of Hunterdon Central, Phillipsburg and Immaculata, the Franklin High School football team is used to competing against top-flight competition.
But the Warriors ran into an absolute juggernaut last night in Elizabeth, arguably the state’s top public school team. The Minutemen scored on all of their seven possessions, other than running out the clock at the end of the first half, in registering a 49-13 victory.
The contest started off as an offensive slugfest as the teams traded touchdowns off sustained drives that consumed all but the final 34 seconds of the first quarter. But only one team could maintain that pace.
Elizabeth (5-0) marched 65 yards in 13 plays on the opening drive with Kason Campbell finishing with a 2-yard sweep around the left side.
Franklin (2-3) came roaring back as Eddie Lee returning the ensuing kick 44 yards, putting Franklin just across midfield. The Warriors needed 10 plays to cover the remaining 49 yards, with Lee carrying seven times for 36 yards, ending with a 1-yard scoring burst off left tackle that evened the score at 7-7 with 34.2 seconds left in the quarter.
Elizabeth, which has scored 41 or more points in three of if its four games, scored on each of its next three drives before three holding penalties left it with a third-and-37 as the half ended.
The Minutemen’s third touchdown required a mere 5-yard drive as a bad snap on a Franklin punt deep in its own territory led to an intentional grounding flag that gave Elizabeth the ball at the 5.
Elizabeth quarterback P.J. Walker completed his first 14 passes and was 14 of 15 in the first half for 174 yards, including scoring tosses of 22 and 50 yards to Kyle Ward.
Franklin managed just one more first down in the opening half after its initial scoring drive.
But Franklin regained the momentum after the break, driving 74 yards in eight plays with quarterback I’zjaier Sanders hooking up with Sherrod Middleton for a 40-yard touchdown pass that narrowed the gap to 28-13 four minutes into the second half.
That momentum shift lasted all of 13 seconds, the time that Campbell needed to return the kick 91 yards for a touchdown that upped the margin back to 35-13.
Franklin would not score again.
Sanders had a decent evening, completing 15 of 28 passes for 168 yards, while Lee carried 22 times for 90 yards.
Respectable numbers for sure, but not enough to counteract Walker, who finished 16 of 18 for 201 yards, and Kyle Ward, who caught five of those passes for 120 yards and three scores.