Here is a report on Friday’s North Henderson-Franklin football game for correspondent Marlon Morgan:
FRANKLIN – Franklin entered Friday night’s homecoming game against North Henderson riding a 16-game winning streak in WNC Athletic 2A/3A Conference games.
After a 28-12 win over the Knights, Franklin looked like a team that doesn’t plan on losing a conference game anytime soon. The Panthers (6-2, 4-0 WNCAC) got another dominating defensive performance as they stymied North Henderson’s offense for most of the night. With three games remaining, Franklin is closing in on a third straight conference championship.
“It’s a credit to my kids and the coaches putting together a good game plan,” Franklin coach Josh Brooks said. “But the kids have just taken that to the field. It is a nice streak. Our kids take a lot of pride in being a champion and in this league, you’ve got to win just about every game. We’ve been able to do that and we’re not finished yet. We’ve got three weeks left in this league. We’re going to play week-by-week and get ready for East (Henderson).
“It’s something the kids will have a chance to look back on. These seniors have put together a streak that will be remembered for a long time. They’ve got something to look back on and be proud of.”
North Henderson’s two scoring plays came on a one-handed catch by Darren Lammons as he squeezed between two defenders and streaked 59 yards for a touchdown with 23 seconds left in the first half, and a one-yard run by quarterback Trevor Craft after a botched snap on a punt attempt by Franklin gave the Knights the ball at the Panthers’ one-yard line late in the third quarter.
Those two plays aside, it was a long night for the Knights’ offense. Franklin held them to just eight first downs and 170 total yards, just 37 of those coming on the ground. Craft completed 16-of-30 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown.
“Everybody was kind of frustrated and down on them a little bit after the Erwin game, but all they’ve done is go right back to work,” Brooks said. “They study their game plan. They take an energy and an effort to the field. They’ve been fun to watch. I feel like they’re playing with a little chip on their shoulder. They take pride in defending the end zone.”
Meanwhile, the Panthers ball-control offense ran for 248 yards, led by senior running back Kelton Lowry’s 95 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. Quarterback Jackson Perone ran for 49 yards and a touchdown and completed 6-of-8 passes for 86 yards.
Perone scored from 42 yards out on the game’s opening drive. Lowry’s touchdown came on the Panthers’ next possession following a North Henderson fumble as Franklin went up 14-0. North Henderson got a break in the second quarter when a poor punt gave the Knights possession at Franklin’s 30, but they were unable to capitalize.
Lammons’ touchdown grab late in the half came after a Franklin fumble, giving the Knights (5-3, 2-2 WNCAC) some much-needed momentum before the half. But the Panthers scored again on their first possession of the third quarter on an eight-yard run by Dillon Daves.
“I thought it was a good, hardfought football game for four quarters,” North Henderson coach J.D. Dinwiddie said. “They executed and they did what they do well.
“We didn’t execute very consistently on offense and I think that was the difference in the game. We dropped some balls. We missed some open receivers. A lot of that was attributed to them putting pressure on us and we didn’t handle it as well as I thought we should have. That’s what happens sometimes.”