By: David Wells
All throughout the halls of Franklin High School this week, the anticipation for Friday night’s home matchup against McGavock made it feel like a homecoming game. And in a way, it was.
Because of a Week 0 bye and two straight road trips, it wasn’t until Franklin’s 28-7 victory over the visiting Raiders that the home crowd got to see what the Rebels could do.
“I know the whole week, there were banners throughout the school: ‘Come out to the first come game,” said senior Austin Winstead. “We even had big turnouts at away games. Clarksville Northeast, that’s almost an hour away. Dickson, an hour away. It just makes sense that there’s going to be a huge crowd.”
Winstead and the Franklin defense put on a show well worth the wait for the Franklin faithful that stuffed the stands.
The defensive back intercepted McGavock quarterback Dustin McAbee on three straight pass attempts, while the defensive line put pressure on him all night, sacking him six times.
Franklin’s defensive effort also set up the offense with short fields throughout the game, as well as quarterback Joe Critchlow’s three touchdown passes.
“Can’t say enough about the effort of our kids and keeping us in it and going and making plays,” Franklin head coach Donnie Webb said. “(The Raiders) were a hiccup away from scoring at any time.”q
In the first quarter, the Franklin offense took advantage of a short field after Andre Patrick shanked a punt, putting the Rebels on the Raiders’ 47-yard line.
Eight plays later, Critchlow tossed a 5-yard touchdown pass to receiver D.J. Burns to put the Rebels up 7-0 with 4:34 left in the first quarter.
That would be the only score of the half. Franklin’s defense sacked McAbee five times for 35 yards lost in the first 24 minutes of play, and the senior left with an apparent injury for part of the second quarter.
In the third quarter, a block-in-the-back penalty called back a 21-yard McAbee pass to Kyle Harrison, and Franklin took advantage. The Rebels sacked McAbee for the sixth time, forcing the Raiders to punt from their own 4.
After the punt, Franklin took over at the McGavock 44, and Critchlow threw a 33-yard pass to Garrison Mathews for a 14-0 lead with 4:31 left in the third.
McGavock scored on their drive with a McAbee pass to Josh Rohrer; however, Franklin’s Malik Grimes returned the ensuing kickoff 68 yards, and Franklin capitalized on another Critchlow pass to Mathews to make it 21-7.
Critchlow finished the game 7-of-16 for 87 yards, while running back Colton Black added 77 yards on the ground and a late touchdown. McAbee was 12-for-19 with 110 yards. The Raiders had 159 yards on the ground, using 10 different ball carriers.