Lions declaw Wildcats 28-14

In 2012, the Franklin Lions Defense had no answer for Newton running back Kevin Shorter.  This season they will have to contain the passing duo of quarterback Dylan Gale and wide receiver James McCurdy of the White Oak Roughnecks. The two have clicked for more than 30 touchdowns the past two seasons and led the Roughnecks to consecutive playoff appearances for the first time since 1998.
This is a different Lions’ defense from 2012 and they have proven stout when the game was on the line.  They have a little more experience and a lot more depth. Only Austin St. Michaels has had any sustained success against the Franklin defense.  Will Phillips, Joe Riley, Jeb Hogan, Seth Kessinger, Dominic Witherspoon, Jacob Dorsett, Zack Short, and company has held every other opponent in check.  They will have to be on the top of their game to control a White Oak offense that has been on a rampage in the last 5 games. In their Regional Final Playoff game they scored 55 points against a Newton Eagles squad that had previously looked unbeatable.
The Lions on the other hand have started slowly in each of their 3 wins in the 1st half.  They have played almost flawless ball in the 2nd half of each game, scoring when necessary, and shutting out all 2 teams while limiting the other to a single score to win each time.  
Against Godley, the Lions led just 14-7 at the half but again rallied after halftime to put the Wildcats away, the same way they did Kirbyville last week and Maypearl the week before.
The Lions led early on a Morgan Brewer 5 yard touchdown run and a Dylan Smitherman 17 yard pass to Phillips. Godley would close to 14-7,but could get no closer when Smitherman ran it in from 1 yard out to make it 21-7.
Then, when Morgan Brewer swept right and sped through an opening created by the Lions offensive line, it was time to “turn out lights cause the party was over” as Don Meredith would say. His 77 yard touchdown run built the lead to 28-7 and the Lions never were threatened. Brewer would gain 205 yards on 24 carries and Adam Lopez would add 75 more on 20 carries.
The Franklin defense never wilted and only a harmless touchdown late closed the gap to the final 28-14. The Lions intercepted 4 passes and will need to play as sturdy in the secondary on Friday, against the Roughnecks passing game. Franklin’s ball control offense works best when the Lions can get out front early.  
They need to come out of the gate fast and not fall behind. As you know, White Oak is not, and I repeat is not, a team you want to fall behind, just ask Newton. That’s exactly what happened to the Eagles and they were beaten 55-36.  It will be up to the Lions defense and their ball control rushing attack to keep the Roughneck offense on the sidelines as much as possible. The opportunity is there for the taking and Franklin has put themselves in position to take advantage of it.
Come Friday night all the gloves come off and the winner will take it all.

Michael Cotton / Robertson County News

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