Bulldogs claim titanic win at Forest

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 15, 2004

FOREST — Like a scene from Remember the Titans, nearly1,000 Franklin County spectators braved the harsh elements and madethe three-hour drive to Forest Friday night to cheer on theirhometown Bulldogs from Meadville.

From pregame warm-ups to the final horn, the Franklin Countyfaithful clapped, cheered, and hugged one another with excitementand glee as the Bulldogs beat previously undefeated Forest 33-14 inthe quarterfinals of the Class 3A South state playoffs.

“This was the game we had to win to go on,” said Franklin Countysenior quarterback Jasper O’Quinn, an inspirational Bulldog leader.”We’ve got the best offensive line in the nation which allowed usto run right over them.”

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Over, through, and around them, O’Quinn was kryptonite for theBearcats. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound signal-caller made Forest’snight one to forget with 163 yards and two touchdowns on 21carries. He also made three tackles on defense as a coverageflashing safety.

“Everybody on our team stepped up, both our offensive anddefensive lines, linebackers, secondary and running backs,” addedO’Quinn. “Overall, this was a team effort in beating them(Forest).”

O’Quinn’s blocking crew included linemen Brandon Pedigo, AndrewWilliams, Jake Buckels, Emmanuel Muhammad and Kyle Tutor who keptthe lanes open and the holes wide for O’Quinn and company.Franklin’s running game amassed 373 yards on 58 total carries.

“We did a good job,” said Bulldog field general Anthony Hart.”My defensive back in Jonathan Brooks shut down their best playerin the No. 8 (Michael Townsend).

Brooks, a 5-8, 160-pound senior, used his speed and athleticjumping abilities to rattle Forest. He picked off a pass intendedfor Townsend to set up a six-yard scamper by Franklin County seniorrunning back Deandrea Cameron in the first quarter. On Forest’snext offensive possession, he delivered a spine- jarring hit toForest wingback Marcel Wash to dislodge the ball into his hands.Two minutes later O’Quinn scored from one-yard out to make it 12-0Franklin.

“We just came out and made the plays,” added Hart. “We also gotpressure on their quarterback, Keith Brown.”

Brown, a heralded junior, came into the game with impressivestats and eyes on setting a new state single-season touchdownrecord. He left battled and bruised.

“Putting pressure on him all night long helped us,” continuedHart. “We sort of took them out of their game plan.”

Trailing for the first time this season, Forest tried to counterFranklin’s offensive attack by stacking seven to eight men on theline. Once O’Quinn saw that, he was gone. The versatile O’Quinncountered with a quarterback keeper in the second quarter thatbroke the Bearcats’ backs from 86-yards out. O’Quinn shook andbowled over nine Forest defenders on the run with relative ease.His dazzling 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash separated him from therest of the team in mere seconds.

“I just did what I had to do,” continued O’Quinn.

With Franklin leading 19-0 during halftime, the Bearcatsattempted to install a new offensive scheme by running the ball inthe third quarter. It didn’t work.

The Bulldogs (11-1) silenced Forest’s new rushing attack withsacks and hits from juniors Casey Hammack and Marcus Tillman.Bulldog sophomore linebacker Gary Rogers gutted the middle withhelmet-popping authority.

After forcing the Bearcats (11-1) to punt on fourth down, theBulldogs began to tune their offensive running machine up againwith a three-yard touchdown plunge from junior fullback D.J. Shaw.After Dane Hodges added the extra point, the Bulldogs increasedtheir lead to 26-0.

“Franklin County’s got a great team,” said Forest head coachBrad Peterson. “Them putting pressure on our quarterback, and usturning the ball over hurt us.”

Peterson watched his junior-laden team score their firsttouchdown from 60-yards out on a Bard Ellis run. After Brown hitTownsend in the end zone for the two point conversion, Forest cutthe deficit to 26-8.

The Bearcats then attempted an onside kick, but Bulldog seniorup man DeAndre Davis caught the ball and rambled 12 yards beforefalling. The Bulldogs would later add another Shaw three-yard runfor a 33-8 lead.

Forest added the last score of the night at the 1:50 mark of thefourth quarter off a controversial five downs in a four downseries. Brown hit Townsend from 37-yards out, as several Forestfaithful headed for the gates.

“I would say after this one, that Franklin County is on theverge of winning their first state championship,” added Peterson.”They are a very good group that is well-coached and physical. Theycome ready each play.”

Franklin’s defense was highlighted by an 11-tackle night fromRogers. He also recovered a fumble and deflected a pass. Tillmanadded eight tackles, three sacks, two deflections, and fivequarterback hurries, while his younger brother, Bo Tillman, addedfive hits and a sack. Hammack and Davis finished with five hits anda deflection.

For the Bearcats, Townsend and Rod Dixon led with six tacklesapiece. Junior linebacker Herenzo Chambers added a fumble recoveryand five hits.

Offensively, Forest got 128 yards passing from Brown. He was 12of 25 through the air with one touchdown and one interception.

For the Dawgs, Cameron finished 113 yards rushing on 18 carries.Shaw gained 97 yards on 19 attempts.

Franklin hosts Tylertown next, beginning at 7 p.m. Friday nightin Louie Mullins Memorial Stadium. The Chiefs (11-1) beat Magee20-14 in overtime Friday night.