Franklin Co. clips Ole Brook Panthers in OT

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 28, 2006

In overtime, Alex Smith produced the most important run of hisyoung varsity career Friday night on King Field. The FranklinCounty sophomore scored the winning 2-point conversion on aspinning, tackle-breaking plunge, lifting the Bulldogs to athrilling 35-34 win over Brookhaven’s Panthers.

“I just knew I had to get it in there,” said Smith, a 5-foot-11,170-pound sophomore. In the first quarter, Smith had streaked 84yards to paydirt, giving the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead.

Encouraged by a large, partisan crowd, the Panthers overcamebreakdowns on defense to tie the game at 27-27 on Charles Wilson’s1-yard run and Will Thibodeaux’s PAT kick with 7:43 left in thegame.

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In overtime, the Panthers went on offense first. Facing a fourthdown just inches shy of the goal line, Ole Brook head coach TuckerPeavey called a timeout to plot the final play. Wilson scored overleft tackle, Thibodeaux converted the PAT and the hosts led34-27.

On first down, Franklin County sophomore quarterback JamieCollins completed his only pass of the game, lofting a floater towide receiver Ryne Tutor who gathered it in for the 10-yard TD.

“I’m just a sophomore,” said Collins with a grin. “Tutor is myman, my connection. I believe in him.”

Franklin County head coach Grady McCluskey received a surpriseice-water shower at midfield after the game, plus a kiss from hiswife and their young son.

After the TD pass in overtime, McCluskey had called a timeoutand huddled with his offense. They had a good kicker in JaceCarlock but McCluskey didn’t want another OT.

“I said, ‘Shoot, go for it.’ We were tired out. We had severalplayers going both ways.

“Luckily, he (Smith) bounced off a tackle and went in.”

In the 2006 season opener, Franklin County used big plays todominate Brookhaven in the early going. The Bulldogs held a 27-13lead when Preston Griffith plunged 1 yard for a third-quarter TD.They were outrunning the Panthers on the corners.

“It was a whale of a game, one of the best I’ve been in, ” saidMcCluskey who is 2-0 in games against the Panthers. “Brookhaven hasa good team.”

McCluskey’s Bulldogs accounted for over 400 yards total offense.Smith had 158 yards on 9 carries. Antoine Guice rushed for 113yards and 1 TD, including a 52-yard scoring dash.

“Defensively, we gave up too many big plays,” said Peavey.”Offensively, we didn’t score when we needed to. We got field goalswhen we needed touchdowns.

“We played hard but we need to play smarter,” Peavey continued.”Their (Bulldogs) big plays in the running game is what gotus.”

In the first quarter, Guice went 52 yards and Smith raced 84yards for touchdowns. The Panthers got their first TD of the seasonin the second quarter on a 33-yard, fourth-down pass from Ranciferto Simmie Yarborough. Thibodeaux kicked first half field goals of21 and 30 yards, the second 3-pointer reducing Brook’s deficit to14-13.

Griffith broke loose on a 61-yard jaunt in the second quarterand put the Dawgs up 21-13. It was 27-13 on Griffith’s 1-yardplunge, capping a 7-play, 67-yard march with the third quarterkickoff.

Wilson sat out the first half as a disciplinary measure. He wasthe team’s leading rusher last season.

On Brook’s second possession of the third quarter, the Pantherswent 45 yards in 3 plays, aided by a personal foul penalty.Rancifer faked a handoff to Wilson and sprinted 13 yards for theTD, making it 27-20.

“It was a hard-fought, physical game,” said Rancifer. “I thoughtwe had it won at the end.”

With 7:43 left in regulation, Wilson dove over left tackle andThibodeaux tacked on the PAT, gaining a 27-27 deadlock.

The Bulldogs had a chance to regain the lead late in the game.Collins scrambled for a first down at Brook’s 10-yard line. After 3plays gained four yards, they had to settle for a 23-yard fieldgoal attempt by Carlock. The ball hit the left upright and glancedoff with 2:43 left to play.

Linebacker Gary Rogers led the FC defense with 14 tackles.Brandon Collins had 7 tackles and a sack. Greg Hunt intercepted apass.