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Franklin Co. turns back Lawrence Co.

MEADVILLE — With his team needing a defensive stop, Gary Rogersproduced in the clutch. The Franklin County linebacker made hismark in the fourth quarter, stopping two Lawrence County scoringthreats with an interception and two key hits that kept the Cougarsat bay. The Bulldogs won 14-7, in a three-hour game that produced235 yards worth of penalties between the two clubs.

“We pulled together and won a tough one tonight,” said FranklinCounty head coach Grady McCluskey. “Our defense and offense got itgoing in the second half.”

The Bulldogs (2-0) watched Lawrence County take a 7-0 lead off anine-yard scamper from Brandon Middlebrook in the first quarter.Middlebrook’s score was set up by a botched punt return by theBulldogs.

“We played terrible in the first half,” added McCluskey. “Wecame out flat and couldn’t get anything going.”

Lawrence County (0-2) kept Franklin County scoreless for twoquarters, until Bulldog sophomore quarterback Jamie Collins hitjunior wideout Ryne Tutor from 7-yards out in the third quarter fora touchdown. The Cougars deflected the extra point attempt by JaceCarlock, to keep the lead at 7-6.

“My guys played there guts out tonight,” said Lawrence Countyheadmaster Mike Davis. “We never gave up.”

Franklin wouldn’t give up either.

Trailing by a point, the Bulldogs capped off a 6-play, 50-yarddrive with a Alex Smith 10-yard touchdown run, and 9:51 remainingin the fourth frame. Collins added the two-point conversion run offa keeper to give the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead.

“We never let up,” continued McCluskey. “These guys wouldn’t letit happen.”

Rogers and the Franklin High defense would add the finishingtouches as Lawrence County took to the air in hopes of tying thegame.

“Our defense stepped up and made things happen,” said Rogers.”We weren’t going to lose this one.”

The 6-foot, 245-pound Rogers caused havoc on the Cougars duringthe last nine minutes of the contest by catching a fourth downinterception at the Bulldog 35 with 2:40 to go and by stopping theCougars short of the end zone with only seconds remaining.

Lawrence County quarterback Ryan McCall intentionally spiked theball with 0:11 remaining on fourth down, although the sidelinemarker read third down. Both teams were out of timeouts at thetime.

“The down box had us at third down, but the officials had us atfourth down,” added Davis. “It was a tough way to end thegame.”

For the Cougars, Isiah Ferdinand led his team with 11 carriesfor 48 yards. Middlebrook finished with seven carries for 35 yardsand a score.

In the air, McCall was 7-of-13 for 52 yards. McKenzie Woods wasthe leading receiver with four catches for 26 yards.

Leading the Bulldogs offensively was Jamie Collins with 103yards passing. Collins was 5 of 12 with an interception. Tutor washis leading receiver with 46 yards on two catches. Mike Hunt addedtwo receptions for 25 yards.

Antonie Guice added three carries for 32 yards. Preston Griffithhad 58 yards on 18 carries. Smith finished with two carries for 11yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Rogers had 10 tackles and aninterception. Brandon Collins added eight tackles and a sack.Aljousha Tillman finished with seven tackles. Jordan Hunt had fivetackles, a sack, and two pass deflections.

Franklin County resumes play Friday at Prentiss, while LawrenceCounty hosts Magee. Both contests are slated to start at 7:00.