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Bulldogs batter N. Pike

MEADVILLE — Highlighted by a dominant defense and a strongoffense, the Franklin County Bulldogs roughed up the North PikeJaguars 33-7 Friday night in Louie Mullins Memorial Stadium.Franklin County clinched a playoff spot with the win, while NorthPike must now win out in order to make the playoffs.

“Pound for pound, they just ran the ball down our throats,” saidJaguars coach Adam Barron. “Franklin County’s a strong team.”

The Bulldogs (6-1, 3-0) used their power and speed to push NorthPike around a majority of the contest. Franklin County running backPreston Griffith finished the game with 126 yards rushing on 20carries. Griffith’s first quarter touchdown from six yards out setthe tone.

“Our offense played well in spots,” said Franklin County headcoach Grady McCluskey. “Our defense really played well.”

The Bulldogs’ powerful defense held North Pike to 69 yards oftotal offense. The Jaguars (3-4, 0-3) scored off a Nic Pittman 5yard run in the second frame to tie the game up after a JonathanBeckerson extra-point. North Pike’s scoring drive was set up by afumble on a punt return.

“We’ve got to stop turning the ball over,” said McCluskey. “Westill haven’t played a complete game yet.”

Franklin answered North Pike’s score with one of their own laterin the second, with a Jamie Collins one yard sneak to give theBulldogs a 14-7 lead after Jace Carlock added the PAT.

The Bulldogs made the score 20-7, with 1:01 remaining in thefirst half off a 37-yard connection from Collins to senior tightend Gary Rogers.

In the third period, Bulldog sophomore fullback Jordan Huntscored his fourth touchdown of the season from two yards out. Aftera failed two-point conversion, Franklin County led 26-7.

Sophomore running back Alex Smith would add the last score ofthe game, at the 5:33 mark of the fourth quarter from 4-yards outon a diving run.

“We still aren’t playing the kind of football I know we arepossible of playing,” adds McCluskey. “We’ve got to get betterquarterback play from a passing standpoint.”

Collins threw for 50 yards on 5-of-9 passing. He had oneinterception. Junior Lee Turner was 1-of-6 for 18 yards with apick.

Alex Smith finished with 65 yards rushing on 13 carries. Smithhad 137 all-purpose yards, as a tailback, receiver, and puntreturner.

For North Pike, T.J. Johnson led the Jags in the air with 50yards on 5-of-18 passing. He threw one interception.

Defensively, the Jags were led by JimmyRobinson with seven tackles.

For the Bulldogs, senior linebacker Brandon Collins led allhitters with nine tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery, and a passdeflection. Josh Tillman added six hits and two sacks, while GaryRogers finished with five tackles and an interception.

Franklin travels to Columbia next, while North Pike battlesWilkinson County Friday.