Franklin Co. Bulldogs ring McComb’s bell

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 10, 2007

MEADVILLE –For most of the game Grady McCluskey let hiscoaching hide the anguish he was feeling about misplacing his 2006Class 3A championship ring. A search of the sidelines brought noring, but in the end it surfaced in the FC ice cooler, afterFranklin County slammed the door shut on McComb 28-19 Friday nightin Louie Mullins Memorial Stadium.

“I’m glad I found it,” said McCluskey, “I was worried that Ilost it for good.”

Never in doubt the ring appeared and the Bulldogs did too infront of crowd of nearly 2,500. Franklin County used a display ofstars to subdue Class 4A force McComb.

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“We just stepped up,” said Bulldog defensive lineman Bo Tillman.”We made plays.”

Tillman, a 6-foot-6, 300-pound machine, gave the Tigers (1-1)fits the entire night. From hitting McComb running backs with abarrage of takedowns to forcing fumbles and rumbling some 40-yardswith them, he overpowered the Tigers.

“Bo can do what Bo wants to do,” said McCluskey after the game.”When he wants to play he isn’t going to get blocked.”

The same can be said about Tillman’s cousin, Aljoshua Tillman,too. The senior defensive end made 10 tackles and a sack. Bo hadeight tackles, which included four behind the line.

“Defense did a good job again,” added McCluskey. “We held a goodMcComb team to under 100-yards of rushing.”

When the Tillman and company weren’t stopping the Tigers,another family member was throwing darts at them. Quarterback JamieCollins (6-4, 210) threw for 122 yards on 6-of-13 passing to eludea dangerous McComb secondary.

“The quarterback (Collins) was the difference in the game,” saidMcComb coach Randy Martin. “He made some big plays with hisarm.”

The biggest play came two seconds before halftime, whereCollins’ rocket-arm unleashed a 50-yard strike to junior JarvisKing into the end zone. Franklin County took a 21-13 lead intointermission.

The Bulldogs (2-0) scored first in a first half that featuredseveral ups and downs. Alan Hunt put FC on the board with a 1-yardplunge, but McComb quickly answered back with a 80-yard return bysenior speedster Bobby Felder on the ensuring kickoff to tie thegame.

FC junior running back Alex Smith would add a second quartertouchdown from 9-yards out to give the Bulldogs another lead at14-7. McComb came back with a key 4th and long pass at the Bulldog21 as Tigers quarterback Anthony Daniels found a wide-open NathanKnox in the end zone to cut the deficit to one with 0:56 remainingin the half.

Collins quickly gathered the Bulldogs before the halftime hornsounded on a 3-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with his striketo King as the bell blew.

“We knew we needed a big play right before halftime, so we hadto go ahead and throw the deep ball,” said a sweat-soaked Collinsafter the game. “Jarvis got behind the corner and made thecatch.”

Jordan Hunt, the Bulldogs’ junior playmaker at linebacker andfullback, would put FCHS ahead 28-13 in the third period with a5-yard TD scamper. Junior kicker Jace Carlock, who was 4-for-4 onhis extra points, added to his ladder to give FC the 15-pointedge.

“Franklin County can beat most 4A or 5A football teams,”confessed McComb’s Martin after the game. “There defense isimpressive and offense too.”

McComb tried to mount one last rally in the fourth quarter asTigers tailback Mario Smith found the end zone from 5-yards out. Aconversion run by Daniels failed, leaving the Tigers two scoresdown with 5:27 left.

Franklin County’s mysterious defense would not surrender anymore points, as sophomore defensive tackle Bobby O’Quinn made asack and sophomore defensive back Darnell Ford grabbed aninterception to keep the Tigers at bay.

“We played some tough ball tonight,” said McCluskey. “Ouryounger players are stepping up. We had some sophomores in JacquesRogers and Darnell Ford make plays tonight. Bobby O’Quinn anothersophomore has been playing good too.”

Franklin County next plays at Charleston for a Class 3A showdownon Friday. Game time has been set for 7 p.m.