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McGhee quarterbacks Bulldogs over Philadelphia in 3A playoffs

PHILADELPHIA – Franklin County quarterback Edward McGhee knewbefore the season he had some big shoes to fill as he replacedAll-State and Southern Miss signee Jamie Collins, a 3-year starter.McGhee, his teammates and coaches had confidence, so he respondedin championship fashion.

Surrounded by a solid running game and a physical, smash-mouthdefense, the Bulldogs ousted Philadelphia from the second round ofthe 3A State Playoffs Friday night 20-7. FCHS will travel to Mortonnext for a 3A quarterfinals showdown.

“We’re just a blue collar team,” said FC head coach TrentHammond, who in his second year at the helm is 22-5 overall. “Wejust line up and play. That’s basically it.”

The Bulldogs (10-3) used a full dose of running as Darnell Ford,Jermaine Stander, Milton Griffin, and McGhee sprinted left andright in the first half to keep Philadelphia (11-2) off balance.Both Griffin and Ford scored on 6-yard touchdown runs to give FC anearly 13-0 lead entering intermission.

“Darnell Ford and Milton Griffin did a good job running the balltonight,” added Hammond. “Our offensive line did a great jobopening up holes. We run, run, and run and see what happens.”

Ford, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound senior ran for a game-high 105yards on 24 carries. It was his third straight 100-yard game.Griffin finished with 9 carries for 77 yards. Stander had 17attempts for 60 yards. McGhee added four carries for 33 yards.

Philadelphia, led by All-State junior linebacker C.J. Johnson,an early 2011 Mississippi State commitment; made 16 tackles in thecontest. The Bulldogs’ aggressive running style gave McGhee time todissect the Tornados defense for a crafty fourth down touchdownpass of 28 yards to senior DeHendret Collins in the third quarter.FC kicker Coleman Graves added the PAT for a 20-0 lead.

The Tornados, coached by former Lumberton boss Teddy Dyess,answered the Bulldogs scoring pass play with one of their own, asLee Smith hit Tyriq Patrick in the final seconds of the third framefrom 21 yards out. The FCHS defense stopped Philadelphia fromadding more points in the fourth quarter with key hits and passdeflections that baffled the Tornados.

“They (Bulldogs) were what we thought they were,” said Dyessafter the game. “The one difference was that the two linebackerswere faster than what the film showed.”

Dyess was referring to FC senior headhunters LaDarrious Hunt andFrank Hunt who each had six tackles and a fumble recovery for theDawgs. They also added some added crowd-pleasing hits as well.

“We just come to play,” said Frank Hunt, a starring member ofthe Dawgs 2006 State Championship team. “We show up every Fridaynight ready to battle. It’s who we are.”

Franklin High’s defense held Philadelphia standout running backBrandon Willis to a season-low 50 yards on 18 carries. Willisentered the game with 1,951 yards rushing and 30 touchdowns. Smithpassed for 106 yards on 8-of-17 passing with one touchdown.

On defense, the Bulldogs forced Philadelphia into five turnovers(all fumbles). Brad Covington had five tackles and two sacks. TevinThomas and Alec Fleming each added five hits and recovered afumble. Bobby O’Quinn had four tackles and three quarterbackhurries.