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Bulldogs clinch second with win over Tigers

FAYETTE – Led by junior quarterback De’Martre Collins’ three touchdown performance Friday night, the Franklin County Bulldogs defeated the Jefferson County Tigers 20-14 to clinch the No. 2 seed in Region 7-3A.

With the win, the Bulldogs will host the opening round of the Class 2A state playoffs and welcome the St. Andrews Saints to Meadville Friday night.

“This was a big win,” said Franklin County coach Anthony Hart. “It was important for us to win so that we could host the first round of the playoffs. Overall, I was pleased with my guys’ effort, they played hard until the very end.”.

Collins, the Bulldogs’ 5-9,160-pound speedster, scored on a 16-yard run with 11:05 remaining in the first quarter to give Franklin County an early lead at 7-0. Junior kicker Thomas Slagle finished the night 2-of-3 on the extra point kicks.

Collins’ second touchdown came in the first quarter as well as he connected with senior wide out Antonio Christmas for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 7:03 left.

In the second period, the Tigers’ offense managed to break through the Bulldogs’ defense to score their first touchdown of the game when quarterback James Claiborne hit junior tight end Jaqurious Blake on a seven-yard passing pattern for a touchdown with 4:19 remaining. The Tigers were successful on the two-point conversion as Claiborne ran it in.

With 1:22 left in the first half, Collins scored his last touchdown of the game on a 10-yard run to put the Bulldogs ahead 20-8 at halftime.

The score remained the same until the last play of the third quarter when Claiborne punched in a two-yard rushing touchdown when the horn sounded. Jefferson County elected to go for the two-point conversion again but was unsuccessful.

In the final period of action, Franklin County’s defense denied Jefferson County’s comeback attempt as Chris O’Quinn, Marquavis Dunn, Cameron Young, Ryan Johnson and Christmas made key plays and tackles to keep the Tigers from scoring.

For the final play of the fourth quarter, the Tigers had one last chance to steal away the win as they threw a pass to the endzone with four seconds left. But the Bulldogs’ sophomore cornerback Deion Buckles came up with a huge interception to secure the win.

Offensively, Collins completed 9-of-15 passes for 114 yards, one touchdown and a interception. He also rushed for 84 yards on 12 carries and scored two touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs.

FC running back Cortney Smith added 109 yards rushing on 32 carries. Xavier Green was the top receiver for the Bulldogs with three catches for 45 yards. Christmas caught two passes for 27 yards.

Claiborne directed the Tigers’ offense, throwing for a game-high 193 yards on 15-of-32 passes and two interceptions. He also rushed for 61 yards on 11 carries.

Defensively, O-Quinn and Dunn powered the Bulldogs with nine tackles each. Young and Johnson contributed eight stops each. Young also had a quarterback sack. Buckles finished with five tackles and had a interception. Keonte Bee also intercepted a pass.