The Franklin-Simpson Wildcats football team overcame a lot of adversity Friday to defeat the Allen County-Scottsville Patriots 17-7 for their first win in Region 1 District 2 play.
The Patriots (1-5, 0-2) remain winless in the district.
For Wildcats head coach Max Chaney, it’s his first win in his three seasons against the team’s district rival, and for Mathias Dickerson, it is his first game back since their Week 2 game at the Greenwood Gators.
“This feels great for everyone, especially the kids,” Chaney said. “We had a lot of starters out tonight. Very proud of the guys that stepped up and played their hearts out tonight. To get our first district win sets us up to go on a run and everything is still in our sight, our vision to get that district championship.”
“It was a blast to be back out there tonight,” Dickerson said.”It was great to be back with the guys again. Our first half was not great, so we went into the locker room and went over the game plan one more time. The coaches said that we need to get our blocks down better, and we did our job and we were victorious. The line did that and we were able to run the ball and my brother (Gavin Dickerson) was a beast tonight. He was a dog out there.”
The Patriots scored the first touchdown of the game. They took their drive that started in the first quarter and finished it off in the second as they drove 69 yards in six plays. Julyan McPeak’s 23-yard run set up Levi Cooper’s 1-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead that was maintained to halftime.
“Didn’t make many adjustments at halftime. I just thought the guys played harder,” Chaney said. “We had a halftime talk and our play calling got smaller and we stayed in the middle a lot. Coach (Matt) Marsh did a great job of keeping it all in the middle. We dinked and dunked outside some at times but took advantage of what they were giving us.”
Franklin-Simpson’s defense held and pinned Allen County-Scottsville’s offense deep in their own territory. With excellent field position, the Wildcats tied the game with a seven play, 35-yard drive as Gavin Dickerson ran for a 20-yard touchdown that tied the game at 7-7.
On its next offensive possession, Franklin-Simpson got big running plays from Gavin Dickerson, Isaac Callis and McPherson that put the Wildcats deep in the red zone. A penalty pushed them back, which forced them to use Atakis Allent to kick the go-ahead 31-yard field goal and Franklin-Simpson led for the first time 10-7.
“Really nervous about trying to make that kick. I just took a deep breath and went for it,” Allen said. “Great snap with a great hold by Brady (Delk) and the kick was a no-doubter. Just doing what needs to be done to win this game for us tonight.”
The Wildcats defense stopped the Patriots cold on fourth down with 5:01 left to play to take over possession. They faced a fourth down with three yards to go from their own 40-yard line. After a couple of timeouts, they went for it and executed the perfect play as McPherson took the pitch and was sprung loose thanks to a block from Allen for a 60-yard touchdown run for a 17-7 lead with 1:29 remaining.
“I was a little bit nervous on that play, but I trusted my teammates to get the blocks for me to get the first down,” McPherson said. “It turned out to be a touchdown as they executed the play well for me to get that. Gavin (Dickerson) ran the ball well up the middle all night long and they were looking to stop that. So it gave us an opportunity to run outside and make a play. The coaches trusted us. Everyone made some great blocks and Atakis made a great block on the outside for me to get the touchdown.”
“We believe in our guys. Every coach believed in them in getting those three yards,” Chaney said. “Coach Marsh had the play, and we had a number of options to do out of the formation, but we could see it in the kids’ eyes. It was now or never and we pulled our senior guard and put the ball in the hands of a freshman, but he has proven himself time and time again. We believed in them and that will pay dividends throughout the rest of the season.”
Franklin-Simpson forced the second Allen County-Scottsville turnover of the game as Hunter Jones intercepted his second pass of the game from Peyton Cope that ended the game.
The Wildcats out-gained the Patriots 282-175 yards. All Franklin-Simpson’s total yards of offense came via their ground game as Gavin Dickerson had a game high of 147 yards rushing on 20 carries for a touchdown and Blake McPherson had 14 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown.
“I was hungry out there tonight,” Gavin Dickerson said. “We had that next man up mentality. Had to step up tonight and make the best of it. Thanks to my offensive line, It was beautiful to run behind them especially in the second half tonight. This was a really big win for us. We lost four in a row to them. Had to end that, so now we are one up in the district.”
Franklin-Simpson hosts the Russell County Lakers on Friday night for Football Homecoming 2022 at James “Shadetree” Mathews Stadium at Hugh Crowdus Field. Kickoff time is at 7 p.m. with the Homecoming festivities starting at 6:30 p.m.