The Franklin-Simpson Wildcats football team celebrated 2022 homecoming with a 49-13 victory over the Russell County Lakers on Friday night at James “Shadetree” Mathews Stadium at Hugh Crowdus Field.
The Wildcats are 2-0 in Class 3-A Region 1 District 2 and assured themselves of playing in the Class 4-A Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl Football Playoffs in November.
The Wildcats got off to a fast start as their defense forced a turnover on the first play of the game. Lakers quarterback Owen Loy fumbled and it was recovered by Franklin-Simpson. On the next play from Russell County’s 40-yard line, Mathias Dickerson pitched it to Brady Delk, who threw it 40 yards to Daniel Klingman for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
“Coach (Matt) Marsh said that if we had good field position that we might start out with a trick play,” Delk said. “He told me to be ready, so go loosen your arm up to throw a good pass. I trusted Klingman to catch it and it all worked out perfectly. Klingman had a great night on the right night.”
“Everything worked out really well,” Wildcats head coach Max Chaney said. “We had the ball where we wanted it. It was close enough to whether it was going to be an overthrow or a completion. But the guys did a great job of executing it. Brady threw the ball well and Klingman made a great catch.”
Russell County responded quickly on its ensuing drive. A 49-yard pass to Mayes Gosser from Loy led to his 13-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Leach. The extra point was missed and the Wildcats led 7-6.
Blake McPherson’s 40-yard run flipped the field position for Franklin-Simpson. Five plays later, Lane Alford ran for an eight-yard touchdown, making the score 13-6 after the extra point was missed.
The Wildcats defense forced Russell County to punt on its next possession. With great field position, Isaac Callis ran for 15 yards and Mathias Dickerson ran for a 20-yard gain. He called his own number on the next play as he ran for a five-yard touchdown. Alford converted the two-point conversion for a 21-6 lead toward the end of the first quarter.
Both teams had a couple of possessions in the second quarter. Franklin-Simpson’s defense forced another Lakers fumble as Gosser coughed it up and it was recovered by the Wildcats on their own 38-yard line. Following a penalty, Mathias Dickerson threw a 27-yard pass and run to Klingman, and a 34-yard run by McPherson set up a two-yard touchdown run by Gavin Dickerson for a 28-6 Wildcats lead at halftime.
The Wildcats took their opening possession 52 yards in eight plays to start the second half. Klingman caught his second touchdown pass of the game with a 29-yard strike from Mathias Dickerson for a 35-6 lead.
The Lakers answered with an 18-play 72 yard drive that took the remaining six and a half minutes of the quarter. The drive was riddled with unsportsmanlike conduct penalties by the Lakers, but Loy’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Trace Stringer that made the score 35-13 that ended the third quarter.
Franklin-Simpson scored on its next two possessions in the fourth quarter. On the first possession, they recovered the onside kick, which gave them great field position. McPherson’s 35-yard run set up Lane Alford’s one-yard touchdown run, his second of the game, that made the score 42-13.
The Wildcats defense forced a turnover on downs and the offense went to work again. Three plays after Mathias Dickerson’s 29-yard pass to Wade Humphrey, Klingman scored his third receiving touchdown of the game with a 10-yard pass from Dickerson that made the final score 49-13.
Franklin-Simpson out-gained Russell County 377-295 in total yards. Mathias Dickerson completed four of his five passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Klingman had four receptions for 106 yards and three TD’s.
“I was really hyped up for this game tonight. Really hyped up to play and I called my shot earlier today to you during the parade,” Klingman said. “It was a good night, but I can’t take all of the credit. The coaches prepared me for this all week. They put me in position, gave me the opportunities and all I did was take them. Got to give my brothers on the field some credit too. They were there for me all game long.”
Blake McPherson had 10 carries for 129 yards and Dickerson had five carries for 41 yards and a touchdown.
“This was a very nice win,” Dickerson said. “We had a good week of practice so we kind of expected to win like this tonight. We came out missing some assignments, but our coaches brought us all together and we went out and executed. Me and some of the guys, who aren’t going anywhere on fall break are going to come out here and put in work.”
The Wildcats are off this Friday for fall break and have the biggest game of the season Oct. 14 at Warren Central. The winner of the game will host their opening round game of the Class 4-A football playoffs. Kickoff time from Dragons Stadium at Joe Hood Field is at 7 p.m.
“Fall break came at the right time for us,” Chaney said. “We got some guys that are nicked up. Hayden (Satterly), Jalen (Briscoe) and Colin (Anderson) all haven’t played in a few games. Those are three guys that all play. Plus, we have some others that got banged up tonight. Hopefully we can get all these guys really healthy and back next week and be ready to go against Warren Central.”