The Franklin-Simpson Wildcats' football team lost their lead late in the fourth quarter as Meade County escaped with a 26-21 victory that handed the Wildcats their second loss in a row. Under head coach Doug Preston, Franklin-Simpson hasn't lost two games in a row since the 2013 season when they lost their first two games of that season to the Danviille Admirals and the Graves County and the Graves County Eagles.
"We played well enough to win and from watching the film, it's so devastating to fall at the end when we finally came to the point where we were in control of our destiny," Preston. "Our kids made a lot of improvements in a lot of areas and made some major progress. We had some turnovers but that's kind of where we are at."
"We always seem to have these games with Franklin-Simpson. Coach Preston does an outstanding job and the community loves this team," Green Wave head coach Larry Mofield said. "I told our kids that this is a big win for us because they are going to win a lot of football and be in the mix for another championship. But is a big win for our program and a great way to start our season."
In the 1st Quarter on their opening possession, the Wildcats methodically used an 18-play drive for 71 yards. Senior Leandre Stutzman had 38 yards rushing on six carries and sophomore quarterback, Luke Richardson had three carries for 23 yards including a 1-yard touchdown run that finished off the drive. Junior Cole Hollingsworth kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
The Green Wave responded with a touchdown drive that started in the 1st and ended in the 2nd Quarter. Junior Austin Opple had 51 yards rushing on three carries including a 16-yard touchdown run. The 2-point conversion failed as Franklin-Simpson still had the lead, 7-6.
In the 3rd Quarter, both teams created turnovers as senior Tedric Partinger intercepted Senior Cason Brady's pass at midfield Two plays later, Senior Mason Burnett intercepted Richardson's pass and returned it to the Wildcats' 4-yard line. Three plays later, Brady ran for a 1-yard touchdown. Oppel threw a 2-yard pass to senior Mitchell Dozier in the end zone for the 2-point conversion for the 14-7 lead for Meade County.
Franklin-Simpson tied and regained the lead on their next two possessions. They tied the game with a nine play, 71-yard drive with Stutzman finishing off the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run. Hollingsworth's extra point tied the game at 14-14. On their ensuing possession, which started in the 3rd and culminated in the 4th Quarter. Five play, 53-yard drive that was highlighted by a 35-yard catch and run to the Meade County 1-yard line. Junior Malik Carter followed with a 1-yard touchdown run and with Hollingsworth's extra point, the Wildcats regained the lead, 21-14.
The Green Wave rallied as on their ensuing possession, they were aided by two costly penalties by the Wildcats, they drove 85 yards in 13 plays. Oppel ran for his second touchdown of the game with an 8-yard run. Their 2-point conversion failed as the Wildcats cling to their one-point lead, 21-20.
For the second time in the game, Meade County's defense took advantage of a turnover as a fumble was returned by junior J.T. Godsey to the Wildcats; 10-yard line. On the very next play, Oppel ran for a 10-yard touchdown, his third of the game. Their 2-point conversion was unsuccessful but the Green Wave took the lead 26-21.
Franklin-Simpson had one last chance to win the game. They started from their own 19-yard line and managed to get a first down but could not move the ball any further as Meade County with two late 4th Quarter touchdowns to come away with the 26-21 victory.
"I'm visualizing three weeks down the road when we start playing district and this team can be a really, really good football team and will be." Preston said. "If it weren't for a couple of turnovers and made a couple of plays, we would be 2-0 and not 0-2. I'm not happy about being 0-2 but we the coaching staff are going to keep battling for them and work hard."
The Wildcats outgained the Green Wave 300-222 in total yards of offense. Leandre Stutzman gained 91 yards rushing on 17 carries for a touchdown. Luke Richardson had 14 carries for 62 yards for a touchdown. Richardson also completed sox of his 14 passes for 88 yards with an interception. Stutzman had two receptions for 39 yards and Brandon Fished had a 22-yard reception.
Austin Oppel had a game high of 121 yards for three touchdowns on 17 carries. Cason Brady had 13 carries for 25 yards for a touchdown. Brady completed eight of his 15 passes for 80 yards with an interception. Oppel had three receptions for 39 yards and mason Burnett had two receptions for 31 yards.
"Austin (Oppel) can make plays and we have gone to a spread look this season. We switched because the spread created more seams and lanes to run. We ran the ball well and threw it pretty well. Other than some blitzes that our line did not see, I thought up front we played pretty well," Mofield said. "On the other side, we have played some pretty good defense and our record doesn't reflect that but the one thing we didn't do is create turnovers. Tonight, we got two key turnovers and it gave our offense a short field and some momentum."
MC 0 6 8 12 26
F-S 7 0 7 7 21
F-S Luke Richardson 1 yard run (Cole Hollingsworth kick) 7-0
MC Austin Oppel 16 yard run (2-point conversion failed) 7-6
MC Cason Brady 1 yard run (Oppel pass to Dozier) 14-7
F-S Leandre Stutzman 11 yard run (Hollingsworth kick) 14-14
F-S Malik Carter 1 yard run (Hollingsworth kick) 21-14
MC Oppel 8 yard run (2-point conversion failed) 21-20
MC Oppel 10 yard run (2-point conversion failed) 26-21