Bombs Away in Attleboro: Franklin Football Escapes with a Narrow Win


Hunter Smith

The Franklin Panthers escaped Attleboro with a W in their closest game yet

Siddharth Chandra, Writer

What if I told you that Franklin’s game at Attleboro was their closest game of the year, by far. In fact, this was the first game that Franklin has won by only one score. The cherry on top of all this, Attleboro is the only team that Franklin has played this year that’s not seeded in the playoffs. With the Bombardier’s loss on Friday night, they were officially knocked out of the playoff race. So some may ask, why was this such a close game. 

To start, there is no such thing as an easy game in high school sports. Day in and day out every single football game that Franklin plays, both teams are going to put it all out on the field. This was an especially important game for the Bombardiers as if they lost against the Panthers, they would be officially knocked out of the playoffs. This also happened to be Attleboro’s senior night making it a night that Bombardier fans and players want to remember. 

Franklin Players with the “Beware of the Dogs” backplates (Hunter Smith)

It was a good start for Attleboro, as they were able to put together a methodical opening drive. They were able to chip away the yard with help from their RB Adrian Rivera and get into the Panther’s red zone. But as we’ve seen time and time again, Franklin was able to put a stop to Attleboro’s drive and force a 25-yard field goal. 3-0 Bombardiers. 

Both teams’ defenses forced quick 3 and outs and Franklin received that ball at about their 46-yard line. After 2 solid carries by Mack Gulla (RB), the Panthers were hungry for some points. Oh boy did they deliver some points with Jared Arone’s delivery and absolute beauty to the back right pylon to one of his favorite targets Will Tracey. Tracey wins the 50-50 ball putting Franklin up 7-3. 

This didn’t bother Attleboro’s kick returner, Aidan Pantages who showed off his speed darting down to the Attleboro 23. But once again the Panthers defensive unit terminated Attleboro’s drive and forced another field goal. This would be a common theme tonight, as the defense would have to come up big multiple times to help the Panthers win this game. Franklin kept their lead though, 7-6.

LB Nick Quintina on defense (Hunter Smith)

Franklin was able to answer as well putting together a coherent drive. They were able to use Gulla to get some needed yardage and got 2 chunk plays from rifles by Arone to Shane Kindred on the left sideline. Unlike Attleboro, Franklin was able to capitalize in the Red Zone off of a 3-yard Mack Gulla TD. With that Franklin extended their lead 14-6.

However Attleboro is going toe to toe with Franklin, showing that they can make big plays themselves. Anthony Salviati showed that he was a star on the team this drive catching a bomb from Matt Harvie to set up Attleboro in the red zone. The Bombardiers were able to get within 1 yard of a score but were pushed back by a holding penalty. Nonetheless, the Bombardiers made sure they scored on this drive, off a circus catch made by Salviati. After Jack Marino and Anthony Socci collided into each other going for the interception, the ball deflected off them down to the ground where Salviati “caught” the ball. But after a few Franklin fans went back in the broadcast to see what happened, Salviati appeared to have picked up the ball off of the ground, not actually catching the ball. Regardless, Attleboro was given the TD and it was back to a 1 point game, 14-13 Panthers. 

With right under a minute left in the 1st half Franklin was looking to give themselves a little more cushion than a 1 point lead. With good runs from Arone and Gulla and completion to Tracey, the offense looked like they were in business for some more points. Unfortunately, with 6 seconds left on the clock, Franklin decided to run another play instead of taking the field goal. Arone was unaware of the time and threw the ball away as time expired, leaving Franklin with no points on that drive. 

QB Jared Arone preparing for his game against Attleboro (Hunter Smith)

As this game moved into the 3rd quarter the tension was rising on either side of the field. Attleboro knew they had a good chance at winning this game, and boosting their chances of getting into the playoffs greatly. Franklin knew that if they lost this game, they would go tumbling down the rankings. The nerves clearly got to the Panthers, as 29 seconds into the 3rd quarter the snap sailed right over Arone’s head, and Attleboro defenders recovered the ball. Once again, the Panther’s defense holds up Attleboro, with a crucial sack from Jonathan Martins (TE/DE) on 3rd down. 

Arone and the offense knew they had to capitalize off of the defensive stop. They did exactly that, and guess who had the TD? Will Tracey again. Tracey beat 3 defenders right down the middle and Arone placed the ball perfectly off of play-action. This play helps to explain why Franklin is such a good team this year. They have the absolute workhorse of Gulla in the backfield, that single-handedly wear down defenses in the wrong scheme. Fine, you want to play the run, then you’ll be burned over the top by Tracey or Kindred. Jared Arone is also so good with his deep balls, making it almost impossible for DB’s to cover Tracey and Kindred down the field. This offense almost reminds me of what the Tennessee Titans wanted to be this year. 

Coach Bain watching his team carefully (Hunter Smith)

Attleboro answers right back and catches Franklin sleeping on the punt. Salvialti is able to 21 yards off of the play putting Attleboro right back into the game. They scored off of a Riviera 2-yard TD and put them within 2 of Franklin. The Bombardiers had to go for 2 to tie the game and keep their playoff hopes alive. Franklin’s defense came up big again, stifling Attleboro and maintaining their lead. Throughout the night Matt Harvie has been running for his life from Franklin’s defense line. This created a lot of plays that were blown up, and Attleboro failed to gain any yardage. It reminded me of Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl 55 and how he was always running for his life but Harvie handled the situation much better.

The 4th quarter was kind of anti-climatic, with each team failing to produce anything. All Franklin was hoping for was the clock to hit 0:00 and Attleboro wanted to put Salvialti in a place where he could make the game-winning field goal. Attleboro’s best chance was at the beginning of the 4th quarter where they motored through Franklin’s D. But as they got into the red zone, Rivera had a costly fumble with the Bombardiers losing the chance of taking the lead. Their prayers were answered 2 plays later with Gulla fumbling for the 3rd straight game. After that, Attleboro never really got near to scoring and Mack Gulla ran down the clock beautifully. It gave the game giving the game an almost………………unsatisfying ending. 


Shout out to Hunter Smith for the pictures, follow him on Instagram @huntersmithmedia