Franklin beats King Philip 29-28 in Thanksgiving Classic, Earns Back to Back Kelly-Rex Titles

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Hunter Smith

Franklin won back-to-back Kelly-Rex titles in dramatic fashion on Thanksgiving day

Siddharth Chandra

 

WRENTHAM – In the 63rd installment of their annual Thanksgiving day game against King Philip Regional High School (KP), Franklin Football was down by one, 28-27, with just precious seconds remaining. The Panthers faced decision time: Do they go for the extra point to tie the game and, in all likelihood, send the game into overtime? Or, do they try a much riskier two point attempt for the win?

 

For Franklin Head Coach Eain Bain, the choice was a no-brainer.

 

Bain made an all-or-nothing call, sending his offense out for a two-point attempt to try and win the game in regulation. Journalists and fans were initially shocked by the call, the risk seeming too big to take.

But the gutsiness paid off: Player of the game Luke Davis (9 catches, 153 yards, 3 touchdowns) ran a quick out route and gave Franklin the lead (29-28) with just over a minute left in the game. Franklin played tight defense after the successful conversion, sealing a Panthers win.

The win earned Franklin back-to-back Kelly-Rex titles and Thanksgiving day wins. Franklin, who finishes the season at 7-3, will share the Kelly-Rex crown with Milford this year, earning their first back-to-back league titles since 1971 (where they won the Kelly-Rex three years in a row, 1969-1971).

The Panthers celebrated their hard-earned win back at home (Hunter Smith)

The game started off on a high note for Franklin as quarterback Jase Lyons hit Davis, who then scampered into the endzone for a 69 yard touchdown. King Philip was quick to respond and showed how they would play the game at their pace, starting with their very first drive. The Warriors relied on RBs Rudy Gately and Will Astorino to wear down the Franklin defense. King Philip marched 64 yards down the field to tie the game 7-7.

Franklin’s next drive was stopped by King Philip quickly; KP got the ball back and marched down the field for another score to put themselves up 14-7. The Warriors’ 1-2 punch at RB looked to be unstoppable as King Philip controlled the line of scrimmage for much of the game.

The Panthers knew they had to respond swiftly or the game was at risk of getting away from them. After a fumble recovery by Franklin’s Jack Nutter on KP’s side of the field, Lyons took advantage of the short field and hit Davis for a six yard touchdown in the back left corner of the endzone.

#6 Captain Luke Davis was unstoppable on Thanksgiving day (Siddharth Chandra)

The game would go into halftime tied at 14 a piece with KP receiving the 2nd half kickoff.

King Philip once again took advantage of their possession and rumbled down the field scoring off a two yard Astorino touchdown to put the Warriors up 21-14. It was Franklin’s turn to answer again: it initially looked like the Panthers would be able to tie the game once again. However, On third and long, Gately undercut Lyons’s pass and secured an interception for KP. With a solid runback, Gately gave himself and the offense a short field to work with.

Astorino would find the endzone a fourth time on a pass from King Philip Quarterback Tommy McLeish, who had limited action on the day. Now done 28-14, a crucial possession came for Franklin: If the Panthers were unable to score, King Philip could have easily put the game to bed by relying on their dominant running game.

But… that didn’t happen. Lyons continued his highly efficient day and stole the momentum of the game back for Franklin, hitting Davis for his third touchdown of the game as he went up and over a Warrior defender. Franklin cut the Warriors’ lead to 28-21 and put Franklin in a position to tie the game again with a defensive stop.

#6 Luke Davis goes up and over the defender for the TD (Siddharth Chandra)

An absolute rollercoaster, the game seemed to slip away from Franklin once more on the Warriors’ ensuing drive. KP’s running game was humming like a well oiled-engine; it looked like King Philip was going to put themselves up two scores again.

 

Then, it happened. One one of what seemed to be a million rushing attempts on the day for the Warriors, Franklin senior captain Emmett Lackey forced a huge fumble, leaving it on the ground for classmate┬áDevine Johnson to recover. The turnover gave the Panthers the ball with a chance to tie the game; Franklin’s bench and traveling fan section roared throughout the Macktaz Field bleachers.

On the ensuing drive, Lyons drove the Panthers down the field and ran for a 15 yard gain to the one yard line to put Franklin in a scoring position. Junior runningback Mike Davide then took a handoff and found a hole, lowering his shoulder for a one yard touchdown. The play by Davide brought our score to 28-27, still in favor of King Philip.

Bain would then make the aforementioned decision of the season, going for two instead of the extra point, sending the Panthers and their friends home happy to Thanksgiving dinner.

Thank you to Hunter Smith for some of the images in this article, go check him out on Instagram @smittvisuals!