FOOTBALL: Franklin pulls away from Taunton in the second half, winning 35-14


FHS Smug mug

Panthers circle up pre-game vs. Taunton. The win against the Tigers saw Franklin move to 4-1 on the season (via FHS Smug mug)

Ryan Martin, Editor

The following is an adapted article that I personally wrote for New England Football Journal.

TAUNTON- After last week’s loss to King Philip, Taunton was looking to put themselves back in the win column for the inaugural game at Aleixo Tiger Stadium on Friday, October 7th.

Unfortunately for the hosts, Franklin came into town and acted like they were the ones cutting the ribbon. The Panthers seemed to be in control throughout the game and cruised to a 35-14 win.

Taunton, who had played their first two “home games” at Mansfield High, came out lighting up the Franklin defense following a bright pre-game display.

On the second play of the game, Taunton QB Jacob Leonard hit WR Braden Mullen on a deep fade down the left sideline. The connection between the classmates was good for 59 yards, and set up Malachi Johnson to punch in a handoff for a nine yard touchdown. The lights at Alexio Tiger Stadium went into a frenzy once more. With the score 7-0, Franklin was seeing flashbacks to the 51 yard TD scored on North’s first possession last week.

I feel like it’s every game for us unfortunately, but we’ve played some explosive teams… Taunton’s done that to every opponent they’ve played it seems like. They come with the threat of the big play, and I think that’s kind of how football is played now.” Franklin head coach Eian Bain said.

Franklin quickly answered, with Panthers QB Jase Lyons slinging it all over the yard. Lyons, who finished with four total touchdowns on the night, spread the wealth from the start by hitting Luke Davis for 33 yards and Grayson Hunter for 23 before finding Derek Dubriske in the end zone for a 12 yard score. After the game, Lyons described the value of having such a dependable WR core.

I think our receiving core is one of the best in the state. I can rely on any of them – whenever they’re open, I get them the ball and trust them to make plays.”

A goal line carry by Bryan Batista resulted in another seven for Taunton to make it 14-7 heading to the second.

FHS Sr. Captain Luke Davis scampers for a 61 yard score. The BU Lax Commit, who finished with 3 TDs on the day, now has nine touchdowns to his name this year (via FHS Smug mug)

The Panthers matched the Tigers offensive attack again, with Lyons this time finding Davis on a 25 yard fade in single coverage. Davis would finish the game with three trips to the end zone. Davis now has nine touchdowns to his name this season.

Davis has done it for us time and time again. He’s one of the best athletes we’ve had the privilege of coaching… He just seems to always find a way to the end zone,” said Bain.

Davis’ first touchdown would prove to be the only second quarter points; a Franklin field goal attempt as time expired was blocked by Malachi Johnson to leave the score at 14-14. Johnson, a senior for Taunton head coach Brad Sidwell, was all over the field in this one, contributing in all three phases of the game.

On the first possession of the second half, Taunton allowed the game’s most impressive play. Davis caught a ten yard hitch from Lyons on a third and 15, broke a tackle for a first down, and broke two more on his way for a 61 yard score to make it 21-7.

After calling the first quarter “a good back and forth”, Sidwell, the former Franklin football head coach and Athletic Director (who even got to coach against his sons in this one), noticed how his team had a hard time stopping Franklin amidst the first half field goal block.

The biggest thing [defensively] was that we couldn’t get off the field on third downs. They did a nice job executing all that stuff… the block was big, too, but we just got to come out and have some more momentum and be able to attack what they were doing.”

FHS’ “Rattle City” showing their support of the Panthers on the road. Franklin will have a bye week on Friday but will be back in action hosting Attleboro on the 21st (via FHS Smug mug)

As Taunton started to crack, the Panthers’ defense grew stronger. 45 seconds after Davis’ touchdown, Franklin’s Nick Quintina picked off Jacob Leonard on a play-action pass intended for the middle of the field.

Once we had a two-score lead, then there was a lot of pressure because it felt like neither of us were going to stop each other. Anytime you can take the ball away, it’s great.”

Franklin capped the scoring with two fourth quarter scores, a 13-yard keeper from Lyons came before the cherry on top: a 30 yard pick six from Davis.

Bain, who was hired by Sidwell during the coach’s time as Franklin’s Athletic Director, ended the night with admiration for his predecessor.

Being a competitor, it’s cool because there’s not really anybody I respect more… I can’t say enough great things about Coach Sidwell and how very grateful I am that he trusts me to coach his kids.”