Special teams lead Franklin County to win

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

MEADVILLE &8212; It&8217;s amazing how special teams can influence the outcome of a game, especially in the playoffs. Such was the case during the Class 3A playoff game between Carthage and Franklin County.

Richie Long missed an extra point that would have given the Tigers a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. He had a chance to redeem himself when it mattered most &8212; late in the game with the season on the line.

Instead, Long missed a 40-yard field goal wide right with just 18 seconds remaining and the Franklin County Bulldogs survived some second-half miscues for a 14-13 win in the second round of the 3A South State playoffs Friday night.

Email newsletter signup

Jordan Hunt scored the game-tying touchdown on a 2-yard run with 8:52 left in the fourth quarter and Jace Carlock gave the Bulldogs the lead with the crucial extra point.

&8220;We dodged a bullet,&8221; Franklin County head coach Grady McCluskey said. &8220;We didn&8217;t play well. We fumbled the ball quite a bit. So I hope the kids realize this. It was a battle.&8221;

Franklin County fumbled the ball twice in the third quarter, one which led to a 33-yard touchdown pass from Zeerika Hall to Antonio Ricks with 11:29 left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs then fumbled the ball on the ensuing kickoff, but held the Tigers on that possession.

&8220;We had two fumbles in the third quarter and one in the fourth,&8221; McCluskey said. &8220;We gave them several opportunities and we can&8217;t continue to do that or we won&8217;t go far. Both of their scores were in the air.&8221;

What was even more amazing was that Franklin County ran the ball at will on the Carthage defense. The Bulldogs amassed 264 yards on the ground on 46 total carries. They outgained the Tigers by 100 total yards, but the turnovers almost cost the home team.

Carthage (9-3) took a 6-0 lead when Hall connected with Ricks on a 25-yard touchdown pass nearly midway through the first quarter. Ricks had 95 yards passing and was also intercepted twice, once by Gary Rogers, who also had 12 tackles, and once by Mike Hunt.

Franklin County took a 7-0 lead on Preston Griffith&8217;s 3-yard touchdown run and Carlock&8217;s extra point early in the second quarter. Griffith had another solid game with 141 yards on 24 carries.

&8220;We&8217;ll take a win,&8221; McCluskey said. &8220;They have a good football team. They should&8217;ve won the game.&8221;

Franklin County (11-1) and ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, will play at Collins, a 24-7 winner over Yazoo County, next Friday night at 7.