FC makes key plays

Published 12:54 am Saturday, September 24, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Franklin County’s Fred Coleman gets past Lawrence County’s Demarcus Bridges, center, during their game Friday night at Franklin County. The Bulldogs won 20-18.

Meadville — Lawrence County was on Franklin County’s 48-yard line and driving with just under two minutes to play Friday night, and it needed just a field goal to take a one-point lead.

But when Lawrence County quarterback LaQuan Hilliard dropped back to pass on a second- down-and-9 play, Franklin County’s Terance Anderson and Clarence O’Quinn converged on him in the backfield. Anderson sacked Hilliard and jarred the ball loose, and O’Quinn recovered the fumble to secure a 20-18 win for the Bulldogs.

It was the second time in the game the Bulldogs’ defense stiffened in a crucial situation to preserve the win.

Lawrence County scored a touchdown with 7:34 left in the game and needed a two-point conversion to tie. But the Bulldogs’ defense held on the try to prevent the tie.

“(Those plays) were big,” Bulldogs’ head coach Rickey O’Quinn said. “They made a play when it counted. They had a rough evening giving up third down conversions, so stopping them on the two-point conversion was big.”

The two teams traded scores the entire game, and Lawrence County’s inability to convert on two two-point conversions and one extra point made the difference.

“It was a nail-biter,” O’Quinn said. “We are happy to get a win. Lawrence County played really hard, and they played great, especially offensively. We left a couple of touchdowns on the board. It was a close ball game, and luckily we won. Winning close games is big for us.”

Franklin County opened the scoring in the second quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run by Fred Coleman. Matt Brasher added the extra point. Coleman finished his night with 57 yards rushing and 99 yards receiving with three touchdowns.

“It felt great (to have a big game),” Coleman said. “Big players make big plays. They thought we were going to run it and stacked the box, and we made big plays.”

Lawrence County answered with under a minute left in the half on a 9-yard run by Will Turnage. Franklin County blocked the extra point, and the Bulldogs led 7-6.

Franklin County attempted to score before the half, but penalties and incomplete passes forced them to punt.

Instead of taking a knee, Lawrence County decided to try to run the ball with running back Alexander Montgomery from its own 27-yard line, but the Franklin County defense was able to force Montgomery to fumble, and Jalen Washington recovered for the Bulldogs and returned it 18 yards.

Two plays later, Franklin County quarterback Jadarius Davis found Coleman on a 22-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was blocked, and Franklin County took a 13-6 lead into the half.

Lawrence County came out in the second half and scored on its first possession on a 15-yard touchdown run by Hilliard. The Cougars’ two-point conversion failed, and Franklin County maintained a one-point lead.

Franklin County answered less than two minutes later when Davis connected with Coleman again, this time for 77 yards. Brasher made the extra point, and Franklin County led 20-12.

The Cougars would score midway through the fourth quarter on a 17-yard Hilliard run, but the Bulldogs’ defensive stop on the two-point try was the difference.

O’Quinn said winning Friday night’s close game will help his team in the future.

“It’s a great learning experience, a building block,” he said. “To be able to play close and hang on to the lead is great. It’s great to be 4-2.”

Running back Chris Robinson was the work horse for the Bulldogs Friday night. He carried the ball 22 times for 123 yards.

The Bulldogs out-gained Lawrence County 286 to 200, which was largely a result of the two long pass plays for Franklin County. Franklin County (4-2) will start Region 7-3A play next week when it travels to Woodville to play Wilkinson County.