After falling behind, 20-0, to Franklin in the opening nine minutes, it didn't take Hereford long to make a game of it Friday night in a battle of Baltimore County powerhouses.
The Indians' early onslaught was swift and sure, beginning with a 62-yard touchdown run by senior Reggie Ellis with a fumble recovery after sophomore linebacker Kiandre Burrell's sack of Hereford senior quarterback Ryan Jones on the Bulls' first possession.
Franklin scored again on a 14-yard run by sophomore Maurice McFadden (10 carries, 83 yards) to cap a 50-yard drive in just four plays to take a 13-0 advantage.
Senior Marquis Ellis then returned an interception 35-yards for a third touchdown with 2:58 remaining in the first quarter.
Junior Brian Bray's conversion kick made the score 20-0 and a large contingent of Bulls' fans in Parkton uneasy.
However, resourceful Hereford fought back with a five-play, 58-yard drive finished on a 2-yard quarterback keeper Jones, whose 43-yard jaunt ignited the rally.
Jones, who yielded the sack/fumble and interception, nevertheless had a banner day running the ball (15 carries, 133 yards, three touchdowns) for the Bulls.
Senior Jay Patti's point-after sliced the lead to 20-7.
"For the most part, out offense played well," Jones said. "But Franklin made big plays that hurt us."
The Bulls' special teams also made a big play, blocking a punt that was scooped up and run 7 yards in for another score by junior Nick Salatino with 10:46 left in the second period.
Patti kicked a 22-yard field goal to trim the lead to 20-17 by halftime.
Franklin built a 10-point lead in the third quarter after senior quarterback Jackson Thornton connected with junior Taurus Bruton on a 36-yard pass until Jones countered with a 1-yard plunge early in the final period.
Then Thornton tossed a 37-yard strike to speedy freshman Steven Smothers for another score before Jones ran for his third touchdown with 6:04 to go to bring the Bulls within a field goal of sending the game into overtime.
“A lot of teams trailing by 20 points would have tucked their tails and cried to momma,” Hereford coach Steve Turnbaugh said. “We gave them 13 of their points, so I’d like to have seen what would have happened without those turnovers.”
Thornton (eight for 16, 204 yards, three touchdowns) made sure Hereford would not pull even or go ahead by finishing his night with a 59-yard throw to Marquis Ellis to complete the scoring.
"We knew they'd come back," Franklin coach Anthony Burgos said. "That's what they do. Coach Turnbaugh does a great job of getting his guys ready."
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