Aberdeen overcame a first half deficit to visiting Franklin Friday night to advance in Class 3A North regional football play. The Eagles (9-2) trailed 14-13 at halftime but rallied to win, 32-20, earning a berth in Friday's region championship game.
The Eagles will play at North Harford, a 36-6 winner over Digital Harbor, Friday at 7 p.m. The winner heads to the state semifinals. North Harford won 38-12 at Aberdeen in week five.
Two big plays by Franklin (7-4) led to the Indians first score. Quarterback Jackson Thornton threw a 45-yard bomb for a score to Marquis Ellis out of desperation on fourth and 20.
Franklin added the extra point for a 7-0 lead, but Aberdeen battled back with its first score, also via pass, to Christian Carpenter, who caught a 15-yard touchdown strike from Kenny Faulcon. The Eagles missed the extra point kick.
Franklin added to its lead in the second quarter, off a blocked punt that gave the Indians possession at the Aberdeen two. Thornton scored on a two-yard sneak and with the conversion, led 14-6 with less than two minutes to play in the half.
Aberdeen, unfazed by the deficit or the short time left, moved 80 yards to get back into the end zone. Faulcon scored on a 15-yard run, and Austin Bonsall hit the PAT kick. The Eagles trailed 14-13 at the half.
Aberdeen took its first lead coming out of the intermission. The Eagles scored on Faulcon's 40-yard pass to Chavez Cheatham for a 19-14 lead and then scored again moments later on Bonsall's five-yard run.
Leading 25-14 in the fourth, Aberdeen saw Franklin's Ian Thomas break off a 40-yard touchdown jaunt to cut the lead to 25-20, but the Eagles then added a game-clinching score late on Faulcon's 15-yard run. Bonsall added the point after kick to finalize the scoring.
"I think we had playoff jitters early," Eagles head coach Johnny Brooks said, noting the two big plays that led to Franklin's first two scores. Brooks says not giving up big plays is what the Eagles talked about in game preparation.
Carpenter had two interceptions, including one late to seal the win. Marquis Harris also had an interception, ending a Franklin drive right before the half.