The opening kickoff was not a good omen for Franklin's football team in Friday night's I-95 Kickoff Classic against Henry Wise at Morgan State's Hughes Stadium.
Wise's squib kick bounced off a Franklin player, and the Pumas' D'Angelo Niler recovered for the Prince George's County team. Six plays later, stellar Pumas running back Uriah Bethea dashed 5 yards up the middle untouched for the first score of a 30-7 Wise victory in a clash of 2010 state finalists — the Indians in Class 3A and the Pumas in Class 4A.
Bethea, with his offensive line punching big holes for him, carried the ball 19 times for 166 yards and three touchdowns. The senior running back, headed for James Madison, scored the first three Pumas touchdowns and ran in two 2-point conversions for a 22-0 lead with 5:20 left in the third quarter.
Franklin wide receiver Marquis Ellis said the Pumas' strong defensive line stifled the Indians' running game.
"I don't think our line got enough push," Ellis said. "They were trying, but Wise had a pretty good defensive line and Wise was making tackles, just wrapping us up."
The Indians (0-1) scored their only touchdown with 27 seconds left in the game as quarterback Jackson Thornton hit Devin Gibbs-Wagner with a 47-yard touchdown pass.
Thornton, a junior transfer, made a solid debut with the Indians, completing 17 of 30 passes for 197 yards.
All-Metro wide receiver Ian Thomas caught eight passes for 81 yards. Also a kick returner and safety, he finished with 139 all-purpose yards as well as six tackles and a fumble recovery. Anthony Taylor and Shaquille Melvin each ran for 24 yards.
After Bethea scored the first touchdown, the Indians ran 15 plays to the Pumas' 4-yard line but could not convert on fourth down. Late in the half, they made it to the 15, but Chandler Shepard picked off Thornton's pass in the end zone.
On the Pumas' next drive, Thomas recovered a fumble on Franklin's 17-yard line, but the Indians could not turn it into points. On their next drive, the Indians' attempt to punt went awry, with the snap going over Sean Myers' head. Myers recovered quickly and passed the ball to Dondre Randall, but Randall could not pick up first-down yardage.
"The opening kickoff, that was a setback," Franklin coach Anthony Burgos said. "We did OK, we battled there for a little bit and we had a couple opportunities to cut it down, and we didn't. Against a great team like this, if you don't make the plays when you have the opportunity, they're going to capitalize. Not to take anything away from them, but had we made a couple of plays when we had the opportunity, it might have been a better situation."
Bethea, who set a school record for touchdowns last season with 26, added two more short runs for scores. When he went out with cramps in his calves, Chase Powell (eight carries, 91 yards) continued the scoring parade, rushing for a 3-yard score and a 30-0 lead with 8:56 left in the game.
W 8 8 6 8 — 30
F 0 0 0 7 — 7
W—Bethea 5 run, Bethea run
W—Bethea 4 run, Bethea run
W—Bethea 1 run, run failed
W—Powell 3 run, Powell run
F—Gibbs-Wagner 42 pass from Thornton, Myers kickCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun