Franklin football’s strong defensive effort resulted in a 17-7 win Friday night over host and previously unbeaten Bel Air in a Class 3A North Region second-round playoff game.
The Indians’ defense pitched a shutout, while the offense did enough to get the win.
“What we’ve talked about all year is just trying to be patient and do our jobs and assignments,” Franklin coach Anthony Burgos said. “Our resume on what we’ve done throughout this year and the teams that we’ve lost to and played got us prepared for these moments.”
The Indians’ defense struck big late in the first quarter. Kyran Harry picked off a Bel Air pass inside his own 20.
Franklin (8-3) took possession at its own 23 and kick-started the drive with an 18-yard reverse run by Anthony Gibson. He later raced 26 yards to the Bel Air 25, and two plays later quarterback Billy Hartman connected with Desean Walker for a 30-yard touchdown pass. Hartman added the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 9:34 left in the half.
Bel Air (10-1) had trouble moving the ball. The Bobcats’ passing game totaled 40 yards, while leading rusher Nehemiah Ramsey had 56 yards on nine carries. Nate Furrow was held to 36 yards on nine carries.
The Bobcats also had multiple big yardage penalties and errors. “We were making mistakes, things that we know, little mistakes that we hadn’t made all year and I think it’s a testament to Franklin for some of the things they did,” Bobcats coach Eric Siegel said. “And we didn’t always respond in the best way, but those are learning experiences for next year as well.”
Two of those mistakes led to more points for Franklin at the end of the half. Two personal fouls on one play moved the ball to the Bel Air 13. The Bobcats’ defense held by recording two tackles for loss and forcing an incomplete pass, but Hartman kicked a 32-yard field goal to extend the lead to 10-0.
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Franklin’s final points came in the final minute of third quarter. Gibson, who rushed for 99 yards on 13 carries, raced 13 yards for a score. Hartman added the extra point to push the Indians ahead 17-0.
Elijah Mathis ended the next Bel Air possession with an interception, but it was just minutes later when the Bobcats’ defense came up big. Senior Savion Ricketts picked off a Hartman pass inside the Franklin 10 and easily rumbled into the end zone for a touchdown. Devin Trzeciak added the extra point to make it 17-7.
“I tried my best to win, ya know, we had a lot of seniors on this team,” Ricketts said. “Everyone has a bond on the team and we just wanted to win.”
The Bobcats followed by recovering an onside kick, but a personal foul nullified the play and any momentum. Ricketts recovered a fumble minutes later, but the Bobcats could not move the ball.
Harry returned another interception for a touchdown, but a holding call wiped out the points.
“That just comes with being in the right place, right time,” Harry said of his picks. “Coach made sure I was in the right place and [I] react to the balls and trust my instincts and help the team out — get the win and move on to the next round.”
The next round for the Indians is a Class 3A state quarterfinal, with the site, time and opponent to be determined.