Franklin has had one goal since the first day of football practice in August. That goal moved one step closer to being accomplished in Reisterstown on Friday night, when the Indians defeated Huntingtown, 21-10, to advance to the state Class 3A title game.
Completing the goal will be a little more daunting.
The Indians (11-2) used a crisp running game and a stingy defense to defeat the Hurricanes (10-3) from Charles County. In doing so, they advance to the Class 3A State Championship on Thursday at Navy-Marine Corp Stadium in Annapolis.
“This is one of my proudest moments as a coach,” said Franklin coach Anthony Burgos, who led the Indians to state titles in 2013 and 2014. “This group worked hard and stayed focused all year. You saw their resilience tonight.”
Elijah Solomon led Franklin with 20 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown.
It took the Indians’ offense a while to get going before it scored all 21 of Franklin’s points in the second quarter.
After the Hurricanes took a 3-0 lead on Hunter Bray’s 36-yard field goal with 6:41 left in the first quarter, the Franklin offense went to work early in the second quarter. Taking over at their own 24, the Indians used a 36-yard run by Solomon on the first play to get the offense in gear. Seven plays later, receiver Corey Crawford scored on a jet sweep from 10 yards to give the Indians a 7-3 lead just 2:33 into the second quarter.
“It took us a while to get our splits aligned right, but once we did, we started rolling,” Solomon said. “It feels great [to go to Annapolis], but we still have some work to do.”
Franklin added to the lead on its next possession. The Indians defense tightened, forcing a Hurricanes punt from deep in their own territory. Franklin took over at the Huntingtown 38 and needed only four plays to score. The drive was capped by a direct snap to receiver Daniel Yarborough. The sophomore ran down the left sideline and scored from 29 yards to give the Indians a 14-3 lead with 4:57 left in the half.
The Indians scored again just before the half. The biggest play in that drive was a 50-yard pass from Franklin quarterback Vernon Brown to senior Joshua Wilson. Wilson tipped the ball at the Huntingtown 25, before finally catching it and being tackled at the 8-yard line. Solomon did the rest, scoring from 5 yards two plays later to give the Indians at 21-3 lead with 29.1 seconds left in the half.
Huntingtown took advantage of a bad punt in Franklin territory to engineer its only touchdown drive. The Hurricanes took over at the Franklin 12, and needed two plays to before Matteo Degennaro caught a 6-yard pass from Bray to cut the margin to 21-10 with 2:28 left in the third quarter.
The Franklin defense pitched a shutout from that point.
The Indians will face Frederick County’s Linganore, a winner over Chesapeake of Anne Arundel, in the other semifinal. The Lancers are the defending state champions.
“We’ll definitely have our work cut out for us,” said Burgos. “We played them in 2013, and they have a great team. We’ll have our hands full, but we’ll settle in and work on it [this week].”
F ; 0; 21; 0; 0; -; 21
H; 3; 0; 7; 0; -; 10
H - Bray 36 yd FG
F - Crawford 11 pass from Brown ( Spath Kick)
F - Yarborough 28 run (Spath Kick)
F - Solomon 5 run (Spath Kick)
H - Degennaro 7 pass from Bray (Bray Kick)