Broncos get revenge

Published 11:36 pm Friday, November 14, 2008

FRANKLIN—Franklin had the hunger Friday night.

The Broncos held Sussex Central to just 38 yards of total offense, including 3 yards in the second half, as Franklin stomped the Tigers 26-0 in the semifinal round of the Group A Region A Division 1 football playoffs.

The Broncos will now play at Colonial Beach, the top seed in the region, at 1 p.m. next Saturday for the regional championship. The Drifters, who beat Franklin 28-24 at Armory Field during the regular season, whipped West Point 42-22 Friday night in the other regional playoff game.

Just two weeks ago, Sussex Central pounded Franklin 32-6 behind 315 yards of total offense. Friday night was a totally different story. It was obvious when Sussex Central fumbled the opening kickoff that the Broncos wanted it more.

“We were hungry. We told the kids we have to stay hungry but at the same time stay humble,” said Franklin head coach Darren Parker. “The first one, they wanted it more than we did. This one, we wanted it more. They are a great team, a very well coached team.”

Playing on a saturated sponge after two days of rain, the Franklin defensive line totally manhandled Sussex. Tyler Childress had two monster sacks early in the third quarter, one for an 8-yard loss, the other for 11 yards. The Tigers’ running attack, which was strong two weeks ago, was stacked up at the line carry after carry. Sussex managed just 32 yards on the ground, including negative 3 in the second half.

“As coaches, we came together and made adjustments and these kids carried out the adjustments we made,” Parker said.

The Broncos were able to put two long scoring drives together in the first half. After a scoreless first quarter, Franklin moved the ball 68 yards on nine plays. Isaiah Hudson escaped a tackle and bolted 19 yards down to the Sussex 6. Two plays later, Hudson plunged 3 yards for a touchdown with 11 minutes to play in the half. Donzell Shearin could not convert the extra point and Franklin’s lead held at 6-0.

The Broncos put together a 7-minute drive on their next possession, grinding the ball on 15 straight running plays. Shearin scored on a 1-yard run to put Franklin up 12-0 with 1:31 left in the half. Hudson, who finished the game with 98 yards on 15 carries, had a 28-yard run during the drive.

A big punt return and an interception set up Franklin’s next two scores. In the third quarter, Malik Brown returned a punt to the Sussex 16. On a fourth-and-7 play, Shearin tore down the left sideline and dove for the end zone, falling short by a yard. On the next play, Shearin ran a yard for the score. Hudson’s 2-point conversion run gave the Broncos a 20-0 lead with 7:03 left in the third quarter.

On Sussex Central’s next possession, quarterback Robert Harris tossed a pass that was tipped at the line and intercepted by Shearin, who ran the ball 27 yards to the Tigers’ 19. Four plays later, Emmett Artis reached paydirt from 4 yards out to give the Broncos a 26-0 lead with 10:21 to play.

After going to the air against Windsor last week, Franklin had just two pass attempts all game, instead traveling the soggy ground for 192 yards rushing.

After the game, as the players filed to the end of the field for the postgame huddle, Parker flashed three fingers to the players, signifying three more games to play for a state title.

“We are three weeks away from a state championship,” he said. “We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and get ready for next week. One practice at a time. One week at a time.”

Franklin lost in the first round of the playoffs the previous two years. The Broncos won the Group A state championship in 2004.