Broncos win thriller for regional football title

Published 1:36 pm Saturday, November 22, 2008

The last time Colonial Beach and Franklin played, the Drifters won on the last play of the game.

Saturday, it was the Broncos’ turn.

Franklin stopped previously unbeaten Colonial Beach at the 3-yard line on the game’s final play to down the Drifters 16-14 in the Group A Region A championship game.

Franklin (10-2) will now host the Group A Division 1 state semifinal game against William Campbell High School at 1 p.m. Saturday at Armory Field. With a win next week, the Broncos would play for the Group A state championship, which they won in 2004. William Campbell won the Region B championship Friday night, 35-7 over Buffalo Gap.

Late in the fourth quarter, Colonial Beach had just stopped Franklin on the Drifters’ 15. The Drifters took over on downs with three minutes left in the game, trailing 16-14. Franklin had stopped Colonial Beach’s offense the entire second half, but the Drifters suddenly found a second wind with the game on the line. With the ball on the Colonial Beach 48, quarterback Dylan Farinet scrambled down to the Franklin 26.

On second-and-9, Farinet had Nick Peterson wide open in the end zone but overthrew him. Then, Chad Inscoe took a handoff and ran down to the Franklin 7. The Broncos were penalized for having too many players on the field, and Colonial Beach had the ball first-and-goal on the Franklin 3.

Facing the same situation it faced during the regular-season meeting between the two teams, the Franklin defense dug in. Farinet was dropped for a 2-yard loss, and the Drifters called their final timeout with 28 seconds to play. On the next pay, Inscoe took a direct snap and brought the ball back to the 3 when a wall of Franklin tacklers hit him. With the clock down to 5 seconds, the Drifters rushed back to the line. Farinet took the snap and was met by a gang of Franklin tacklers at the line. The clock ran out and the Franklin faithful, who drove three hours and sat in the wind and cold, rushed the field. Some wept as the team celebrated at midfield, having finally beaten Colonial Beach for the first time in four tries.

The contest did not start out so great for the Broncos, who trailed 14-0 early in the second quarter. But defense and special teams helped the team to victory.

Colonial Beach opened the scoring on its second series, aided by a Franklin personal foul. With 7:17 left in the first quarter, Travis Cundiff took a handoff and bolted 26 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown. Farinet then threw a two-point conversion pass to T.T. Carey for the 8-0 lead.

On the Drifters’ next series, Franklin’s defense had its first goal-line stand of the day. Colonial Beach had the ball first-and-goal at the Franklin 2. The Broncos stopped Inscoe on a run, forced Farinet into an incomplete pass, dropped Peterson for a 3-yard loss, and on fourth down sacked Farinet for an 8-yard loss.

A turnover by Franklin then set up the Drifters for their next score. On fourth-and-2, Isaiah Hudson took a handoff and ran for what should have been a first down, but he fumbled, giving Colonial Beach the ball on the Franklin 35.

Seven plays later, Farinet hit Cundiff in the end zone with a 16-yard pass with 10:05 to play in the half. There was a dispute on the field as to whether the officials accidentally gave the Drifters five downs, but the play stood for a touchdown. Cundiff’s two-point run failed, which at the time didn’t seem like a big deal but would prove costly.

Franklin’s defense, and an odd play, helped the Broncos get on the scoreboard in the first half. Franklin’s Derrick Thompson picked off a Farinet pass, giving the Broncos the ball at their own 23. Malik Brown, subbing at quarterback for an injured Donzell Shearin, was picked off by Carey. Carey began running the ball but coughed it up, and an alert Brown picked it up and ran down to the Colonial Beach 6. Two plays later, Hudson burst 6 yards for the score. He also ran in the two-point conversion, and Franklin was back in the game, trailing 14-8 with 4:04 to play in the half.

After the half, the Franklin defense became stingy. Both teams had trouble moving the ball on offense, but on their third possession of the third quarter, the Broncos rolled. Hudson picked up 5 yards on a run and a Colonial Beach personal foul was tacked on, moving the ball down to the Colonial Beach 25. On the next play, Antonio Smith rambled for 18 yards down to the 7. On third-and-goal, Smith moved it another five yards down to the 2. Franklin gave the ball up on fourth down when Hudson was stopped at the 1.

Oddly, instead of the play breaking the Broncos’ spirit, the defense came up with a big play. Farinet took the snap and dropped back into the end zone. As he was being pursued, the ball slipped out of his hands and rolled in the end zone. Lacurt Boone snatched up the ball near the left sideline for a touchdown to tie the game at 14-14 with 2:26 to play in the third quarter. Hudson’s two-point run gave the Broncos the lead for the first time, 16-14.

The game then became a matter of field possession, which was helped when Franklin’s Dequan Frazier blocked a Russell Fields punt with 11:36 to play in the fourth quarter. Franklin did not score on its next series because of a fumble by Smith, but it pushed Colonial Beach back to its own 4.

Despite a bruised hip, Shearin came back in the game and made a difference. Although he didn’t run the ball or pass, the plays ran smoother with him in the game.

“He’s one of those big-time players that we have,” said Franklin head coach Darren Parker. “That’s where the ‘we’ comes in. He knew he couldn’t sit out while his family was on the field, giving it up. He said if he could come back in he would. It’s a small bruise. He will be fine.”

Colonial Beach outgained Franklin 256 total yards to 177. But the Drifters did almost nothing in the second half on offense until the final series.

“We prepared for everything all week. The kids did a great job of executing, and as a staff, we did a great job of making adjustments at the half,” Parker said. “They have a good team. This was a war today. When you get to this level of the playoffs, it’s going to be like that.”

All of Franklin’s yards were on the ground.