Spring Hill – The correct pieces have been there for the Franklin High School football team, but they haven’t aligned just right until Friday night.
The Admirals stacked together a gritty 16-play, 82-yard fourth-quarter scoring drive behind a hard-nosed rushing attack and sprinkled with some newly established passing game behind quarterback Connor Beavon to claim a 27-20 win at Summit, the defending Class 5A runners-up and No. 2 team in the state in their classification.
The drive capped a night brimming with classic tough Donnie Webb-style football for Franklin, which improved to 2-2 overall. His defense stood strong and clinched the contest with a fourth down stop on Summit's final possession after Beavon connected with Carson Repass for a the deciding touchdown with 3:24 to play.
“It was all here tonight,” Webb said. “Yeah, we had out breakdowns, but I’m just so proud to be able to run the football and win a football game like that – really proud of them.”
Connor Beavon to Carson Repass for a 15-yard strike ... Franklin takes a 27-20 lead at Summit with 3:20 to play. Admirals has gotten to the 4, but a high snap set up third and long. Franklin still converted. pic.twitter.com/goZIeq8p3y— Charles Pulliam (@cspulliam) September 12, 2020
Webb was smiling ear-to-ear in the postgame huddle after his boys shook off some big plays from Destin Wade and the Spartans to take a confidence-building win on the road in Williamson County’s southern-most school. It was Franklin's first trip to Spring Hill since 2013 and also avenged a 28-14 loss to the Spartans off Hillsboro Road in Franklin last year.
That lengthy fourth quarter drive seemed to almost be wiped away despite reaching the Summit 4-yard line when a high snap went over Beavon’s head to force third-and-goal from the 15. After rolling behind Franklin’s big offensive line – anchored by Jason Amsler, Mason Jones and Fisher Anderson – for the somewhat methodical gains from DJ Durham, Beavon went back to his arm and sailed a pass to the corner of the endzone for a 15-yard touchdown strike to Carson Repass. Durham gained more than 30 yards on the ground on the final scoring drive.
“We had probably one of the longest possessions I’ve seen in Franklin,” said Beavon, who guided the steady Admirals offense and threw for 134 yards. “It starts with our o-line. Our o-line plays so well. They block so well.
“We just kept running the ball down their throats. We don't do anything without these guys."
Summit coach Brian Coleman said his smaller defensive front practiced leverage all week in preparation, but fatigue eventually caught up battling the 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-7 270-pound and heavier bodies of Franklin’s offensive line.
“They leaned on us a lot in that last drive,” Coleman said. “When you get tired, you start getting higher and higher and I think we did. I don’t think we will see another offensive line that big.”
Amsler, a 6-6, 270-pound tackle, credited his defense for coming up with a pair of interceptions as well as Beavon for leading the offense.
“Every facet or the game was working,” the senior said. “When that happens, you win.”
Carson Gardner closed the first half by taking a direct snap and gaining four yards for the Admirals first touchdown inside the final 30 seconds of the second quarter. Franklin’s AJ Elliot connected on field goals of 28 and 24 yards on the Admirals first two scoring drives.
The versatile Wade slipped tackles and raced down the sideline for a 46-yard touchdown run to pull Summit even at 13-13. A two-point conversion run failed, but the play sparked an explosive third quarter. On the next Admirals possession, Bryce Sparks shed three tacklers at one point and countered with a 48-yard touchdown run with 7:55 to play in the frame. Sparks recorded 113 yards rushing on 17 carries to lead Franklin’s ground game, which also received 64 yards from Durham on nine totes.
Not to be outdone in the third, Wade caused more headaches for the Franklin defense by busting through the middle and turning in a 74-yard scoring run just 45 seconds after Sparks found pay dirt to make it 20-all.
“Destin is our best athlete and we wanted to get him going so we just put the ball in his hands,” Coleman said. “We saw some things that the gave us, and evidently they saw some things we gave them. I mean, coach Webb is a heckuva defensive coordinator … it’s a chess match, but we were able to put the ball more in Destin’s hands and he’s a big playmaker.”
Wade rushed for 195 yards on 13 carries. He completed 5-of-12 pass for 36 yards and connected with Caleb Jolley for an 8-yard TD in the first frame.
Destin Wade connects with Caleb Jolley for a 9-yard touchdown and Summit takes a 7-3 lead over Franklin with 3:10 to play in the first quarter. Wade ripped off a 20-yard run prior to get deep in Admiral territory. pic.twitter.com/ebzcDuCHYl— Charles Pulliam (@cspulliam) September 12, 2020
However, Franklin’s Nick Gaca and Isaiah Domingo were able to come away with interceptions and Summit was silenced the rest of the game.
The Spartans tried to answer one more time, but Wade was stopped short on 4th-and-2 with 2:28 to play. Summit failed to get a first down in the fourth as the Admirals defense matched the offense and fired on all cylinders down the stretch.
"We needed to see what we have in the fourth quarter when they're driving it down our throats,” Coleman said. “We needed that … We needed to see who's going to step up, who's not, and we needed games like that, that don't hurt us in the region."
The Admirals amassed 364 yards of offense to Summit’s 257. Taylor Spierto added four catches for 64 yards for Franklin. Defensively, Michael Robertson came up with five tackles and a couple QB hits.
Tre Hunter was a bright spot for the Summit defense with several tackles and two sacks.
Summit (3-1) will get some added time to help heal up a few banged up players as their scheduled Week 5 contest against Overton is canceled due to COVID-19 regulations for Metro Nashville schools.
Franklin will step back into Region 6-6A play when they host Independence next week.
“Without a doubt, this gives us confidence going into next week to get back in the region race,” Webb said. “Anytime you get a win in this county, it’s huge.”
BRENTWOOD – As expected, Friday’s game between Ravenwood and Pulaski Academy of Arkansas fea…
FHS – 3 10 7 7 – 27
SHS – 7 0 13 0 – 20
1Q 6:14 F – AJ Elliot 28 FG;
1Q 3:10 S – Caleb Jolley 8 pass from Destin Wade (Ryan Crane kick);
2Q 5:37 F – Elliot 24 FG;
2Q 0:22 F – Carson Gardner 4 run (Elliot kick0;
3Q 8:40 S – Wade 46 run (Crane kick);
3Q 7:55 F – Bryce Sparks 48 run (Elliot kick);
3Q 7:39 S – Wade 74 run (Crane kick);
4Q 3:20 F – Carson Repass 15 pass from Connor Beavon (Elliot kick).
First Downs 23 9
Rushes-Yards 44-218 25-221
Passing Yards 134 36
Com-Att-Int 10-22-0 5-12-2
Penalties-Yards 6-30 5-50
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-0
Rushing – FHS 44-218 (Bryce Sparks 17-113, DJ Durham 9-64, Grayson Bruce 6-26, Ashton Orton 6-22, Carson Garner 1-4, Connor Beavon 4-0); SHS 25-221 (Destin Wade 13-195, Sam Kerouac 7-20, Brandon King 4-4, Maddox Reed 1-2).
Passing – FHS: Connor Beavon 10-22-0-1 for 134; SHS: Destin Wade 5-12-2-1 for 36.
Receiving – FHS 10-134 (Taylor Spierto 4-64, Carson Repass 2-38, Carson Garner 2-18, Mitch Lanik 1-9, Bryce Sparks 1-5); SHS 5-36 (Zac Switzer 3-27, Caleb Jolley 1-8, Brady Pierce 1-1).