BRENTWOOD – Twice this season Franklin High School senior Taylor Spierto has hauled in a game-winning touchdown from longtime teammate and Admirals quarterback Connor Beavon. On Friday at Ravenwood, the pair connected one more time and propelled Franklin into the Class 6A quarterfinals for the first time since 2016.
With four seconds remaining – and just 47 seconds after a go-ahead score by the host Raptors – Beavon peeled to his right as a Ravenwood defender quickly closed in and lofted a ball to the corner of the endzone. Spierto – with a defender hanging on him – came back to the pass and got two hands under the ball and rolled over for the game-winner.
Score Alert —> Connor Beavon and somehow, Taylor Spierto with the catch. Touchdown Admirals. 4 seconds to play. Franklin takes the lead pic.twitter.com/gPJPE5K9CM— Charles Pulliam (@cspulliam) November 14, 2020
The Admirals overcame a late turnover, a Ravenwood touchdown with 51 seconds to play and marched 73 yards to score and claim a 31-28 win on the road to advance in the postseason.
“Man, this feeling, there’s nothing like it,” said Beavon, who passed for three touchdowns and 304 yards – his third consecutive game passing with more than 300 yards passing. “I told Taylor to run to the corner of the end zone and I’m going to throw it up. It wasn’t the perfect pass, but he made an adjustment and caught the ball.”
“It’s just amazing,” said Spierto, who finished with 12 catches for 116 yards. “Connor made the throw and sometimes the underthrows are the best throws … so I just made the play.”
Franklin defeated Ravenwood for the first time since 2016 and earned another shot at Brentwood, which also won in dramatic fashion over Independence by the same score Friday, 31-28. The oldest rivalry in Williamson County will now decide a state semifinalist next week.
“I tell you what, our kids were resilient tonight,” said Franklin coach Donnie Webb, who admitted to being out of breath after looking like legendary college hoops Jim Valvano in celebration after the final buzzer. “I believe things happen for a reason. That final 51 seconds is what high school football is all about. Connor Beavon throwing to Taylor Spierto. Those two have been throwing together since the sixth grade and on this field, on the road, they got to do it one more time.
“I’m just so happy for them. They deserved that. Franklin deserved that.”
The Admirals inched in front 24-21 on a 35-yard field goal from AJ Elliot with 5:31 to play and the defense forced fourth down just two minutes later. A pass from Ravenwood backup quarterback Jacob Stewart was incomplete and the Raptors turned the ball over on downs at the Franklin 32-yard line.
However, two plays later, the Admirals fumbled for a second time in the fourth quarter and Ravenwood’s Myles Pollard recovered as the pendulum quickly swung in favor of the Raptors with 1:47 remaining. Stewart, who filled in under center after starter Trevor Andrews exited with a leg injury following an explosive first quarter, had his second chance in Franklin territory and found Lee Molette for an 18-yard strike with 51 seconds remaining as the home team grabbed a 28-24 advantage.
Score Alert: Jacob Stewart —> Lee Molette. Touchdown. Ravenwood takes a 28-24 lead with 51 seconds left. pic.twitter.com/Mofa1VsZoj— Charles Pulliam (@cspulliam) November 14, 2020
"We had played a great game defensively and one slip up and we are losing with 51 seconds to play," said Spierto. "I just walked to the sideline, got my head clear and thought, 'let’s go win this thing.'"
Ravenwood coach Matt Daniels said he felt that whoever had the ball last would win.
“It felt like we had that, but Franklin is so well disciplined and well coached,” he said. “They got it back and made just enough plays to out-do us tonight.”
Beavon guided a seven-play, 73-yard game-winning drive over the next 47 seconds. He hit Spierto first after a short return from Carson Garner and then turned to big receiver Carson Repass for back-to-back first-down catches on the sideline, stopping the clock with each pass. After getting to midfield, Beavon fired a 22-yarder to Repass to reach the Ravenwood 27. A penalty marker stopped the clock and Franklin took the first down. After an incompletion, Beavon rushed nine yards to get to the 18 with seven seconds left.
“We had to just stay calm,” Franklin senior lineman Mason Jones said of the final drive. “We knew we were going to pass it and up front, we’re huge, but we struggled a bit with pass protection, so we focused in.
“I’m not going to lie, I almost had a heart attack, but Connor and Taylor, they are amazing.”
Ravenwood stretched the Admirals defense on the final return, but after several laterals, Franklin’s Blake Erby swiped the ball and sealed the victory. The loss marked the first time in six seasons the Raptors were denied a trip to at least the state quarterfinals.
“I told the guys at the end there, obviously we didn’t plan for an end of the season speech, I mean, wow, we had a good week of practice, but we just didn’t make as many plays a Franklin did,” Daniels said. “That was the bottom line.
Scoring Alert —> On third and goal from the 3, Connor Beavon hits Carson Garner for the touchdown. Franklin pulls even again at Ravenwood, 21-21 with 2:58 to play in the third. pic.twitter.com/SXwnXc4rez— Charles Pulliam (@cspulliam) November 14, 2020
“Football gives us so much, especially in a year like this. It gives us so much joy. It’s a release and an outlet, but in a game like this, somebody has to lose and football can rip your heart out. And that's what it did for us tonight.”
Ravenwood, which advanced to the second round after a COVID-19 forfeit by first-round opponent Stewarts Creek, finished the season with a 7-5 record.
Franklin (7-5) has won four straight games and five of its last six.
“I can’t say enough about our kids and this coaching staff,” Webb said. “We’re going to take another road trip next week and all I can say is we’re happy to be practicing in Week 13. We’ll take it.”
Game Notes: Franklin snapped a four-game slide against Ravenwood. The Admirals last win over the Raptors came in 2016. … Three of Carson Repass’ six catches came on the Franklin’s drive. “That guy is a helluva player,” Spierto said of Repass, who crossed with Spierto on the final play to draw an extra defender. … Beavon now has 2,713 yards passing this season with 21 touchdowns. He’s completed 74% of his passes in the last three games. … Ravenwood’s Junior Colson racked up 13 tackles with two stops for loss, including a sack in his final game as a Raptor. … Ravenwood’s Jake Briningstool, a Mr. Football semifinalist, caught five of his six receptions in the first half, including his 18-yard TD to open the game. … Franklin's Carson Garner caught two touchdown passes and also rushed for a TD. ... Franklin held the Ravenwood offense under 300 yards for just the third time this season.
Franklin 31, Ravenwood 28, Class 6A 2nd Round
at Ravenwood High School, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020
FHS – 14 0 7 10 – 31
RHS – 14 0 7 7 – 28
1Q 9:56 R – Jake Briningstool 18 pass from Trevor Andrews (Alec Delperdang kick);
1Q 6:58 F – Carson Garner 40 pass from Connor Beavon (AJ Elliot kick);
1Q 5:57 R – Ross Johnston 32 pass from Andrews (Delperdang kick);
1Q 2:57 F – Garner 3 run (Elliot kick);
3Q 9:14 R – Justin Smitherman 42 run (Delperdang kick);
3Q 2:58 F – Garner 3 pass from Beavon (Elliot kick);
4Q 5:31 F – Elliot 35 FG;
4Q 0:51 R – Lee Molette 18 pass from Jacob Stewart (Delperdang kick);
4Q 0:04 F – Taylor Spierto 18 pass from Beavon (Elliot kick).
Total Offense – 382 269
Number of plays – 72 45
Penalties-Yards 3-20 8-90
Turnovers – 2 1
Punting-Average – 3-32 4-35
First Downs – 23 11
Third Down Conversions – 9-16 1-9
Time of Possession – 31:33 16:23
Rushing – FHS 38-78 (Bryce Sparks 15-48; Grayson Bruce 9-20, Carson Garner 3-7, DJ Durham 3-4, Beavon 8-(-1)). RHS 17-69 (Justin Smitherman 10-59, Trevor Andrews 2-15, Jacob Stewart 5(-5)).
Passing – FHS 23-34-0-3 for 304 (Connor Beavon 23-34-0-3 for 304). RHS 14-28-1-3 for 200 (Jacob Stewart 8-19-0-1 for 110, Trevor Andrews 6-9-1-2 for 90).
Receiving – FHS 23-304 (Taylor Spierto 12-116, Carson Repass 6-111, Carson Garner 4-62, Mitch Lanik 1-15). RHS 14-200 (Jake Briningstool 6-82, Ross Johnston 5-77, Justin Smitherman 1-19, Lee Molette 1-18, Tret Thomas 1-4).