FRANKLIN – Connor Beavon threw a 13-yard bullet to old friend Taylor Spierto just over the goal line with one second left to cap a 50-yard, eight-play drive that took just 60 seconds as Franklin High School scrambled from behind to defeat Page 17-14 Friday night in Rudderville.
The heart-stopping finish closed out the first time the two Williamson County teams had faced each other on the football field in more than 35 years in a game scheduled less than 36 hours before kick-off after both schools lost opponents due to COVID-19 cancellations.
“What a crazy game,” said Admirals coach Donnie Webb, shaking rain off his visor after the game, which was delayed for over an hour by lightning. “Page played with great passion, and we can’t afford to turn the ball over to a good team like that and expect to win. We’re glad to get out of here with the win.
“We challenged the offensive line because we thought Connor got hit way too many times, but they stepped up to the plate the last two drives to give the opportunity to win.”
The Patriots took the opening kick-off but fumbled on their third play with Spierto picking up the slick pigskin at the Page 31. Franklin needed just eight plays to draw first blood, with Beavon sneaking over from the one to put the Admirals up 7-0.
That score held through the lightning delay to open the second quarter and halfway through the third before A.J. Elliot put Franklin up 10-0 with a 21-yard field goal.
Page came right back against the bigger Admirals, closing the game to 10-7 when Jake McNamara threw for seven yards to Boyce Smith late in the third quarter. When Hank White pounded over from the one on fourth down with just six minutes left in the game, the Patriots had their first lead of the game, 14-10.
Franklin appeared to have the answer, moving to the Patriot 26-yard line before two penalties and a sack turned the ball over on downs with 1:33 left to play. Unable to gain a first down, McNamara’s punt from his own goal line set up the Admirals’ final drive.
Page coach Charles Rathbone was philosophical afterward, even though he admitted his charges might not be.
“I’m really proud of our kids," he said. "To fight that way and to play against that size and keep coming back and playing hard. We had them, but we let them get away.
“These guys are used to winning. Sometimes getting these guys to understand that losing a game is experience, that doesn’t always float around here. We want to win; we should have won and we didn’t. That stings, but we’ll come back. They played hard and I’m proud of them.”
Statistically, quarterbacks McNamara (19-of-30 for 204 yards) and Beavon (19-of-25 for 213 yards) were near mirror images of each other, but Franklin’s massive line gave the Admirals a big 111-18 rushing advantage.
Page did force three fumbles and recovered the trio.
Franklin improved to 4-5 overall and sits at 1-3 in Region 6-6A. The Admirals will look to wrap up a playoff spot next week, traveling to Dickson County (1-8, 0-4), a 35-14 loser to Fairview Friday night.
Page (3-4, 2-1 Region 5-5A), who has already locked up a postseason spot, travels to Franklin County (2-7, 1-3) to end the regular season. The Rebels lost Friday night to Shelbyville 43-10.
FHS 7 0 3 7 – 17
PHS 0 0 7 7 – 14
1Q 7:44 F – Connor Beavon 1 run (AJ Elliot kick);
3Q 5:59 F – Elliot 21 FG;
3Q 1:11 P – Boyce Smith 7 pass from Jake McNamara (Dominicke Quarantello kick);
4Q 6:04 P – Hank White 1 run (Quarantello kick);
4Q 0:01 F – Taylor Spierto 13 pass from Beavon (Elliot kick).
First Downs 18 12
Total Offense 324 222
Passing 213 204
Rushing 111 18
Penalties-Yds 9-70 5-30
Fumbles-Lost 3-3 2-1
Time of Possession 23:43 24:16
Passing – F: Connor Beavon 19-25-0-1 for 213; P: Jake McNamara 19-30-0-1 for 204.
Rushing – F: Bryce Sparks 4-43; DJ Durham 10-42; Grayson Bruce 8-27; Ashton Orton 2-9; Connor Beavon 10-(-10); P: Hank White 10-11; Jake McNamara 9-4; Ryan Rutland 4-4; Jordan Rutland 1-3; Michael Mayer 1-2; Eston Snider 1-(-6).
Receiving – F: Carson Garner 7-79; Carson Repass 6-67; Taylor Spierto 3-34; Grayson Bruce 2-28; Mitch Lanik 1-5; P: Gunner Gist 8-106; Eston Snider 3-44; Michael Mayer 2-16; Cason Walker 2-16; Ryan Rutland 1-10; Boyce Smith 2-10; Hank White 1-2.