Rebels win defensive battle over Cougars

Franklin receiver Todd Campbell tries to get away from Dickson Countys Kevin Hambalek during the Rebels 7-6 overtime victory against the Cougars. Campbell had six catches in the game for 40 yards.

To have a shot at winning championships, football teams usually have to win games they’re not supposed to win.
With the deck stacked against them Friday night, the Franklin Rebels kept alive their hopes of a region championship and No. 1 seed for the playoffs with a 7-6 overtime victory at home against Dickson County.

Dickson kicker Dustin Moore missed a 21-yard field goal at the end of regulation to leave the game scoreless and then missed the point after on Dickson’s touchdown in OT to give Franklin (8-1, 5-1 Region 6-5A) the victory.

“Our kids hung in there and played hard,” Franklin coach Craig Clayton said. “That’s the way people have great years is by winning games like this. You’ve got to have a little luck.”

Josh Frohock had a 6-yard TD run on Franklin’s second play in overtime, and John Thomas converted the point after for the Rebels.

“I wanted it to come down to a kick,” Thomas said. “We just kept pushing and pushing until something happened. Sometimes good things happen to teams that play hard.”

The Cougars (7-2, 5-1) now have to beat Ravenwood this week to earn second place outright in 6-5A, while Franklin can claim the region championship by beating Centennial this week.

Franklin could do very little offensively until the overtime period, either starting a drive in Cougar territory or driving across midfield seven times but having only a blocked John Thomas field goal attempt and a goose egg on the scoreboard to show for it.

“Since I’m an offensive guy, it was really frustrating for me,” Clayton said. “But our defense played well enough to get us out of it. Part of our problem is there are only a few things we do well on offense, and other teams have learned that now and are defensing us better.”

Dickson’s defense held the Rebels to just 146 yards of total offense, with 99 of that on the ground.

Defensively the Rebels kept themselves in it, not allowing Dickson any kind of offensive flow even though the Franklin offense turned it over twice. The Cougars were not much better stat-wise, totaling 174 yards of offense, with 98 of that on the ground.

Where Dickson hurt Franklin the most was with its play-action passing game from quarterback John Primm, Clayton said. Even though the coaching staff saw what the Cougars like to do on film, they still were able to execute it effectively.

“I think our defense was starting to get tired out there,” Clayton said. “Donnie (Webb) is as good a defensive coordinator as there is out there. We knew they would do their play-action stuff, and a lot of their big plays came on that.

The Cougars’ most solid scoring chance, though, came on their final drive of regulation when they drove 76 yards in 13 plays to set up Moore for his field goal attempt. It was a low, line-drive kick that sailed wide left to give Franklin new life.
“We felt like we had the momentum going into overtime,” linebacker Casey Dykes said. “I went over and told John (Thomas) that he had to make the extra point if we scored. That turned out to be the biggest kick of the game.”

The Rebels never got into an offensive rhythm in the first half, driving the ball as deep as the Cougar 30 but not being able to convert. Dickson had a shot for points midway through the second quarter driving down to the Franklin 16, but a fumble pushed the Cougars back to the 36 out of field goal range.

Franklin got the ball on punts twice in Dickson territory during the second half, but the Rebels were unable to move any closer than the 26, fumbling it away once and having to punt the other.

The Rebels got the ball first in the overtime, with Frohock scoring from 6 yards out. David Brown scored on a 10-yard run on the Cougars’ first play, setting up Moore to miss his point-after wide left.

Franklin hosts cross-town rival Centennial this week, which picked up its first win Friday 20-13 over Columbia, while Dickson County hosts Ravenwood.

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