Franklin Makes Most of Its Plays to Beat Taunton

Franklin football
Shane Kindred pulls in a TD catch just seconds before halftime, helping Franklin pull away from Taunton on its way to a big win. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Taunton ran 60 plays to Franklin’s 27. The Tigers had seven drives that reached Franklin territory, including three that reached the red zone, but came away empty on each possession. The Panthers put together only two drives of more than five plays, but they found the end zone four times.

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Although it felt closer than the final score, Franklin made the big plays on both sides of the ball and rolled to a comfortable 35-0 win over Taunton on Friday night at Pisini Stadium. The win keeps Franklin unbeaten overall and in a three-way tie for first in the Kelley-Rex.

“They had a ton of chances,” Franklin coach Eian Bain admitted. “[Taunton] put the pressure on us, they did some things that made it hard to do what we wanted. When you play bad football, you can’t win games. The first thing we had to do was get rid of the bad football and once we got rid of bad football, we were able to compete a little better and we made some plays.”

Taunton coach Brad Sidwell was rueing missed opportunities for his offense in each of the past two weeks and a missed opportunity to end his former team’s perfect record. “We’ve got to capitalize when it’s our opportunity and we didn’t do it,” he said. “I knew their offense was pretty potent and their defense is kind of underrated. They’re pretty fast and and they run to the ball and make plays. We’ve got to make sure we punch it in early on.”

The Tigers, helped by two third down penalties, moved the ball near midfield on their first drive before punting. Just two plays later, they were behind. Jared Arone started away from the Franklin sideline then looked back and hit a wide open Mack Gulla (240 total yards),who had leaked out of the backfield, for a 69-yard score.

Nathan Keenan returned the ensuing kick 33 yards out to the 44 to give Taunton good starting field position for its next drive. A 15-yard screen pass from Jacob Leonard to Evan Perrotta and a 19-yard sweep by Jose Touron got the Tigers into Franklin territory. The Panthers clamped down on the ground game and on fourth and three from the 15, Leonard’s pass to Touron fell incomplete.

Mckyen Gonsalves recovered a Gulla fumble two plays later to give Taunton back the ball at the Franklin 35. A sack by Jay Gulla and Nick Quintina pushed the Tigers back, but on fourth down Leonard connected with Touron on a 21 yard catch and run to get the ball to the five. Taunton only managed two more yards and Keenan’s 20-yard field goal slid wide right.

Two personal foul calls ended Franklin’s next drive quickly and Taunton again started in opposition territory. A good tackle on third down by Jack Marino forced a Tigers punt. Nick Lima’s sack of Arone forced a three-and-out and Taunton got the ball at the Franklin 39. This time the Tigers gained six yards but Leonard (14-of-34, 182 yards) couldn’t connect with Touron on fourth and short.

With just over two minutes remaining in the half, Franklin went into its hurry-up offense and put together its best drive of the game. Helped by a face mask call, the Panthers quickly got into Taunton’s end of the field but a touchdown pass to Will Tracey was called back because an ineligible receiver downfield. Arone (8-of-11, 132 yards) would eventually fire a strike down the middle to Shane Kindred, who held on through contact for a 15-yard score with just eight seconds left in the half.

It was the third time in five games that Franklin has put together a drive like that to close out a half.

“That was the backbreaker and then it turned the tide the rest of the way,” Sidwell explained. “I felt like we could keep fighting if we could put one in there but after that it was tough to keep it together. I was worried we were going to have to match their scores and we certainly didn’t.”

Although it felt like Taunton had the ball for the bulk of the first 24 minutes, the Panthers led 14-0. Just 1:13 into the third quarter and the lead grew to 21-0. After another touchdown pass to Tracey was called back by penalty, Gulla (10 carries, 170 yards) took a carry to the left, cut inside the tackle, and then bounced it to the sideline, racing away from Taunton defenders for a 56-yard touchdown.

“Mack really took off in the second half,” Bain said. “We haven’t used him a lot catching the ball but tonight we were like we’re going to get him a ball or two out of the backfield and he caught that one and went with it. Mack is a very powerful kid but he’s very fast. He’s got a lot of breakaway speed so when you give him enough room he can make a big play.”

Taunton tried to mount a scoring drive to stem the home team’s momentum. Leonard found Touron with a nice pass on the run to convert third down and then followed that with a 29-yard pass down the near sideline to Troy Santos. The Tigers got as far as the Franklin 27, but a sack by Jay Gulla set up third and long and two incomplete passes later the drive was over.

On the very next play from scrimmage, the game was effectively over too. Mack Gulla broke through the line and into the secondary where he spun off a hit, cut to this right to the sideline and was gone. The 73-yard score put Franklin up four scores with 18 minutes left to play.

A 39-yard screen pass to Perrotta, who appeared to be dragged down but actually landed on a Franklin player before getting up for an extra 15 yards, gave Taunton first and goal, but Cullen Pek stuffed a run for a loss of one and then Jase Lyons intercepted a pass at the goal line. Lyons would later add his second pick of the night, perfectly reading and undercutting an out-route, and returned it 24 yards for the game’s final score.

Bain praised his team’s ability to not have a letdown after last week’s big win over Mansfield. He said, “There’s something to be said about getting used to people talking about you, having articles about you, we had Homecoming going on, but we talked to the kids about championship mentality. I thought we responded in the second half and that was big.”

Franklin (5-0) will get a rare bye week before traveling to Attleboro. Taunton (3-2) will try to end its two-game skid when it hosts Oliver Ames in the “Tiger Bowl” on Thursday night.

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King Philip Stuns Franklin With Late Touchdown

King Philip football Danny Clancy
King Philip junior Danny Clancy comes down with the game-winning touchdown catch with just over a minute left in the game. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
WRENTHAM, Mass. – For three quarters, Franklin and King Philip were locked in a rock fight on Mactaz Field.

Then came the fourth quarter fireworks.

After neither team found the end zone in any of the first three quarters, there were three touchdowns in the final period including two in the final five minutes. Franklin took the lead with just over three minutes to go but King Philip answered with a game-winning drive, scoring with just over a minute to go to secure a 14-10 win.

King Philip football

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“I don’t know [how we won it], there were so many ups and downs in that one,” said King Philip head coach Brian Lee. “It was the type of game that we’ve had success in the past, the type of game we’ve competed in but this group, we’re very young and we don’t have many seniors out there, and throughout this year we were having trouble in the close games. But they kept coming back, it was just awesome to see.

“It wasn’t a beautiful game but I’m proud of the kids. We got seven games, I’m not sure I like this season but I like tonight. I saw a little bit of Warrior of football for the first time.”

Neither team scored in the first half and the only points of the third quarter came off the foot of Franklin senior Parker Cheuvront as the Panthers carried a 3-0 led into the final 12 minutes of action. King Philip took the lead with a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and was in position to close it out with just over five minutes to go.

But a penalty and an incomplete pass on third down forced KP to punt, and a low snap forced a scramble. Franklin was able to track the punter down, eventually forcing the ball free and senior Damon Carmignani, who had the initial pressure on the punter, came away with the ball and the Panthers were suddenly in business with the ball at the KP 34-yard line with just over five minutes to play.

King Philip football

Five plays later, including one of five hookups between quarterback Jared Arone (11/19, 102 yards) and receiver Jake O’Brien (five catches, 58 yards), the Panthers went to the ground and Mack Gulla (17 carries, 69 yards) burst up the middle, going airborne before falling on the goal line for a touchdown. Cheuvront’s point after gave the hosts a 10-7 lead with 3:17 to play.

As quickly as the momentum swung in favor of the visitors, it came right back for the hosts. Sophomore Rudy Gately (31 carries, 157 yards), who had the majority of carries with senior back Crawford Cantave out injured, moved the sticks with a 10-yard gain.

Facing 3rd and 7, junior quarterback Charlie Grant found senior Michael Zagordny as he fell out of bounds but it was ruled he got a foot down for a complete catch. The Panthers were also whistled for a personal foul for a late hit, moving the 38 yards (23 on the catch, 15 on the penalty) all the way down to the Franklin 19-yard line with 1:33 to play.

Franklin’s Jay Gulla and Xander Honor stopped Gately for a loss on first down so the Warriors went to the air on second down. Grant floated one to the corner of the end zone and junior Danny Clancy used his size to go up and get it despite good positioning from the defensive back, getting his feet inbounds for a 10-yard touchdown and a 14-10 lead with 1:08 to go.

“Those guys have been doing that a long time together, we just really haven’t been able to maximize it this year,” Lee said. “I’ve been jabbing at Clancy, asking when he was going to make the big plays we saw him make on JV on varsity. The kid had position on him and he was still able to pull it down, it was unreal.

“I thought Charlie played well for us and showed a lot of poise and leadership for us when we needed it.”

The Panthers didn’t get a chance at a final drive after fumbling on the ensuing kickoff with KP’s Nick Viscusi coming away with the loose ball.

“As a coach, you want to see competition and you want to see your guys compete to the end and I think we did that,” said Franklin head coach Eian Bain. “We certainly didn’t help ourselves tonight with penalties, miscues, putting the ball on the ground even if we got it back. End of the day, I thought we were our own worst enemy. King Philip is a good program, they played a really good game don’t get me wrong. This year felt like four years ago when we were in a lot of close games, learning how to win.

King Philip football

“You never want to let that adversity go to waste, hopefully, we learned a little bit about what it takes to close games in the Hockomock League. They are young too so hopefully both our programs are rising together and next year, when we see them on Thanksgiving, hopefully we’ll be right back here battling it out with them.”

There was a total of six drives in the first half, each team getting the ball three times. Franklin got the ball from the opening kickoff and moved the chains once but had to punt, which happened again on its next drive. The Panthers’ final drive of the opening half resulted in a turnover on downs. Franklin nearly had a touchdown on a pass from Arone into the end zone but Viscuti made a great play to knock the ball free and prevent six.

Things didn’t go much better for the Warriors on the offensive side of the ball. KP’s first drive went 15 plays and covered 74 yards but stalled in the red zone. The Warriors tried a fake field goal but Franklin was ready and junior Joseph Tirrell forced a fumble and classmate Jonathan Martins grabbed the loose ball. KP’s second and third drive combined for just seven yards on eight plays, taking the game to halftime.

The Warriors started to move the ball on its first possession of the second half but it came to a halt on a fumble, recovered by Franklin’s Jacob Briggs. The turnover resulted in points for the Panthers, who moved 31 yards on 8 plays. Cheuvront split the uprights from 32-yards out for a 3-0 advantage.

King Philip responded with a 9-play, 66-yard drive to take its first lead of the game less than two minutes into the fourth. Lining up with two fullbacks — senior Mike Malatesta and sophomore William Astorino — and with a tight end on either side of the line — Nathan Kearney and Harry Brown — the Warriors continued to pound the ball on the ground.

Gately had a trio of runs for 22 yards on this drive, following the blocking of Hunter Hastings and Dan Nineve on the left side, Kevin Pierro up the middle, and Amro Ismail and Chris Sesay on the right side, Gately racked up 157 total rushing yards on 31 carries.

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KP mixed things up on the next play as Grant dropped a perfect pass into Clancy’s hands down the right sideline for a 38-yard gain. Four plays later, Malatesta went up the middle on fourth down for a 2-yard touchdown, and Matthew Kelley’s point after made it 7-3, setting up the wild finish.

“[Gulla] is a dude so I was very pleased with the overall effort and the battle,” Lee said of the KP defensive effort, which held Franklin to 1-of-7 on third and 1-of-3 on fourth down and under 200 total yards of offense. “I was nervous, Crawford is our safety and has been playing really well on defense and now we’re going against a pretty good passing attack without him. But I was happy with the effort from the guys.”

King Philip finishes the year at 4-3 while Franklin closes out the Fall II season at 3-4.

King Philip football

Franklin Clamps Down Defensively To Beat Attleboro

Franklin football Mack Gulla
Attleboro’s Trainor Shreck chases after Franklin’s Mack Gulla in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 FRANKLIN, Mass. – In all the key moments of Friday night’s contest against visiting Attleboro, the Franklin football team delivered.

The Panthers converted a fourth down for a touchdown inside the final minutes of the first half, landed a huge counter-punch score late in the third quarter, and its defense stood tall all game long. The result was a 17-3 decision in favor of the hosts.

While the defense was certainly the story for Franklin, the biggest play of the game came from the Panthers’ offense. Attleboro, which was held scoreless in the first half, made it a one-score game when senior Colby Briggs drilled a 41-yard field goal with just seconds left in the third.

Franklin football Attleboro football Michael Strachan Eian Bain Jared Arone Mack Gulla Kaiden Murray

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But before the third quarter came to an end, Franklin delivered a game-changing response. Instead of starting the fourth hanging on to a seven-point lead, Panther senior running back Mack Gulla (21 carries, 172 yards) took the first carry of the ensuing drive to the end zone. The senior found a gap on the left side and then split a pair of defenders in the secondary, scampering for a 64-yard touchdown and a 17-3 lead with just four seconds left in the third.

“That wasn’t the game but it certainly allowed us to kind of take a deep breath and have some room,” said Franklin head coach Eian Bain. “It allowed us to really focus on the little things to keep the lead. A lot of people wouldn’t peg us as a team with someone with over 20 carries a game but that’s two weeks in a row that we’ve been able to get the run game going a little bit and that opens things up for passing.”

Franklin’s defense then put a pair of finishing touches on its strong performance, denying the visitors twice inside Panther territory. The Panthers were set to give the ball back to the Bombardiers with a punt but it was blocked by a diving Anthony Salviati. Attleboro’s Alex Bakowski dove onto the loose ball and the Bombardiers were back in business with nine minutes left at the Franklin 28-yard line.

But a second down strip sack from Jay Gulla forced the Bombardiers back 12-yards and an incomplete pass forced Attleboro to punt. A high punt bounced in a sea of players, bouncing off a Panther, and Attleboro’s Chris Leonardo won the battle at the bottom of the pile to give the visitors a second chance, this time first down in the red zone at the Franklin 18-yard line.

Franklin football Attleboro football Michael Strachan Eian Bain Jared Arone Mack Gulla Kaiden Murray

“We were not good in situational football last week and I thought we were definitely better tonight,” Bain said.
“We were in the right positions, I thought we were more comfortable with the calls. I thought coach Rosen did a nice job getting the gameplan tailored to our crew. Attleboro presents a lot of problems and they move Strachan around a lot and it’s hard to account for him and know where he is plus all their other talented players.”










The Panther defense was up to the task though, stuffing a runner for no gain on first down (after a false start backed Attleboro up 5 yards). An incomplete pass on second down was followed by a 7-yard run from senior Michael Strachan (14 carries, 41 yards) set up 4th and 8 from the 16. Attleboro went for it with a pass into the corner of the end zone but Franklin sophomore Luke Davis won the jump ball for the interception.

“We just can’t seem to put it all together, we haven’t been able to finish,” said Attleboro head coach Mike Strachan. “We’ve had chances, we’ve been in the right spots but we can’t seem to finish. We have something going, we shoot ourselves in the foot. We get a big run, there’s a hold…we block a punt and we don’t capitalize. It’s little things, and we’re young, and these are the growing pains. It’s a tough league to have growing pains.

“We felt like we were right there in this game. We’ve been in the last two games but we have to figure out a way to close out drives, to finish out drives. It’s a short year so it’s hard, there’s not much time to figure it out but we’re going to get right back to work and try to build off our defense and get our offense going.”

Franklin football Attleboro football Michael Strachan Eian Bain Jared Arone Mack Gulla Kaiden Murray

Attleboro’s defense got off to a strong start, forcing a three-and-out from the hosts on the opening drive of the game but Franklin’s defense was equal to the task, forcing the visitors to punt after six plays despite some good early runs from Kaiden Murray (17 carries, 47 yards).

Franklin had more success with its second drive, getting points on the board despite being held out of the end zone by the Bombardiers. Junior quarterback Jared Arone (8/12, 117 yards) hit senior Jake O’Brien on a hitch route on third to move the sticks, and then the two linked up again on the next play as Arone hit O’Brien on a quick slant over the middle and the receiver did rest, sprinting for 50 yards into Attleboro territory.

The Bombardiers buckled down inside the red zone though, holding the Panthers to just five yards on a pair of runs, sandwiched around an incomplete pass. Franklin settled for a 28-yard field goal from Parker Cheuvront with 1:54 left in the first quarter.

Attleboro grinded its way down field on the ensuing drive, moving the ball 57 yards on 14 plays (4.1 yards per play) — all on the ground. Murray and Strachan had the majority of the carries, and the Attleboro offense benefited from a pair of offside calls to move the sticks. The drive finally came to an end inside the red zone when Briggs’ 32-yard field goal was short.




Franklin went on another long drive, and this time found the end zone. A healthy dose of Mack Gulla early (27 yards on three straight carries) and a 16-yard pass-and-catch from Arone to Will Tracey helped move the Panthers into Attleboro territory. Gulla ran for five yards on third down to get inside the red zone but the Panthers had 4th and 5 from the 19-yard line. Instead of another field goal, Bain elected to go for it with under two minutes left in the half.

Arone dropped back and fired a pass over the middle, connecting with classmate Shane Kindred right at the goal line for a touchdown and a 10-0 advantage at halftime.

Besides the scoring drive for the Bombardiers at the end of the third quarter, Attleboro had three punts, the missed field goal, an interception, and a two-play drive at the end of the first half, totaling just under 150 yards of total offense.

Franklin football Attleboro football Michael Strachan Eian Bain Jared Arone Mack Gulla Kaiden Murray

The Panthers got a lot of pressure in the backfield from Michael Griffin, Jacob Briggs, Xander Honor, and Nick Quintina and a strong push up front from Anthony Quintina.

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“I thought the defense came to play,” Bain said. “We have a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball but on defense, not only do we have new faces, but we’re young too. With a scrimmage and two games under our belt, I think it’s starting to show that we’re starting to earn our stripes.

“I know everybody is in the same boat with their offseason program but this year it really hurt us as we tried to get the young guys up to speed quicker, get them sharper mentally, get them some actual reps. But as we’ve gotten some experience under our belts and as we’ve stayed the course of what we’re trying to do, I think it’s starting to show.”

Franklin football (2-1) is back in action on Saturday when it hosts Milford for a 12:00 start. Attleboro (0-3) will try to get its first win when it hosts Taunton on Friday at 6:00.