Franklin Panthers send Murphy Bulldogs home with a loss
The Franklin Panthers varsity football team had another dominating performance last Friday night, beating the 1A Murphy Bulldogs 38-21 in the team’s home opener. Franklin’s offense executed consistently, accumulating an impressive 474 total yards. Meanwhile, the Panthers’ defense stifled Murphy’s passing game, allowing just 7 of 16 completions for a trivial 34 yards. The win gives the Panthers their second victory of the season, and makes them one of 13 unbeaten teams in Western North Carolina.
Head Coach Josh Brooks was pleased with his team’s overall performance.
“We started a little slow and gave up a few big plays early,” said Coach Brooks. “They did a great job of scouting us, but I was pleased with our progression throughout the game, and I was pleased with how we were able to dominate at the line of scrimmage.”
The Panthers started somewhat sluggishly but were able to put together 28 second-quarter points to secure the lead for the remainder of the game.
Sophomore Marquel Manning entertained the hometown crowd with yet another great game, racking up 92 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries. Quarterback Austin Gibson continues to be steadfast for the Panthers as well, completing 12 of 18 passes for 187 yards. “I could not be more pleased with how Austin has played for us so far,” said Coach Brooks. “He continues to run our offense effectively, making the right throws and putting our guys in good positions to make plays.”
The Panthers are fortunate in that they have not suffered any significant injuries so far this season, excluding a few minor bruises and sprains. Every Panther should be ready to play in their next game against the Rams of T.C. Roberson. However, Murphy did have a scare when one of their players went down during a kickoff return. Fortunately, the player was released from the hospital later that night with a minor neck sprain, and should be ready to play for the Bulldogs immediately.
The first two games of the season have better prepared the Panthers for their upcoming road test against 4A T.C. Roberson Friday night. The undefeated Rams, who routed West Henderson 42-7 last week, will be a formidable opponent and should give the Panthers all they can handle.
“This is by far the best team we have played this year,” said Coach Brooks. “They have great team speed and strength, and are very athletic. Their quarterback has a great feel for the game and is built like a fullback, and the rest of their backfield is extremely talented as well. We are expecting a very hard-nosed, physical game. They made a few mistakes against us last year that cost them the game, so I know they will be ready to play. I am excited for our team and this should help us get ready for conference play.”
The Panthers have won the last two meetings with the Rams, including a very close 10-9 victory last season. The Panthers lead the overall series 7- 3. Franklin hopes to continue this trend and build off of their early season success Friday night at T.C. Roberson High School. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.