Franklin falls in state semis

Published 9:04 pm Saturday, December 4, 2010

By Gwen Albers

Tidewater News

FRANKLIN—Head Coach Darren Parker’s intentions for Franklin to play a 14-week football season fell one week short.

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Jordan Jack got in the way.

Jack, a junior running back for Riverheads High School, scored five touchdowns and rushed for 159 yards to lead the Gladiators to a 35-8 win over the Broncos during the state semifinals at Armory Field on Saturday.

“We don’t make any excuses for today,” said Parker, who led Franklin to state titles in 2004 and 2008. “Today Riverheads beat us, and they are moving on to the state championship game.”

He said he and his coaching staff are proud of the players, who finished the season 12-2.

“They have accomplished a lot,” Parker said. “There’s only two teams in the history of the school that have done better, and this school has been here since the ‘60s. They have a lot to be proud about.”

Riverheads advanced to next week’s state championship game in Salem.

The Gladiator defense limited lead Bronco rusher Martinez Hill to 38 yards. Prior to Saturday’s game, the 5-foot-8, 170-pound senior rushed for 1,380 yards on 202 carries and scored 15 touchdowns.

Six-foot-2 senior Justin Grant led the Broncos in rushing with 49 yards on four carries. Grant also led in receptions, making four catches from senior quarterback Trey Kigler for 45 yards.

In the fourth quarter, Grant ran a kickoff return 80 yards for a touchdown, which was called back when a Franklin player was penalized for illegal blocking.

“That kid’s got talent,” Riverheads Head Coach Robert Casto said. “Every time he touches the ball, you hold your breath.”

Riverheads rushed for 379 yards compared to Franklin’s 161. The Gladiators also earned 23 first downs while the Broncos made 11.

As expected, the Gladiators never passed the ball. For the Broncos, Kigler completed 9 of 16 passes for a total of 71 yards and threw two interceptions.

Jack is one of three backs who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season for the Gladiators.

“It’s always someone different with us,” Casto said about Jack’s performance. “Jordan had a heck of a big game with backing from our offensive line. They’re our unsung heroes.”

Gladiator freshman kicker Sam Goodson was 5-for-5, improving his season total to 72 in 76 attempts.

Franklin received the opening kickoff. Five plays later, a Bronco fumble on the 40-yard line resulted in the Gladiators getting the ball. With 6:41 left in the first quarter, Jack scored on a 6-yard run.

Five minutes later, Jack scored on a 9-yard run. He added the final touchdown of the first half on a 2-yard run with 9:13 left on the clock.

The second half opened with Jack scoring on a 2-yard run with 6:14 left in the third quarter.

On Franklin’s next possession, Kigler ran 40 yards for a first down, putting the Broncos 30 yards from the end zone. A few plays later, Hill ran the ball for 7 yards to get the ball to the 13. Kigler scored on a 10-yard run with 1:15 left in the quarter. Hill added the 2-point conversion, making the score 28-8.

The Gladiators’ next possession ended with a punt, which Grant caught and ran back for 80 yards for a touchdown. Illegal blocking was called on the Broncos and the ball was called back.

Jack scored the Gladiators’ final touchdown on a 5-yard run with 4:01 left in the game.