FRANKLIN- King Philip’s dominance over Franklin is well documented. Coming into today, the Panthers hadn’t beaten the Warriors on Thanksgiving since 2009. Overall, the Panthers had lost 18 straight. The losing streak finally ended today after Franklin’s come from behind 27-20 win.
With the win, Franklin not only snapped their losing streak against King Philip, they also clinched the Kelley-Rex title.
Franklin coach Eian Bain talked about how satisfying today’s win was.
“It’s incredibly satisfying. I am proud as the coach but I am just happy for the kids and the town. I think the last couple of years these games have been really good. There have been some close ones and not so close ones.” Bain added-“These are games we have to win to move our program forward.”
After failing behind 14-0 early, it looked like King Philip was going to cruise to another Thanksgiving Day win against their rival. The Panthers responded however when quarterback Jared Arone handed the ball to Mack Gulla who turned around and pitched it back to Arone. The senior quarterback found his favorite target, senior wide receiver Shane Kindred down the right sideline for an 85 yard touchdown catch on a flea flicker. The play swung the momentum to Franklin’s side and the Panthers never looked back.
Franklin would have the extra point blocked but after King Philip failed to score on their next possession, the Panthers struck again. This time Arone found Kindred again on an 18 yard strike. The extra point made it 14-13.
With King Philip struggling to get into a groove offensively , Franklin got the ball back in good field position and capitalized on it. The Arone to Kindred connection struck again, this time for 37 yards. King Philip once again blocked the extra point but the Panthers led 19-14 at the break.
Arone talked about why Kindred and his receivers were on the same page today.
“We’ve been at it a long time. I love this kid, I have the best targets in the state, I think. They can compete with anyone out there.”
King Philip responded with a textbook KP drive to start the third quarter. The Warriors went 70 yards on 9 plays and capped of the 4:14 drive with a short touchdown run by Crawford Cantave. The Warriors went for two but failed to convert.
Like they have all season, Franklin responded with a 6 play, 68 yard scoring drive that was capped off by a five yard touchdown run by Mack Gulla. Arone converted the two point conversion and the Panthers took a 27-20 lead into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter was all about the defenses. Neither team scored but Franklin linebacker Jack Marino made the play of the game stopping King Philip’s Rudy Gately on a fourth and one at midfield. The stop gave Franklin the ball back with 2:25 and the Panthers were able to run the clock out.
It was a fitting end for a team that has struggled to finish games against King Philip in recent years. When asked about Marino, Bain couldn’t help but gush.
“Jack, first of all, he’s one of the savviest athletes,” Bain said. “Coach [Zach] Brown would say the same with baseball. Look back at any big win and there’s a moment where Jack Marino turned the tide.”
The play also signified that Franklin may have finally turned a corner in this rivalry.
“It’s hard to keep getting hit in the mouth, ” Bain said. “You’re down 14 and you have to ask yourself if you want to keep getting hit in the face over and over again. Our guys didn’t back down.”
The Panthers finished their season at 10-1. King Philip plays Catholic Memorial in the Division 2 Super Bowl next Thursday night.