WRENTHAM — Following Franklin’s thrilling, 29-28 win over King Philip on Thanksgiving morning, there was some confusion on the winning sideline.
The Panthers had just beaten King Philip for the second year in a row, and they’d also won at least a share of the league title for consecutive years. What nobody seemed to know, was just when the last time Franklin had accomplished either feat.
But maybe that discussion misses the point a little. The Panthers, under coach Eian Bain, have established a new standard for the program, and made a little history Thursday morning. Right now, that will have to do.
“It’s huge. I told the kids before the game, we’re four quarters away from immortality,” Bain said. “It is what it is. But we haven’t had back-to-back wins on Thanksgiving in a while.We haven’t had back-to-back Hock titles in a really long while. I don’t care if we sharing the Hock title. I don’t care what the records are. We got a piece of the Hock championship today. Not many people running around Franklin these days can say that.”
Indeed, at 7-3 and 4-1 in the Hockomock League Kelley-Rex Division, Franklin earned a share of the league title, although technically Milford wins by virtue of its head-to-head victory over the Panthers.
King Philip falls to 9-2 and 3-2, and prepares for the Division 2 state title game against Catholic Memorial a week from Saturday.
But Thursday morning’s game was a classic and won’t be forgotten anytime soon. It came with a comeback, and a little gambling mojo from Bain.
King Philip took a 28-14 lead in the fourth quarter on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Thomas McLeish to WIll Astorino. Astorino had a tremendous game for KP, as he rushed for 1115 yards and three touchdowns, and the one receiving score.
Despite the late deficit, Franklin never quit. Quarterback Jase Lyons engineered a quick scoring drive, finding Luke Davis on a 19-yard touchdown with 1:59 left in the third as the Panthers pulled to within 28-21.
Lyons completed 23 of 27 passes for 252 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Davis was the main target, as he caught 10 passes for 157 yards and three touchdowns, then finally the two-point conversion.
KP seemed poised to salt it away, but Franklin hopped on a fumble on the next Warriors drive, giving the Panthers life. Lyons went back to work, and rushed for a 15-yard gain to the KP 1-yard line. Michael Davide scored from there on the next play, then it was decision time for Bain with 2:41 to play.
Of the choice, Bain said, “Scared money don’t make no money,” and he put his chips on Davis, a smart bet. Lyons hit Davis by the left pylon, and the Panthers celebrated.
KP’s last drive fizzled out near midfield.
“We had a call for both sides,” Bain said of the call. “I didn’t know if they would double Luke or not. We kind of came out in empty, tried to get a check or something like that. We motioned back. We ended up getting Luke singled against a really good player, but we just liked the call. I think Jase and I were on the same page with that, and he looked over and slung it out there. And that boy can play.”
Said Davis: “The corner was playing inside leverage all game. Honestly, I forget the play. I forget what happened that game. It’s all kind of a blur now. We just did a quick out route, Omaha. Jase threw a great pass. I was there. It just worked out well.”
Davis opened the game with a bang on a 69-yard catch and run for the touchdown that was probably the most impressive individual feat of the game. Astorino answered with two more touchdown runs, but Davis caught a 6-yard score from Lyons to help tie it at the half.
Behind Astorino and Rudy Gately (108 yards on 21 carries), KP took the lead in the third quarter on a 2-yard Astorino rushing touchdown. Gately made an interception after that to set up Astorino’s touchdown catch, but KP couldn’t close it out.