Defensive breakdowns and critical offensive mistakes resulted in a Franklin’s 42-7 loss for Franklin at Decatur Central in Friday night’s regular-season finale.
The Grizzly Cubs moved the ball consistently but hurt themselves with drive-killing turnovers.
“That’s a good football team and they force you into some things,” Franklin coach Adam Reese said. “We had five turnovers, and you can’t do that. I thought we had kind of moved past that from the beginning of the season, but it is what it is.
“Mistakes at key times has kind of been the story of our season.”
The Hawks (7-2) got a big night from sophomore running back Tyrone Tracy, beginning with their opening drive, which he capped with a 5-yard touchdown run.
A 50-yard run by Tracy keyed the next Decatur Central scoring drive, with Derrick Whitlock finishing with a 3-yard scoring plunge. The Hawks added a 26-yard field goal from Logan Crum and a 21-yard scoring pass from Bryce Jefferson to Lucas Kahre for a 22-0 halftime lead.
Sophomore Alec Maclennan picked up some good yardage for the Cubs (1-8) on the opening drive of the second half, helping Franklin get into scoring position. Quarterback Jake Moore finished the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run, making the score 22-7 after Phoenix Campos converted the extra point.
The ray of hope for Franklin was dimmed on the next play from scrimmage as Tracy went off left tackle for a 52-yard scoring run to make it 28-7. He finished the night with more than 200 yards rushing.
Franklin opened the third quarter with a promising drive, advancing inside the Decatur Central 25. But the drive ended in disaster Decatur Central’s Jaylen Adkins intercepted a pass and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown, putting the Hawks up 35-7.
Franklin running back Zach Dowell reeled off a couple of 15-yard runs to again put the Cubs into Decatur Central territory, but the drive ended on a lost fumble.
The Hawks went up 42-7 when Whitlock caught a screen pass from Jefferson for a touchdown.
The Cubs later lost another fumble at the Hawks’ 1-yard line.
Reese said the message to the team for Friday’s Class 4A sectional opener against visiting Columbus East is to build on the positives.
“We were inches away on a number of occasions, but those inches are the difference between winning football games and not,” Reese said. “The beautiful thing about the sectional is that both teams are 0-0 starting the sectional. There’s no doubt that Columbus East is a very good team and we’re honored to have them come in to our place.
“We’re going to have to play really well to beat them. But if we can make some plays and force them to make mistakes, we can be right in it.”