Hawks take to air, soar past Cubs

Class 5A No. 10 Decatur Central lived up to its ranking, taking the lead early and lighting up the scoreboard in the second quarter with 41 points to put Franklin away early on the way to an easy 75-33 win Friday night.

The Hawks scored on their first six possessions and also scored on a 26-yard pick-six, all in the first half.

Franklin gave Decatur Central immediate momentum by fumbling the opening kickoff. From there, the Hawks soared.

“That was just one of those things that could have happened at any point in the game,” Franklin coach Adam Reese said. “As it was, it happened at the start, and that kind of stands out.”

Decatur Central quarterback Bryce Jefferson had quite a night, throwing for 258 yards and six touchdowns.

Jefferson at one point completed eight straight passes, four of them for touchdowns. His touchdown passes came from 29, 26, 47, 49, 28 and 5 yards.

Jefferson also rushed for 50 yards before taking a seat at the start of the second half.

“They have a great team and some good athletes,” said Reese. “They were better than us tonight on defense.”

Jaylen Adkins led the Hawks with three catches for 81 yards and two touchdown receptions. Justin Burns also caught a pair of touchdowns for Decatur Central.

It was the second straight year the Grizzly Cubs finished the regular season 1-8. Decatur Central clinched the Mid-State Conference crown outright after sharing the title in 2014 with Whiteland. This eased the pain of last week’s 43-25 loss to 4A No. 1 Roncalli.

Franklin, though outmanned, outgunned and outplayed, did manage to show brilliance, especially in the form of freshman quarterback Drew Byerly, who came in midway through the second quarter.

Byerly ran for scores of 17 and 39 yards and threw for 74 yards.

Jhett Cassel caught four passes for 123 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown. Senior James Jones also scored from 3 yards out.

But turnovers, which have plagued the Cubs all year, were again troublesome as Franklin lost the ball four times, twice on fumbles and twice on interceptions.

The Cubs were caught off guard in the first half on an onside kick that the Hawks ultimately turned into a touchdown.

“We have to work on some things,” Reese said. “But we have one more game to go and we need to be prepared when we play in the sectional.”

Franklin gets a week off before traveling to Whiteland for the first round of the Class 5A tournament.

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Ken Severson is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.