For the Daily Journal
It was a finish that no coach likely game-plans for, but Franklin football coach Chris Coll blamed himself nonetheless for the ending to Friday’s game at Shelbyville.
The Grizzly Cubs attempted a game-winning 22-yard field goal with 31.1 seconds left, but the Golden Bears blocked it. But since Franklin attempted the kick on second down and recovered the block, the Cubs got another try.
This time, after lots of confusion on both sides and Shelbyville coaches’ vigorous protests, the officials set the ball up with about 8 seconds remaining and wound the clock, and Franklin got another try. However, in the midst of the confusion, the Cubs didn’t get the kick off until just after the buzzer sounded, giving the host Golden Bears an improbable 17-16 victory.
The loss dropped Franklin to 0-2 and improved Shelbyville to 2-0, but the Cubs showed marked improvement from last week’s 41-0 loss to Columbus North. They recovered three fumbles, and their offense, led by sophomore quarterback Drew Byerly, produced 384 yards.
“I screwed it up,” Coll said. “When they blocked (the field-goal try), I lost my head a little bit. We recovered and had a chance. We just mismanaged it at the end.”
The ending obscured an otherwise valiant effort. Tyce Miller, Clayton Coll and Austin Kisamore recovered first-half fumbles for Franklin, helping keep the Shelbyville offense at bay as the visitors built a 13-0 halftime lead. But the host Golden Bears scored a pair of third-quarter touchdowns to take a 14-13 edge.
Franklin regained the lead, 16-14, when Spencer Downhour nailed a 33-yard field goal with 8:33 remaining. But Shelbyville responded with a 23-yard field goal with 1:15 to play.
Byerly then engineered a seven-play, 51-yard drive to the Shelbyville 5, including a 24-yard scramble on 4th and 10 from the Shelbyville 37, to set up the wild finish.
Byerly finished with 204 yards rushing on 14 carries, including a 98-yard touchdown run that gave Franklin a 7-0 first-quarter lead. He also completed 13 of 36 passes for 154 yards and another touchdown, completing passes to four receivers. Riley McCann was his most frequent target, catching eight passes for 103 yards and a score.
Shelbyville’s Damon Lux rushed 26 times for 185 yards and a touchdown.
“That (loss) hurt, and it should,” Coll said. “Offensively, we’re learning. We’re still too inconsistent defensively, but we only gave up one big run (Lux’s 75-yard, go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter).”
Franklin plays Friday at Brownsburg.