Defense, big second half pushes Franklin past Brookville

Franklin quarterback Braden Woods followed his blockers into a mass of defenders. But he didn’t go down. The pile of all but a few of the 22 players on the field moved forward in slow motion like a rugby scrum. Just when it looked like the Brookville defense stopped Woods the pile lurched forward. When the play finally ended, Woods had pushed for 18 yards.

“You saw those front five guys working all night long, and obviously they didn’t give up on that play,” Woods said. “They’ve got guts.”

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And what did Woods contribute to the play?

“I was just holding onto the ball.”

Holding onto the ball, creating turnovers and pushing through adverse situations made the difference for Franklin in its 41-24 victory over Brookville on Friday night. The Wildcats (8-1, 5-0) must win at Oakwood (1-8) next week to win the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division title outright. The Wildcats have clinched a home game in the first round of Division III, Region 12 playoffs, according to

“We don’t want to share it,” Childers said. “We’ve got a lot to work for, we’ve got a lot to play for.”

Brookville (6-3, 3-2) was intent on making the Wildcats share league glory. The Blue Devils led 12-7 after two long drives had established sophomore halfback Sammy Daffler as the player to stop. He started the season at tight end, moved to fullback and now to halfback in the Blue Devils’ ground attack. The team’s third-leading rusher this season, he rushed for over 150 against Franklin and scored two touchdowns, including a 50-yarder in the fourth quarter.

“He’s been getting better and better all year for us,” Brookville coach Mike Hetrick said. “I was glad to see him get the success he had tonight.”

Franklin, meanwhile, had already been intercepted at the goal line and been forced to punt more than usual. The defense changed the momentum. Nate Passmore’s interception set up Woods and the offense at the Brookville 24. Woods scored from the one for a 14-12 lead. Then Aiden Kinser made an interception near midfield to set up Bryan Thacker’s 21-yard field goal for a 17-12 halftime lead.

“The turnovers they’ve had this year and the stops has just been amazing,” Woods said. “They’ve made a huge impact on the offense getting us good field position.”

The momentum pushed into the second half. Thacker kicked a 29-yard field goal, and the Wildcats finished that drive that featured the Woods scrum run with Gage Johnson’s 20-yard scoring run. After an interception by Danny Faulkner, Cyre Williams scored from the three for a 34-12 lead.

“I was super, super proud of our kids because there were times in that game when they had momentum and we were able to battle through and show some grit and get it done,” Childers said.

Woods passed for 116 yards and rushed for 54. Johnson rushed for 75 and Ryan Russell caught four passes for 65 yards. The Blue Devils outgained them 365-248.

“The turnovers wear you down,” Hetrick said. “And they’ve got good football players and they’re going to make plays eventually.”

The Wildcats are one win from being in the position they wanted to get to after being disappointed by a 6-4 record last season and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

“Going into the offseason you could really tell a difference in the weight room and the training program,” Woods said. “Everyone was really pushing themselves.”

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