When the Franklin High School football team had to settle for a field goal in the third quarter of an offensive shootout with Oakwood, it felt like the missed opportunity in the red zone might come back to haunt the Wildcats.
Franklin’s defense made sure it didn’t.
The Wildcats finally came up with a third-down stop in the red zone early in the fourth quarter, and Noah Kremer blocked Oakwood kicker Joey Fehrman’s 23-yard field-goal attempt with 10:39 left.
Franklin used the momentum swing to take its first two-score lead on the ensuing drive and went on to finish off the Lumberjacks 66-48 on Friday night at Veterans Memorial Field at Atrium Stadium, remaining unbeaten and securing at least a share of the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division title.
“We made the adjustment to our alignment, and obviously it paid off (on the blocked kick),” Franklin coach Brad Childers said. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of these guys. They were relentless tonight. I have to give hats off to Oakwood, too, because they never quit. What a game. What an offensive show. It’s a big win for us.”
Oakwood (2-7 overall, 2-3 SWBL) didn’t score again until the final minute of play following the blocked field goal as Franklin’s defense took over. However, the Lumberjacks had taken their first lead on the drive before that.
After Franklin (9-0, 5-0) got a 23-yard field goal by Matt Schneider to make it 38-35 with 3:56 left in the third quarter, Oakwood quarterback Brian Erbe connected with Connor Dinkler on a 42-yard pass to go ahead in the back-and-forth battle.
To that point, defense had been at a premium, but that changed in the fourth quarter when Franklin got a spark and held the Jacks off the scoreboard until the final minute, while scoring three touchdowns of its own.
“The kids wanted to go for it,” Childers said of the decision to go for the field goal in the third quarter. “But sometimes you have to go with your gut, and I felt like we had to get the points. It worked out for us because we had a 10-point lead and our defense came around.”
It was a back-and-forth first half as the teams traded touchdowns to a 28-28 tie going into intermission. Franklin scored first on a Ryan Montgomery 6-yard run, and the Lumberjacks answered every time the Wildcats found the end zone.
Montgomery added a 33-yard touchdown run, one of his five for the night, and Braden White threw two touchdown passes to Noah Kremer (46 yards) and Jared Kinzer (25 yards) to account for Franklin’s other scores.
Connor Dinkler, Dylan Caplette and Brendan Talarczyk were on the receiving end of Erbe’s three first-half touchdown passes for Oakwood, and Erbe also scrambled in on a 1-yard score.
Erbe finished with 452 yards passing and had a hand in all seven touchdowns for the Lumberjacks. Montgomery had 151 yards receiving and 187 yards rushing, while White threw for 378 yards.
The Wildcats — who have clinched a first-round home game in the Division III, Region 12 playoffs, according to JoeEitel.com — will close the regular season at Brookville next Friday. Oakwood will visit Bellbrook.
F: Ryan Montgomery 6 run (Matt Schneider kick)
O: Connor Dinkler 9 pass from Brian Erbe (Joey Fehrman kick)
F: Montgomery 33 run (Schneider kick)
O: Dylan Caplette 43 pass from Erbe (Fehrman kick)
F: Noah Kremer 46 pass from Braden White (Schneider kick)
O: Erbe 1 run (Fehrman kick)
F: Jared Kinzer 25 pass from White (Schneider kick)
O: Brendan Talarczyk 10 pass from Erbe (Fehrman kick)
F: Kremer 22 pass from White (Schneider kick)
O: Erbe 1 run (Fehrman kick)
F: Schneider 23 field goal
O: Dinkler 42 pass from Erbe (Fehrman kick)
F: Montgomery 14 run (Schneider kick)
F: Montgomery 13 run (Schneider kick)
F: Montgomery 37 run (Schneider kick)
O: Dinkler 12 pass from Erbe (Pass failed)
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