Demons fall short of finals

Published 11:49 pm Friday, December 4, 2015

Big plays were a key factor in Franklinton’s 34-21 Class 4A state semifinal loss to visiting Edna Karr on Friday night.

No. 14-ranked Karr had five plays of at least 30 yards. Quarterback Aldon Clark threw for 416 yards and four touchdowns, with 216 of those yards and two scores going to Rayce McMath.

Demons coach Shane Smith praised his seniors for a strong season. Franklinton finished with a 10-4 record.

“They worked their tails off, they’ve won a lot of big games and they’ve brought this program into (at least) the third round of the playoffs three years in a row,” Smith said.

Senior Kobe Crain talked about the season.

“We had a good season coming up from the start, playing John Curtis (Franklinton tied Curtis 14-14 in the jamboree), a wonderful team,” Crain said. “Getting as far as we made it, the seniors stuck together and kept our head up. Even when we were down, we still gave it our all, everything we had.”

Karr won the toss and received. Franklinton forced the Cougars into a turnover on downs on their first possession and a punt on the second.

The 10th-seeded Demons took over at Karr’s 46 after the punt and on the third play, Tahj Magee, who finished with 159 passing yards, threw a short pass to Azende T. Magee. Magee, who had 96 yards receiving and 44 yards rushing, caught the pass, avoided a tackle and then took off up the left sideline to the end zone for the 42-yard touchdown. Raif Branch hit the extra point to make it 7-0 with 5:23 left in the first quarter.

It stayed that way until the second quarter. On the first play of the quarter, Karr fumbled and Franklinton’s Rodney King recovered the loose ball and returned it about 10 yards to Karr’s 34.

On the first play, Azende Magee got the ball, ran right, stiff armed a player, made another one miss and headed for the end zone for a 34-yard scoring run. Branch’s extra point made it a 14-0 contest with 11:38 remaining in the first half.

But Karr came back and ran off 26 consecutive points.

The first score came when Clark found Kenneth Simmons on a 14-yard touchdown strike. The kicker slipped on the extra point attempt, which was no good, keeping it a 14-6 game with 2:46 left in the second quarter.

Karr got the ball back with 1:03 remaining in the first half. Facing third-and-10 from their own 11, the Cougars used a big play to get into scoring position. Clark threw a pass to Simmons, who ran 55 yards to the Fraklinton 34.

After an incompletion, Clark threw to McMath for 30 more yards. Karr called timeout with three seconds to go. The next pass was incomplete with no time left, but a holding penalty on the Demons moved the ball to the 2 and an untimed down ended the half. That’s when Clark ran an option and pitched to Diamante Woolridge, who scored the touchdown. Clark passed to McMath for the two-point conversion, tying it 14-14 at halftime.

Franklinton was forced to punt to begin the third quarter and Karr scored in two plays when Clark found McMath on a 36-yard pass. The extra point was wide right and Karr was up for the first time, 20-14, with 9:57 to go.

Karr’s Darnell Bridges recovered a fumble on the next possession. The Cougars moved the ball to the 2, but an intentional grounding penalty on second-and-goal pushed the Cougars back to the 17. Clark found McMath in the end zone on third down for the touchdown. The two-point pass was incomplete, keeping it 26-14 with 6:06 on the clock.

The Demons defense kept Karr off the board for the next two possessions and then the offense drove 74 yards in 12 plays, capped off by Renaz Wilson’s 2-yard run. Branch’s extra point split the uprights and the Demons were within one possession at 26-21 with 7:02 left.

But Karr’s ability to make the big play came up again. On second-and-7 from the 35, in the second play of the drive, Clark threw to Colby Jefferson, who broke a tackle and went 65 yards for the touchdown. Clark then passed to Simmons for two for the 34-21 lead with 6:26 left.

Franklinton has a record of 32-9 over the last three years. In that time, the Demons have made it to at least the third round of the playoffs in the past three seasons — the semifinals the last two years and the quarters in 2013.

Franklinton began the year with a 2-2 record, but won eight of its last nine games coming in.

Karr advances to the finals and plays No. 1 Neville next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the state title.

“We turned the ball over. We were very sloppy coming out, which is very uncharacteristic of us, but we came out and represented well,” Karr coach Brice Brown said. “The second half, the defense did an awesome job of adjusting and making the necessary game plan of stopping Franklinton’s running game.”

Senior Tremario Magee gets a hug after the game.

Senior Tremario Magee gets a hug after the game.

Tahj Magee threw for 159 yards.

Tahj Magee threw for 159 yards.

Franklinton running back Azende T. Magee points toward the sky as he scores a touchdown in the first quarter.

Franklinton running back Azende T. Magee points toward the sky as he scores a touchdown in the first quarter.