Franklinton captures thrilling district win

Published 8:17 am Wednesday, October 12, 2016

SLIDELL — Franklinton scored on its third attempt from inside the 1 in overtime to defeat Salmen, 32-26, earning a road win in a thrilling District 8-4A opener Friday night.

The game went to overtime tied at 26-26.

Franklinton got the ball first, as each team had a possession beginning first-and-goal from the 10.

Quarterback Tahj Magee took the first play down to the Salmen 1-yard-line. The Spartans stopped him twice, but not three times, as on fourth down, Magee got into the end zone to give the Demons a 32-26 lead. The extra point was no good, keeping it a six-point game.

Salmen then took over at the 10. The Spartans threw three incompletions. Franklinton jumped offsides on fourth down, moving the ball to the 5. The Demons’ defense came up big, as the Spartans threw on fourth down, but turned it over on downs, ending the games.

“We did a lot of things wrong, but they showed heart in the end and finished and that’s what you want your kids to do at this level,” Franklinton coach Stephen Burris said. “(Heck), you make some mistakes. You want to finish it at the end.”

During the postgame interview, Burris was given a Gatorade shower in celebration of the victory.

It was the sixth time in 11 meetings since 2007 these teams have played a game that was decided by 10 points or fewer, and the fifth time a game was decided by seven points or fewer.

Franklinton is 9-2 overall against Salmen since 2007, which includes a 2009 state semifinal game that the Demons won 60-0.

Magee had a productive night throwing the ball, going 24-of-44 for 340 yards with two touchdowns. He also ran for two scores.

Darius Dawson had a monster day. He was on the receiving end of 14 passes for 178 yards (12.7 yards per catch), with one touchdown.

Franklinton got the ball to open the game and turned it over on downs at the Salmen 37. The Spartans went 63 yards in 12 plays while using six minutes, 30 seconds.

They scored when L.J. Leonard, who threw for 143 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, completed a 9-yard pass to Joshua Rodriguez. Eddie White’s extra point was good, making it 7-0 with 2:22 left in the first quarter.

Franklinton responded eight plays later when Magee completed a 35-yard pass to Rakerian Conerly. Raif Branch hit the extra point to even the game at 7-7 with 11:45 to go in the first half.

The score stayed that way until the midway point of the second quarter, when Magee gave the Demons the lead on a 2-yard run. Salmen jumped offsides and Franklinton went for two points, but was unable to convert, keeping it a 13-7 game with 5:46 left in the second quarter.

The key play was a 52-yard pass from Magee to Conerly to open the possession. Conerly had 87 yards receiving on two catches in the drive.

Salmen answered on the ensuing drive when De’shaun Short ran in from the 1. The extra point snap was bobbled. The holder tried to pick up the ball and ran right, but was tackled by the Demons as the score stayed tied, 13-13, at halftime.

Salmen turnovers were a key part of the early second half.

The Spartans got the ball first, but Franklinton’s Kian Conerly recovered a fumble on the second play at the Demons’ 47.

The offense took over, but turned it over on downs at Salmen’s 5.

Franklinton’s defense made the unsuccessful fourth-and-goal situation a moot point when Jayden Ard came up with one of the biggest plays of the game.

Salmen faced a second-and-10 from the 5 when Ard intercepted a pass at the 8 and raced to the end zone for the touchdown, giving the Demons the lead back at 20-13, after Branch’s extra point.

“Jayden’s interception was the biggest play of the game,” Burris said. “He’s a sophomore. Usually, he is in the spot he’s supposed to be in. He does his job. He’s got a long way to go, but he does his job over and over again.”

The Demons took a 20-13 lead to the fourth and added to that lead 2:08 into the fourth quarter, when Magee connected with Dawson for six points. The extra point was no good, making it 26-13 at the 9:52 mark of the fourth.

But in a rivalry that has featured games that have gone down to the wire over the years, this one was another one that would keep fans on the edge of their seats.

Salmen cut into the Demons’ lead when Leonard threw to Smith for a 12-yard scoring pass. The extra point was no good and Franklinton still had a seven-point lead with 7:47 left.

The Spartans tied the game with 3:35 on the clock when Short ran for 5 yards. Smith converted the extra point to even the game at 26-26.

Neither team could score down the stretch, sending the game to overtime.

Franklinton got back to the .500 mark at 3-3. The Demons continue in district action Friday when they host Loranger.