Special teams key in Franklinton loss to Covington

Published 11:07 pm Friday, August 31, 2018

A Covington kickoff return for a touchdown and a long kickoff return to begin the second half that resulted in a touchdown proved to be key in Franklinton’s 19-13 loss to the Lions in Friday’s season opener at home.

“Special teams was big for them,” Franklinton coach Jonathan Barber said. “We felt like we were a little bit ahead in special teams as far as where we’ve been in the past, but we sure didn’t show it tonight. We struggled on some of those units and it really cost us field position. I thought in the first half, we kind of dominated — first quarter especially — we kind of dominated field position.

“We gave up a couple big returns that flipped the field and it put our defense in a tough spot and we weren’t able to get off the field at times, so that was frustrating, but it’s something we’ve got to clean up.”

Franklinton won the field position battle in the first quarter, as punter Carson Ragas did a good job of pinning the Lions deep in their own territory. The defense made stops and gave the offense good field position and the work paid off in the form of a touchdown on a drive that began late in the first and ended in the second.

The Demons began with the ball at their own 40 with 2:37 left in the first and went 12 plays in 5:03, scoring on a 2-yard run by Mike Martin. Covington knocked down the two-point conversion pass to keep the game at 6-0 with 9:38 left in the first half.

But Covington responded on the ensuing kickoff when Chandler Washington returned it 89 yards to tie the game. Donis Sorto hit the extra point and Franklinton trailed 7-6 at the 9:23 mark.

Covington extended its lead when Sheldon Baham connected with Cade Rogers, who made a leaping catch, and then took it the rest of the way on a 24-yard touchdown. The extra point was no good, keeping it 13-6 with 6:32 remaining and it stayed that way through halftime.

Covington fumbled and then picked up the second half kickoff and returned it to Franklinton’s 44 and scored in eight plays when Baham ran right and scored on a 12-yard run to give the Lions a 19-6 lead after the missed extra point.

The Demons pulled within six on Martin’s 6-yard run and Keaton Catrett’s extra point split the uprights as Franklinton was down just 19-13 with 3:37 left in the third.

Martin had a strong game rushing for Franklinton, going for 127 yards on 27 attempts and two touchdowns.

“He was great tonight,” Barber said. “He ran the ball hard. We’ve just got to make a few more plays in the passing game and unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that tonight.”

The Demons had two more possessions after the touchdown, but were unable to capitalize in the 19-13 loss.

Franklinton travels to Fontainebleau on Friday.