Black Bears’ win sails wide rightBrown throws for 191 yards, rushes for 47 in WNCAC loss
FRANKLIN — FRANKLIN — Down to the last seconds, either Pisgah or Franklin could have won a nail-biting game at Panther Pit Friday.
But a 20-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide right as time expired secured Franklin High’s dramatic 14-13 WNC Athletic Conference victory.
However, as the late American radio broadcaster Paul Harvey would often say, “and now, the rest of the story.”
Two plays prior to the failed field goal attempt, Pisgah senior quarterback McKinley Brown dove over the right side of the line into the end zone on a second down run from the two with 35.2 seconds left in the game to give the Black Bears a 19-14 lead over Franklin.
However, the jubilation turned quickly to frustration as the TD run was nullified and the lead disappeared from the scoreboard because of what has been the Black Bears’ Achilles heel all season — a penalty.
To no surprise, it was against Pisgah. The illegal procedure call backed Pisgah up five yards, but Franklin was also charged on the play with a dead ball unsportsmanlike conduct foul that returned the ball half the distance to the three-and-a half yard line.
So, Brown tried again and was stopped by the Franklin defense for a half-yard gain. The Panthers were unable to stop the clock and Pisgah Head Coach Brett Chappell was content to let the time run down to 2.5 seconds before calling a timeout. He sent senior placekicker Nathan Higdon and the field goal unit onto the field to spoil the Panthers’ undefeated run.
But instead, Pisgah’s hopes came crumbling down in excruciating fashion.
And as Harvey would also say at the end of his stories, “and now you know — the rest of the story.”
“We put the kids in some bad positions because of not making some checks that we worked on during the week,” said Chappell. “We had a good game plan together and once we started executing it, we started moving the ball. Obviously, we played much better in the second half than we did in the first. Our kids fought their tails off and our coaches put everything they had into it. It was a great high school football game and we just came up short.”
The win improved Franklin to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the WNCAC, while the Black Bears fell to 4-2 overall, 4-1 for playoff purposes and 1-1 in the WNCAC.
Pisgah was flagged for 11 penalties for 105 yards compared to Franklin’s seven for 59 yards. Ironically, coming into Friday night’s game with Franklin, the Black Bears were averaging 11 penalties for 102 yards.
Against the Panthers, Pisgah was charged with four, 15-yard major penalties.
Franklin’s vaunted rushing attack was held in check for 118 yards, but it was the Panthers’ passing game that did the most damage against the Black Bears as Luke Keener finished 16-of-29 for 174 yards with one TD pass.
“Our defense kept us in the game and played well,” said Chappell. “They kept their composure and there was a lot of special performances on this field (tonight). I am just proud of my kids.”
Brown was equal to his QB counterpart, finishing 15-of-19 for 191 yards with one touchdown pass.
But it was the Black Bears’ rushing game that never showed up, rushing for a insignificant 33 yards on 29 carries against the Panther’s defense.
Brown also finished with 47 yards on the ground on 19 carries, but four other Pisgah rushers combined for minus-14 rushing yards on 10 carries.
“It is a heartbreaker,” said Brown. “But you know we got to get over it and get it out of our minds and prepare for West (Henderson). We really didn’t make any adjustments for the second half, we just came out and executed better. This loss hurts. Especially the way it ended.”
Franklin struck first and took a 7-0 lead when Keener connected with fullback Billy Higdon for a 10-yard touchdown reception with 1:58 left in the first quarter.
Brown answered with 9:33 left in the second quarter on a 34-yard touchdown pass to senior Jesse Anderson and Higdon’s PAT tied the game at seven.
Anderson finished with seven receptions for 100 yards.
More than four minutes later, the Panthers’ bruising running back Jeremiah Young rushed in from the three to give Franklin a 14-7 halftime lead.
Midway through the third quarter, Pisgah senior Vadrey Crouch was unable to return a punt for any positive yards and was eventually tackled at the Black Bears’ 25.
When he got up, he apparently made an inappropriate comment to the referee on the spot and was flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.
From the shadows of its own end zone, Pisgah primarily used the pass to marched the ball 90-yards in 12 plays and sophomore Jesse Martinez capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown run with 10:20 left in the fourth quarter to slice Franklin’s lead to 14-13. But the Black Bears were unable to tie the game as Higdon’s point after try was tipped and hit off the cross bar.
Later in the game, the penalty bug again reared its ugly head and bit the Black Bears hard on the paw.
With 5:35 left in the game, the Panthers were hunting for another score and had marched the ball to the Pisgah 41. But Keener was picked off by Crouch at the 13 and he returned it 24 yards to the 37.
However, the play had off-setting penalties as Franklin was flagged for a horse-collar tackle and the Black Bears’ Lucas Hall was flagged for pass interference.
Two plays later, Pisgah’s Trevor Johnson stepped in front of a Keener pass in the flats and the junior returned it quickly to the Franklin two yard line.
But a flag laid on the field at the Franklin 42 and it was against Pisgah for an illegal block in the back.
Instead of the ball two yards away from the Panthers’ end zone and 5:12 left in the game, the Black Bears had to set up shop for the game’s final drive at it’s own 48.
Pisgah returns home for its homecoming Friday, Oct. 11 to host West Henderson at 7:30 p.m. from Memorial Stadium.