Friday’s football game started a little differently for Franklin County.
It ended the same way the first three had – with a victory.
FCHS, ranked fourth in the state in Class 5A, remained unbeaten after defeating Frankfort High 62-30 at Benny Watkins Field.
It was the first loss of the season for the Panthers, ranked third in the state in Class 1A.
In their first three games the Flyers had scored on their first or second plays of the game.
On Friday it took a little longer.
“I thought we were a little sloppy at first,” FCHS coach Chris Tracy said, “but they put pressure on us. Our last three games we’ve scored on the first or second play, and they made us work for it.
“I’m proud of the guys for working out of it. We scored on both sides of the ball, and our special teams set up some scores.”
The Flyers did score on their first possession, set up by Lorenzo McCaskell’s opening kickoff return to the Frankfort 38-yard line.
The drive took eight plays, capped by a 2-yard quarterback keeper by Logan Woodside for the touchdown. Zack Durham kicked the extra point, and FCHS was ahead 7-0 with 9:40 left in the first quarter.
Frankfort was driving on its first possession, moving from its own 20-yard line to the Flyers’ 33. The big play of the drive was a 44-yard pass from Chris Hawkins to Jalen Washington, but the drive ended when Woodside intercepted Hawkins’ pass at the FCHS 8-yard line.
“Turnovers and the kicking game,” FHS coach Craig Foley said about keys to the game. “We don’t have a kicker and we had to do some things that gave them a short field, and picks killed some drives. We were inside the 20 and shot ourselves in the foot.”
The first interception didn’t hurt the Panthers, who recovered a Flyer fumble two plays later at the FCHS 18-yard line.
That started a scoring drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown run by Teantre McGee. The conversion run failed, leaving the score at 7-6 with five minutes left in the first quarter.
Before the period ended the Flyers scored three more times with drives starting at their own 45 and FHS’ 33 and 23-yard lines.
The first touchdown came on a 36-yard run by Chris Roberts with 3:31 remaining, the second was a 13-yard run by Ryan Timmons and the third a 20-yard pass from Woodside to Greg Maupin with four seconds left. Durham connected on all three point-after kicks.
After Timmons’ touchdown the Panthers answered with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Hawkins to Jalen Washington. The conversion pass failed, leaving the score at 21-12 with 1:05 left in the first.
It took the Flyers three plays to score Maupin’s touchdown, the final one of the period.
Washington’s kickoff return after that touchdown put the Panthers on the FCHS 37-yard line to start the second quarter. Hawkins hit Aaron Jackson with a 25-yard pass to put the ball at the 12-yard line, and the two hooked up on the next play for a touchdown, making the score 28-18.
The Flyers came back quickly, with Timmons scoring on a 68-yard run and Woodside returning an interception 26 yards for a touchdown. With Durham kicking the PAT after both scores, FCHS led 48-18 with 10:15 left in the second quarter.
“When you fall behind to them it limits what you can do against them,” Foley said. “We were forced to do some things we weren’t real comfortable with. They made plays, and we didn’t make plays.
“You take a couple of picks away, the momentum doesn’t shift so much and it could have been a different game.”
FCHS scored two more touchdowns before halftime – Timmons on a 9-yard run and Landon Hurst on a 95-yard interception return.
“Landon played like a freshman at times,” Tracy said, “but he stayed with it. He had that pick for a touchdown. He made up for mistakes he made. He didn’t let those hold him down. He did what we needed him to do, and I’m proud of him for that.”
The Flyers led 56-18 at halftime and scored their final touchdown with 9:31 left in the third quarter on an 86-yard pass play from Woodside to McCaskell.
That made the score 62-18, and it remained the same until FHS added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Anthony Robinson scored on a 5-yard run, and Robinson hit Da’von Bates with a 55-yard touchdown pass with 56 seconds left in the game.
Woodside finished the game going 8-for-16 for two touchdowns and 175 yards with no interceptions as the Flyers went to their bench in the second half.
McCaskell had 128 yards in receptions. Timmons rushed for 104 yards and three touchdowns, and Roberts finished with 93 yards rushing and one score.
Hawkins was 7-for-26 passing for 136 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. Robinson was 7-for-11 with one touchdown and 146 yards.
Washington, who had 104 yards receiving and 175 on kickoff returns, ended the game with 299 all-purpose yards for the Panthers. McCaskell had 233 all-purpose yards for FCHS.
Among those in attendance Friday to see Timmons were UK head football coach Joker Phillips and assistant Chuck Smith, and Arkansas assistant coach Kris Cinkovich, who left at halftime to fly back to Arkansas.
Timmons has narrowed his choices of schools to six, and UK and Arkansas are still in the running.
“It’s a learning experience for me, too,” Tracy said, “and it’s exciting. I like to see the kids and how they react when these people come to school.”
Both FCHS and Frankfort are in action this Friday. The Panthers host Western Hills, and Franklin County travels to Covington Scott.
Last week against Letcher County Central, Durham tied for second place in state football history for most point-after kicks made in a single game. Durham connected on all 11 PATs he attempted last week. On Friday he was 8 for 9.