Slow start, big finish

No. 2 Panthers stay focused, beat No. 5 Lexington Christian

By Linda Younkin Published:

First play from scrimmage and a bad snap sent the ball sailing over the quarterback’s head, resulting in a 16-yard loss for Frankfort High’s football team.

A punt three plays later set up Lexington Christian with the ball in FHS territory, leading to the Eagles’ first touchdown.

It wasn’t the best of starts for the Panthers.

“It took awhile to get going,” FHS senior Trevon Washington said, “but we fought through it and kept working. We stayed focused and trusted each other.”

That work, focus and trust were key in Frankfort’s 43-14 win over LCA Friday night at Sower Field.

Lexington Christian, which defeated FHS 52-14 last year, entered Friday’s game with a 4-1 record and ranked fifth in the state in Class 2A.

“This was a good win,” FHS coach Craig Foley said. “I’m proud of the kids. That first series didn’t go very well but they didn’t get down when things didn’t go our way, and they’ve been that way all year long.”

Taking the opening kickoff, Frankfort (5-1) started its first possession at its own 30-yard line. On first down the ball was snapped over quarterback Chris Hawkins’ head, and Hawkins recovered the ball at the 14.

Forced to punt three plays later from the 11, Frankfort saw LCA take over at the FHS 45.

That started a scoring drive that ended with a 13-yard pass from Lincoln Henzman to Brannon McLarney. The point-after kick put the Eagles ahead 7-0 with 7:51 left in the first quarter, and the score stayed 7-0 at the end of the period.

Frankfort’s defense forced a fumble midway through the second quarter, and the Panthers recovered the ball at their own 27-yard line.

Teantre McGee had a 29-yard run that put the ball in LCA territory, and Hawkins hit Aaron Jackson with a 22-yard pass to put the ball at the Eagles’ 23-yard line.

From there McGee ran the ball for a touchdown with 4:09 left in the second quarter. The point-after kick was no good, and LCA led 7-6.

On the kickoff Dylan Lancaster returned the ball 80 yards for a touchdown, extending the Eagles’ lead to 14-6.

That turned out to be the last score of the game for Lexington Christian.

“The couple scores they had were blown coverage on our part,” Foley said. “They caught us off guard, but we made some adjustments. (Coach) Tommy (Acklin) made some defensive adjustments up front. They got their feet set, and we made plays after that.”

After the Eagles went ahead 14-6 Frankfort needed just two plays to score again, this time on a 68-yard run by Jalen Washington.

The conversion run failed, leaving the score 14-12, but the Panthers wasted no time in taking the lead.

After three-and-out for LCA, Frankfort scored on its next possession. McGee had a 38-yard run in the drive, which covered 62 yards, and Hawkins hit Jackson with a 34-yard scoring strike to give the Panthers an 18-14 lead at halftime.

They wouldn’t trail again.

“We have a lot of returning players who played a lot last year,” Foley said. “They’ve got a great will to win. They work hard and do what they have to do to come out on the winning side.”

The second half start was a complete turnaround for Frankfort, which scored quickly in the third quarter.

LCA misplayed the opening kickoff and FHS recovered at the Eagles’ 41-yard line. On the next play Chris Brooks went 41 yards for the score and a 24-14 FHS lead just 14 seconds into the third quarter.

Trevon Washington intercepted a Lincoln Henzman pass on the Eagles’ next possession, returning it to the LCA 20-yard line.

On third down Hawkins hit Jackson with a 24-yard touchdown pass, and FHS led 30-14.

The score stayed 30-14 until McGee scored on an 11-yard run with 7:15 left in the game.

The final touchdown came on a 1-yard run by Anthony Robinson with 12 seconds remaining, and Bailey Spade kicked the extra point to make the final score 43-14.

“Someone asked me before the game what we needed to do, and I told him we wanted to keep it balanced,” Foley said about his team’s offense. “(Coach) Shane (Smith) did a good job with our offense.”

Frankfort, ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 1A, has an open date this week. Its next game will be Oct. 5 at Paris for its district opener.

And while the Panthers won’t play this Friday, don’t say they have an off week.

“We’re going to keep working,” Trevon Washington said.

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