Panthers overcome slow start to rout Paris

By Linda Younkin


PARIS – First came a bye week, followed by the first week of a three-week fall break.

Distractions? Definitely, but not enough to derail Frankfort High’s football team.

The Panthers (6-1) overcame a slow start and rolled to a 38-0 victory over Paris Friday at Blanton Collier Stadium. It was the district opener for both teams.

“It was ugly,” FHS coach Craig Foley said about the game.

“The second half was good. It happens with fall break. We had horrible practices all week. It’s something we’ve come to accept but we don’t like it. We know that first week of fall break we’re going to struggle a little bit.”

Those struggles came early Friday, with the Greyhounds (3-4) intercepting a pass on their own 15-yard line, ending one FHS drive, and coming up with the ball when Teantre McGee was hit after catching a pass from Chris Hawkins.

The ball popped up in the air and was caught by Louis Sanford with 5:38 left in the first quarter.

The first quarter ended in a scoreless tie.

“It messes us up a little bit,” FHS’ Jalen Washington said about fall break. “People want to stay up late and hang out, and they forget we have football practice. Fall break kills us.”

Despite the early problems Frankfort’s defense held, keeping Paris out of the end zone.

On the first play of the second quarter the Greyhounds faced fourth-and-seven at the FHS 10-yard line.

The Panthers stopped Paris at the 5-yard line, taking over on downs and starting its first scoring drive.

McGee rushed for three first downs during the drive, and Hawkins completed five passes for a total of 50 yards – four to Aaron Jackson and one to Washington.

The touchdown came on a six-yard pass from Washington to Dre Scott with 7:08 left in the first half. The conversion run failed, leaving the score at 6-0.

Three minutes later the Panthers scored again, taking over on their own 32-yard line after a Paris punt.

On the first play from scrimmage Hawkins connected with Jackson on a 68-yard pass play. The conversion pass failed, and the Panthers took a 12-0 lead into halftime.

They got things going in the second half, scoring more points in each of the last two quarters than they did in the first half.

“We were rolling so well,” Foley said about FHS’ first six games. “Then came the open week and we lost a little momentum, and this week was the first week of fall break.

“I hate to make excuses and I know that’s what it sounds like, but it took a while to get in the swing of things.”

The Greyhounds, after taking the opening kickoff of the second half, turned the ball over on downs at the FHS 33-yard line with 6:18 left in the third.

Frankfort wasted little time scoring, needing just four plays. James Maddox rushed for 27 yards on the first play, followed by a 25-yard run by Washington. McGee followed that up with a 24-yard gain, putting the ball at the Paris 1-yard line.

Hawkins scored on a push up the middle on the next play, and Bailey Spade kicked the extra point to give FHS a 19-0 lead with 5:24 remaining in the quarter.

Paris punted on its next possession, but a short kick and a return by Washington gave Frankfort the ball at PHS 14-yard line.

Hawkins had a 16-yard touchdown pass to Washington at the 2:17 mark. The point-after kick was no good, and FHS led 25-0.

So what got the Panthers going in the second half?

“Coach Foley getting on us and getting on us,” Washington said. “We finally woke up in the second half. The first half was sketchy.”

The fourth quarter started with the Greyhounds going for first down on a fourth-down play at their own 34-yard line.

Paris’ Nathaniel Stevens lost the ball when he was tackled on the fourth-down play, and FHS took over at the Greyhounds’ 18-yard line.

Frankfort kept the ball on the ground and ended the six-play drive with a one-yard run by Washington with 9:01 left in the game. The point-after kick was blocked, and the score was 31-0.

The last touchdown of the game came on a five-yard run by J.J. Jones with 1:34 remaining. Spade’s PAT made the final score 38-0.

The victory keeps Frankfort’s string of regular-season wins against district foes intact. The last time the Panthers lost a regular-season district game was in 2005 against Danville.

“We think about it all the time,” Washington said of the winning streak. “Every day Coach Foley and all the coaches tell us you can’t take anyone for granted or they’ll sneak up on you.

“This feels real good, excellent,” he said of the win.

Frankfort plays its next district game this Friday at Bracken County.

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