Roanoke Rapids 20
by Marty Simpkins
FRANKLINTON — It was a disappointing Senior Night for the Red Rams, and 17 seniors left their last home game with a sour taste in their mouths after they lost to Roanoke Rapids 28-20 last Friday at home.
Franklinton was coming into this game with an overall record of 6-2, but a record of 1-1 in the conference. The Red Rams were second in the conference behind Roanoke Rapids. The Yellow Jackets remain No. 1 in the conference after the tight football game.
Coach Jeremy Buck thought that his offense was able to move well against Roanoke Rapids, but they just couldn't execute when needed.
"We moved the ball, but we just killed ourselves," Buck said. "We couldn't score down here, and we couldn't score down there. They didn't stop us, we just didn't execute."
The first quarter was all offense and no defense. Roanoke Rapids scored on their first possession of the game with a touchdown pass to take the lead, 7-0. Three minutes later, Franklinton answered back in a physical way. Freshman running back Ricky Person made some hard runs on the drive and scored on a eight-yard rushing touchdown.
Two minutes later, Roanoke Rapids senior quarterback De'Juan Walker threw another touchdown pass, this time a 53-yarder to go up 14-6.
Less than a minute went by, and junior quarterback Avery Wilder threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to senior Stephen Fritz to cut the lead to 14-13.
The Red Rams defense just couldn't stop the Yellow Jackets' quarterback. Walker scored a rushing touchdown, taking it to the house for 56 yards with 1:44 left in the first quarter.
Big, bruising fullback Dylan Allen scored a one-yard touchdown run to put his Yellow Jackets up 28-13 at the end of the second quarter.
Buck went into halftime worried about his defense's ability to stop the Yellow Jackets' offense, and he was forced to tweak his game plan.
"We made some adjustments," Buck said. "We were better upfront in the second half, and that allowed us to not let their running back get going. That's something we probably should have gone to earlier. Obviously it worked well for us in the second half."
The adjustments worked, and Roanoke Rapids was held scoreless for the rest of the game. However, the Red Rams' offense remained stuck. Senior quarterback Rondez Taylor was benched for the game for undisclosed disciplinary reasons and the team struggled without him on the field. Backup Avery Wilder threw two interceptions to help the Yellow Jackets stay in the lead.
However, things started to look up for the Red Rams late in the game. After Roanoke Rapids failed to convert a fourth down, Franklinton drove 60 yards down the field. On a wildcat formation (call it Wild Ram), Person took the direct snap and ran straight up the middle for a one-yard touchdown to make the score 28-20 with five minutes left in the game.
"Ricky's a good ball player," Buck said. "He gives us a chance to compete. We've got some other guys too, but Ricky's been a pretty good ball player for us."
After a big stop on defense, Franklinton had another chance to get back in the game with two minutes left. Unfortunately for the Red Rams, Wilder threw an interception to De'Juan Walker, his second of the night.
Because of the loss, Franklinton dropped to third in the conference. They will have to win the last two road games of the season to build some momentum heading into the playoffs.
"We got 20 points on the board," Buck said, "but we should have scored more. We just couldn't execute."