Lions Share

Tigers lose out on chance to repeat as district champions
BY BILL MARTIN
Reporter Sports Editor


Rockdale linebacker Jr. Harris strong arms Franklin quarterback Datron Dixon. 
Steve Young photo Rockdale linebacker Jr. Harris strong arms Franklin quarterback Datron Dixon. Steve Young photo FRANKLIN—Friday night’s setback to Franklin was so much more than just a regular season loss.

It cost a lot.

The Tigers lost out on the chance to defend their district championship after being clipped by the Lions 37-34 at plush Joe Hedrick Stadium.

With one game left in the season, Rockdale —which had won five straight— has a slim opportunity to repeat as league champs for the first time since 1998-1999.

Franklin improved to 7-2 on the season and 5-0 in District 10-3A play.

The Lions close out the season at Academy (3-6, 1-4) and barring a monumental upset, will wrestle the district crown away from Rockdale, now 6-3 and 4-1.

“I blew it,” said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller. “I blew the opportunity for these seniors to go out as district champions. But the beauty of high school football is, we get to play again. And we get to go to the playoffs and we’re already in the playoffs, so everything’s okay on that front, but we’ve got to do some things better, and I’ve got to be better.”

“Our kids, I can’t say too much for them,” said Franklin Coach Mike Hedrick. “They stayed after it and they played football. It was a great win. A great win for us. I’ve been doing this a long time and it’s way up on my highlight list.”

The Tigers 13-game district winning streak bit the dust Friday.

But, as Miller mentioned, the Tigers will play on in the state playoffs after they end the season by hosting hapless Jarrell (0-9, 0-5).

Miller has guided the Tigers to a school-record 10 playoff appearances, including five straight and are in line to finish second in district for the eighth time.

Trailing 37-34 with 3 minutes, 51 seconds remaining to be played, the Tigers had a golden opportunity to snatch the game away from Franklin, but could not complete the task.

After Torry Locklin lofted a 33-yard pass to a wide-open Quentin Hughes who had snuck behind the Franklin defense in the end zone, the Tigers perfectly executed an onside kick which was pounced on by Jaqualyn Crawford at midfield.

However, the Tigers were unable to convert a first down on four straight runs on which two went for no yardage and on fourth-and-two, Crawford was tripped up behind the line of scrimmage and Franklin took possession of the ball with 1:44 left in the game and ran out the clock.

Rockdale certainly had its usual plethora of offensive firepower, out-gaining the Lions 421 to 355, including Locklin’s best outing as a passer.

The senior connected on 16-of-22 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns.


Clockwise from bottom left, Jackson Perry looks for some running room. Middle left, Dylan Rowe eyes a loose ball. Top left, Dylan David crashes with Franklin’s Rashawn Green. Middle top, Tyler Lehmkuhl sits in disbelief of the Tigers loss. Top right, Jaqualyn Crawford stays arms length from Franklin’s Will Fannin. Middle right Cayden McBride gets a mouthful as he penetrates the line. Bottom right, a gang of Tigers defenders including Justin Nelson (50), Jackson Perry (10) and Will Storey (7) collapse on Franklin’s Jared Pedraza. Bottom middle, Torry Locklin drags defenders across the goal line. Middle, Will Storey and Felix Barnes console each other. 
Photography by Cliff Dungan and Steve Young Clockwise from bottom left, Jackson Perry looks for some running room. Middle left, Dylan Rowe eyes a loose ball. Top left, Dylan David crashes with Franklin’s Rashawn Green. Middle top, Tyler Lehmkuhl sits in disbelief of the Tigers loss. Top right, Jaqualyn Crawford stays arms length from Franklin’s Will Fannin. Middle right Cayden McBride gets a mouthful as he penetrates the line. Bottom right, a gang of Tigers defenders including Justin Nelson (50), Jackson Perry (10) and Will Storey (7) collapse on Franklin’s Jared Pedraza. Bottom middle, Torry Locklin drags defenders across the goal line. Middle, Will Storey and Felix Barnes console each other. Photography by Cliff Dungan and Steve Young Locklin was limited to a season-low 72 yards rushing on 14 carries.

Tyler Lehmkuhl was the main benefactor of Locklin’s accuracy, hauling in a career-best nine catches for 147 yards and a score.

Crawford was kept in check for the most part, running the ball 11 times for 51 yards and grabbing just four passes for 51 yards and for the first time this season, did not find the end zone.

While the Tiger defense did a decent job of closing off the Lions’ pounding running attack up the middle, they could not contain speedy Jared Pedraza who turned the corner for 165 yards on just 12 carries (13.8 yards per carry) with four of Franklin’s five touchdowns.

Who would have guessed that the game would have been decided by a field goal, a 30-yarder from C.J. Smith with 8:28 left in the third quarter.

PLAYOFF PICTURE

Tigers to face Malakoff

District 9-3A is a big ol’ stinkin’ mess. Teague knocked off previously unbeaten Malakoff and there is now a three-way tie for first place between Teague, Malakoff and West. Those three teams all play the lower tier teams in the district Friday and so it comes down to point spread to determine playoff seedings. If things hold steady, Rockdale will face No. 11 Malakoff on Friday, Nov. 17 in Crockett. Malakoff knocked the Tigers out of the playoffs last season in the regional round.









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