The night began with Franklin vying for its first 2-0 start since 2014.
By the end, the Rebels were simply hoping to find the end zone.
The Franklin Rebels’ home opener didn’t quite go as expected, suffering a 34-10 loss to the visiting Riverdale Warriors in non-conference play Friday evening at Franklin High School. Drew Smith ran roughshod on the Rebels’ defense, already producing his second straight three-touchdown game of the season with all of his scores coming in a first half that set an ugly tone for the home team.
“We got manhandled right from the beginning of the game,” Franklin head coach Donnie Webb told Home Page. “Their physicality was the biggest difference between tonight and when we saw them a year ago.”
Franklin (1-1) had won three of the previous four meetings between schools, including a 24-7 win in their matchup this time last year. The difference in class and size was evident from the opening drive, which saw the Warriors march 80 yards in just 2:25. Smith racked up 45 of his 92 rushing yards during that stretch, including a 10-yard dash to the house to give Riverdale the early lead.
The Rebels went three-and-out but appeared to have timed the Warriors’ offensive flow on the next drive. A sack by John Kirkpatrick (5 tackles, 1 rushing touchdown) left Riverdale with 3rd and long, only for senior quarterback Taylor Yancey to move the chains on a 42-yard reception to Marcus Lloyd.
A 19-yard completion to two-way starter Xaylyn McKinney (8 reception, 142 yards; 1 interception) later in the drive had the Warriors back in the red zone. Once again, Smith closed the show, breaking free for a 19-yard touchdown run to give Riverdale a 14-0 lead just 8:00 into the first quarter.
Franklin was shutout after one but finally landed on the board after a 41-yard field goal from Ian Burr capped a six-minute drive bridging the first and second quarter.
Riverdale wasn’t quite done, though, completing an 80-yard drive with a 2-yard run by Smith for his third touchdown of the night—and sixth of the season—before being pulled from the game. From there, Yancey took over, going a perfect 15/15 in the air for 217 yards and a touchdown pass, along with one on the ground as the Warriors took a 28-3 halftime lead into the locker room.
All that the Rebels could hope for was something positive on which to build for next week.
“The thing with our kids—and this is something I’ve been proud of as long as I’ve been coaching here—they never stop fighting, no matter the situation,” notes Webb.
That fight would carry over well into the 4th quarter in search of its lone touchdown. The first two drives of the second half only accentuated Franklin’s offensive struggles, bookending Riverdale’s 5th and final score of the night. A three-and-out to start the 3rd quarter was followed by a five-minute drive ending with senior quarterback Guy Lipscomb (11/20, 89 yds, 0 TDs, 1 INT) throwing an errant pass intended for Joshua Nichols but instead findng McKinney who ran it back 37 yards.
Franklin’s final offensive drive came up aces, with Lipscomb leading a 60-yard march down field with his arm and legs. An 11-yard pass from Lipscomb to Grayson Bruce on 3rd and 9 moved the chains in a big way, with a 16-yard completion to Mitch Lanik putting the Rebels in the red zone for the only time on the night. It wouldn’t go for naught, as Kirkpatrick broke a tackle to land in the end zone on a 2-yard run with just over two minutes to play.
“It wasn’t the end result we wanted, but it was certainly a productive way for our offense to end the night,” notes Webb, settling for whatever moral victory would come of the night.
Riverdale improves to 2-0 with the win as they head to Cookeville next Friday for the second of a three-game road trip.
As for Franklin, it’s a district rivalry game next Friday at Ravenwood (2-0), who held off a late rally from Blackman High School to take a 16-13 road win.
“Ravenwood, they’re a really strong squad this year but we can’t worry about them,” points out Webb. “Once we move past this game—which is right now—we are going to work on fixing Franklin.”