Panthers Fall To Smoky Mountain

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By Randall Koenig

It was a great night for football in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Temperature at the start of the game 74 degrees, beautiful night, clear skies, no wind and should have an excellent ballgame tonight. (Franklin Panthers come into this game 5-2, 2-2 in the conference, versus the Smoky Mountain Mustangs who come in 4-2, 2-1 in the conference).  Franklin has the ball first to get the game started at their own 31-yard line, they moved the ball very well down the field on an excellent drive which culminated with a 3-yard pass from McGuire to Pollock.  Extra point was good. Franklin leads 7-0 with 6:36 left in the first quarter. 

Smoky Mountain Mustangs drove the ball down to the Franklin 2-yard line, where it is 4th & Goal with :34 left in the 1st quarter, and the Mustangs take a time-out. After the timeout, the Mustangs decide to kick a field goal which was wide left, no good.  End of the 1st Quarter Franklin Panthers 7 – Smoky Mountain Mustangs 0. 

After a few three and outs on either side, the Franklin Panthers end up kicking the ball back to the Mustangs giving them great field position at their own 45-yard line at 7:43 left in the 2nd Quarter.  Smoky Mountain runs the ball hard with #15 McNeely having a big, big half running the ball against the Panthers. He moves the ball down to the 19-yard line where McNeely promptly runs the ball up the middle for a touchdown.  Extra Point is good, game is tied at 7-7.

After the touchdown by Smoky Mountain, they kick the ball back to Franklin where Pollock runs the ball back to the 35-yard line where he fumbles the ball.  Smoky Mountain recovers and takes over with 4:06 left in the first half on their 35-yard line. One play after the fumble, the Mustangs promptly throw the ball over the top of the Franklin defense for 32-yards and a touchdown.  Extra point is good. Smoky Mountain Mustangs 14, Franklin Panthers 7. After the kick-off Franklin returns the ball to their 24-yard line to start the drive at 3:12 left in the second quarter.  After a few good runs, and a few short passes, and McGuire on a scramble, the ball is at the 50-yard line.  One play later, McGuire goes up top to Pollock for a 50-yard touchdown.  Extra point was good, and the score is tied at 14-14 with 2:02 left in the first half.

After the kick-off, the ball is at the 36-yard line of the Mustangs who resume their possession at that point. #15 McNelly runs the ball on 5 consecutive plays all the way down to the Franklin 2-yard line.  With 3:2 seconds left in the half, the Mustangs call a time-out for a final play of the half. Mustangs threatening.  The Franklin Panthers stop the Mustangs who try to reset and cannot, and Franklin  ends the half on a great defensive play and a great stand.  At half-time it is 14-14 great ball game on Senior Night.

After a 3 and out start for the Mustangs, they punt the ball back to the Panthers who are waiting on the 11-yard line.  After 3 runs with no success on a first down, the Panthers decide to punt the ball.  The center snaps the ball over Munoz’s head into the end zone where it culminates into a safety for the Mustangs which makes the score Mustangs 16 – Panthers 14 at 6:19 left of the 3rd Quarter.  Franklin decides to put the ball on the tee after the safety and kicks the ball deep after a great return out to their own 46-yard line and the Mustangs take over 1st and 10 after at that point.  After the kick and the great possession for the Mustangs, they march it down on 7 straight rushes by #15 McNeely who promptly runs it in from 15-yards out to add to the lead.  Extra point was good, making the score Smoky Mountain 23 and Franklin 14. 

Franklin receives the kick-off and Pollock runs the ball back to the 33-yard line where they start their 1st & 10.  After the Panthers take over on their 33-yard line, there is a quick screen which puts the ball up to the 43-yard line.  The very next play, Chris McGuire goes up top once again to Henley for 57-yards for a TD.  The Extra Point was good at 4:12 left in the 3rd quarter, the score is Smoky Mountain Mustangs 23 – Franklin Panthers 21. This is a great back and forth game.

Franklin kicks the ball back on a short kick and was returned by McNeely to their own 46-yard line where they resume their drive with four minutes left in the 3rd quarter.  The Mustangs start the drive and drive the ball deep into Franklin territory where the 3rd quarter ends with the scoreboard showing Smoky Mountain 23 – Franklin Panthers 21.

Starting the 4th Quarter saw several more runs by Smoky Mountain who drive the ball down to the 2-yard line. On a 2nd & 2, McNeely once again punches it in from 2-yards out to make the score Smoky Mountain Mustangs 30 – Franklin Panthers 21.

The Mustangs kick the ball back to the waiting Panthers where they set up a real nice return to their own 38-yard line, flag down, holding on the Panthers which moves the ball back to the 23-yard line where they will take over for the 1st & 10 at 9:58 left in the 4th Quarter.  First play for Franklin from their own 23-yard line, Chris McGuire throws the ball to #11 Adams, who promptly fumbles the ball giving the Mustangs excellent position at our own 35-yard line with 9:52 left in the 4th Quarter.  Smoky Mountain promptly takes the ball on 7 plays which culminates in a touchdown pass from Les to Byrd, extra point was good, which makes the score Smoky Mountain 37 – Franklin Panthers 21 with 6:58 left in the 4th Quarter.

Mustangs kick the ball back to the Franklin Panthers where they run the ball back to the 35-yard line where they will start 1st & 10 with 6:55 left in the 4th Quarter.  On the kick-off with the great return, there was a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct by the Smoky Mountain Mustangs which gives the Franklin Panthers an extra 15-yards starting the ball on the 50-yard line.  On 3 runs in a row, the Panthers go up top again with McGuire hitting Pollock again for a touchdown from 10-yards out.  It appears that Franklin will try a 2-point conversion to try and bring the score within 8 points.  6:13 left in the 4th Quarter, McGuire tries a Quarterback sweep and is promptly stopped on the 1-yard line.  With 6:04 left in the game, that makes the score Mustangs 37, Franklin 27. 

Franklin kicks the ball back to Smoky Mountain where they return the ball to the 25-yard line where they take over on 1st & 10 with 6:00 left in the ball game.  Smoky Mountain starts the drive the same way they have been running all evening long, with McNelly running on 3 runs taking the ball to the 39 Franklin yard line. On the very next play, McNelly runs the ball straight up the gut for a 39-yard touchdown, his 4th touchdown of the game.  The extra point was successful making the score Smoky Mountain Mustangs 44 and Franklin Panthers 27 with 2:35 left in the game. 

Franklin receives the punt after the Smoky Mountain touchdown with great field position starting 1st and 10 from the Franklin 43-yard line at 2:28 left on the clock.  Franklin drives the ball all the way down to the 5-yard line with a great combination of pass and run with :48 left.  On the next play McGuire gives the ball to Stiles who marches it down to the 1-yard line and fumbles the ball.  Smoky Mountain jumps on the ball and will take over possession at their 1-yard line with :48 seconds left.  After 2 plays, the clock expires, Smoky Mountain Mustangs defeat the Franklin Panthers 44-27.  

The culmination of this game on Senior Night was very rough.  McNelly, #15 from Smoky Mountain had a huge night running with 4 touchdowns and well over 180 yards rushing against the Panther Defense.  The demise of the Franklin Panthers on the night was turnovers and interior defense. On Senior Night the game ends in a sad way for the Franklin Panthers with the final score,  Smoky Mountain Mustangs winning 44 to Franklin Panthers 27.  The Franklin Panthers fall to 5-3, 2-3 in the conference and the Smoky Mountain Mustangs move to 5-2 with a 3-1 conference record. 

Chris McGuire is my player of the game where he showed once again his Senior leadership, throwing the ball well all night with 3 touchdowns and a dropped 4th touchdown pass late in the game.  Chris McGuire’s leadership and his commitment to win was shown all night, he will be missed next year from the Franklin Panther’s lineup.  

 

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