By Sean Dunlap
If a football victory can soothe a lot of wounds sustained in a tough gridiron season, then Franklin County’s 20-6 win over visiting Jefferson County last Friday night at Louie Mullins Memorial Stadium brought some much-needed prescription-strength healing for the Bulldogs.
The win helped FC break into the win column for the first time in the 2021 season, but, most importantly, evened the Dawgs’ District 7-3A record at 1-1 overall.
On the night, Franklin County rushed the football 46 times for 121 yards while going 2-15-0 through the airways for 49 yards.
Jefferson County, on the other hand, had only 35 rushing yards on 21 carries while going 11-27-1 in the passing department for 125 yards.
The teams combined for a total of 10 fumbles — the difference being FC coughed up the ball six times, but lost only one of those while JC put the ball on the turf four times and lost all of those to the Bulldogs.
In fact, two of Franklin’s scores were attributed to Tigers’ fumbles in the second half of the affair.
After a scoreless first half, the Bulldogs got their first big scoring opportunity with less than two minutes gone in the third quarter as Jefferson County opened the frame with possession of the football starting from its own 22.
In the series, the Tigers ran the ball for no gain and had two incomplete passes to set up a fourth-and-10 situation.
FC wrestled control of the ball away on a Tigers fourth down fumble and gained possession of the football at the 5 yard line.
With a first and goal, Bulldogs’ tailback Parker Marcengill took the handoff and raced into the end zone for the touchdown and the 6-0 lead.
He then attempted the two-point conversion run, but was stopped short of the goal line.
Afterwards, the teams traded possession before Jefferson County strung together a nine-play drive just over halfway through the third quarter.
The series was boosted by a 17-yard pass completion and a pass interference call on Franklin County midway through the drive.
With 4:18 showing on the clock, the Tigers ended what would be their only scoring drive of the night with a 20-yard run. The two-point conversion try failed, and the game was knotted at 6-all.
Franklin County immediately answered with a less-than-two-minutes series from its own 20.
Marcengill opened the drive with a 14-yard run before quarterback Va’Quez Rancifer went to the air and hit receiver Donovan Moore for a 41-yard strike across the middle of the field.
Facing first and 10 from the Tigers’ 25, Marcengill got the call again and this time rambled forward to near the 1 yard line.
Rancifer, on the ensuing play, called his own number and raced into the end zone with 2:26 left to play in the third frame.
Rancifer attempted a two-point conversion pass and the effort ended with an incompletion, but the Dawgs had retaken the lead, 12-6.
In the remainder of the quarter, JC fumbled twice and FC coughed up the football once, but it was the Bulldogs who best took advantage of the situation and made points out of the Tigers’ second miscue.
With a first and 10 from midfield, Franklin’s drive got an immediate boost when Marcengill was snatched down and JC was flagged for a horse-collar tackle that moved the ball ahead to the Tigers’ 35.
From there, Marcengill ran twice more for an eight yard pickup before Rancifer, on a fourth and two from near the 27, lumbered through the Jefferson County defense to pick up a first down at the 20.
JaMarlin Green came in as quarterback and finished the five-play drive by finding the goal line with his legs for another touchdown with 11:29 left to play in regulation.
Green then ran in the two-point conversion to open a 20-6 bulge for the Bulldogs.
Franklin County’s defense stiffened late to stop one Tigers’ drive on downs and then saw Moore, who was playing pass coverage, pick off a Jefferson County pass with 4:44 remaining to play.
The Dawgs were content to run the football and drain the rest of the time on the clock.
In its final series, FC drove from near midfield to as deep as the Tigers’ 5 before time expired.
Marcengill ran the ball four-straight times before Tyrese O’Neal and Rancifer continued carrying the mail to prevent Jefferson County from getting another shot at the football.
On offense, Marcengill led the way with 85 yards on 12 carries while O’Neal got 10 touches for 39 yards and Rancifer had 17 totes for 34 yards.
Rancifer, through the air, had two completions with both of those collected by Moore for a total of 49 yards.
Defensively, Jailon Brown led the way in tackles with eight as O’Neal finished with seven and Keyundre Felton, Xavier Rankin and Green each had six.
Moore had an interception, a fumble recovery along with one tackle while teammate Amarion Wilson had two fumble recoveries and a pair of tackles.
Rankin also had a fumble recovery and Jamal Coleman had a pass break-up.
This Friday, the Bulldogs travel to face Port Gibson’s Blue Waves with kickoff set for 7 p.m.