Roughriders’ ground attack too strong as Franklin falls 55-31

The fight was there, but the defensive stops weren’t. And so went Franklin High School’s football season Saturday night.

St. Marys Memorial scored on all nine of its possessions and piled up 451 yards on the ground in a Division III, Region 12 semifinal, securing a 55-31 triumph at Wayne’s Heidkamp Stadium.

“It hurts … it’s heartbreaking,” said Franklin junior Ryan Montgomery, who ran 19 times for 127 yards and a touchdown. “I hate it for the seniors. I think we gave it our all. They were just a little too much for us tonight.”

Braden White completed 21 of 27 passes for 255 yards and three TDs for the Wildcats, who finished 11-1 and still haven’t won a second-round game in 10 trips to the playoffs.

“I didn’t think we played up to our potential on either side of the ball, but we gave as much effort as we could,” said White, who ended the campaign with 26 touchdown throws and three interceptions. “It was a hell of a season. We played our hearts out the whole year, gave our all, worked our butts off. There’s not much more you can ask from a football team.”

Jared Kinzer caught two of White’s scoring tosses and Noah Kremer snagged one. Matt Schneider added a 25-yard field goal.

The Roughriders (11-1) threw just one pass all night, a 15-yard screen from Dustin Howell to Julius Fisher in the third period.

“They’re not very complicated, but they’re very good at what they do,” Franklin coach Brad Childers said. “They come off the ball like nobody we’ve seen, and we didn’t capitalize early on and left some points in the red zone.

“But in the grand scheme of things, what an amazing year. I’m disappointed for these kids and our coaches and our fans, but the thing we’ve got to hang our hat on as a football program is that Franklin kids do not quit. They’re going to stay in there until the last tick goes off the clock. I’m really, really proud of that.”

St. Marys’ Wing-T ground attack was ruthless and produced three 100-yard rushers: Eric Spicer (15 carries, 173 yards), Fisher (22 carries, 124 yards) and Sean Perry (11 carries, 100 yards).

“Our game plan was just to keep long drives going. The best defense against their offense is to keep their offense off the field,” Spicer said. “When you’ve got three all-league linemen on the offensive line, that helps a lot. They did a great job opening up holes all night. It’s pretty easy to run in the open field.

“We run an offense where the tiny details are very important. You’ve got to fake hard and everything has to move fast or it’s not going to work very well because you’re just running straight at people. You’re not going to finesse people necessarily in this offense. You’ve got to outphysical ’em.”

Fisher bulled his way to four touchdowns, while Spicer scored on a 65-yard run and a 95-yard kickoff return. Howell scampered 40 yards for a score, and teammate Gabe Vandever added two field goals and seven extra points.

The Roughriders led 31-10 at halftime.

“We’ve kind of simplified things is what we’ve basically done,” St. Marys coach Doug Frye said. “I guess I learned eight, 10 years ago when you hit this time of the year, you really just have to keep things pretty simple and get better each practice you go out.

“I thought Franklin was as much or more than we expected. Extremely athletic, extremely spirited, and they played with great zest. That was an undefeated team. They should be proud of their season and the way their kids played.”

The Wildcats tried to keep up, but the first-half hole proved to be too deep.

It was 41-17 early in the fourth quarter when White connected with Kinzer for a 35-yard touchdown, then the junior quarterback ran for the conversion to make it 41-25 and a two-possession game.

Franklin’s Eric Robinson then recovered an onside kick, but the Wildcats followed by giving the ball up on downs, and Fisher’s last TD with 3:49 remaining sealed the victory.

“We responded when it counted,” Frye said. “It was maybe a little too interesting for this guy’s heart, but it was a great win. I’m so proud of the attitude our kids have brought to practice and the work ethic and the little things that they’re doing.”

“We came from three years ago being 0-21 to now just going on this run,” said Spicer, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior. “We haven’t been here before, so our confidence just keeps building every single week. We’ve just got to keep the right attitude.”

Spicer accumulated 345 all-purpose yards, returning two kickoffs for 116 yards and two punts for 56 yards. His 95-yard kickoff return came midway through the second stanza after Franklin had shaved the deficit to 17-10.

“I just saw the wall bust open,” Spicer said. “Once I got through the first wall, it was pretty much all open from there. Then it just became a track meet.”

The Roughriders had a 466-448 edge in yardage, averaged 8.5 yards per carry and got an interception by Drew Jacobs. Montgomery converted 2 of 2 passes for 13 yards for Franklin, and Kremer caught nine balls for 95 yards.

St. Marys will face Trotwood-Madison for the regional championship next Saturday at Piqua.

St. Marys Memorial 10-21-7-17—55

Franklin 0-10-7-14—31

S: Gabe Vandever 31 field goal

S: Julius Fisher 4 run (Vandever kick)

F: Jared Kinzer 10 pass from Braden White (Matt Schneider kick)

S: Eric Spicer 65 run (Vandever kick)

F: Schneider 25 field goal

S: Spicer 95 kickoff return (Vandever kick)

S: Fisher 2 run (Vandever kick)

F: Ryan Montgomery 24 run (Schneider kick)

S: Fisher 12 run (Vandever kick)

S: Vandever 23 field goal

F: Kinzer 35 pass from White (White run)

S: Fisher 7 run (Vandever kick)

F: Noah Kremer 4 pass from White (Pass failed)

S: Dustin Howell 40 run (Vandever kick)

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