The Tullahoma Wildcats dropped a nailbitter to rival Franklin County 17-16 in the region opener Friday night at Wilkins Stadium.
The Rebels got on the board first marching 63 yards down the field on the opening drive capping off an 11 play six minute drive off with a 25 yard touchdown pass from CJ Seals to Eric Jones.
After a first down the Cats opening drive stalled and were forced to punt. Franklin County’s second drive stalled and they lined up to punt deep in their own territory. The snap was over the head of the Rebel punter resulting in a safety to get the Cats on the board at 7-2 late in the first. Khani Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown to give the cats the lead with 1:35 to play in the opening period.
Franklin County went three and out and then Johnson returned the punt to the Rebel 37. The Wildcats offense stalled however and Grant Chadwhick was straight on but just short leaving the score 9-7 with 10:27 left in the half. High School rules make all balls kicked into the endzone a touchback so Franklin County took over at their own 20. The Rebels drove to the Wildcat 29 before having to settle for a 46 yard field goal from Louis Arellano to give them a 10-7 lead midway through the second.
After a Tullahoma punt and a Franklin County fumble ended a promising Rebel Drive the Cats when 74 yard in 1:12 to cap a 5 play drive with a 33 yard touchdown pass from Mason Bratcher to Ethan Hargrove to give the Cats a 16-01 lead with :20 seconds left in the first half. Franklin County opted to take a knee and head to the locker room down six.
Neither side scored in the third although the Wildcats came closest, passing up a 22 yard field goal to keep the offense on the field on fourth and goal from the five. The ensuing pass towards the right front pylon fell incomplete turning it over on downs with 4:13 left in the third.
After a Tullahoma punt on their first possession of the fourth Franklin County took over at their own 30 and proceeded to march down the field on a 10:20, 18 play,70 yard drive that was capped off with Jones’s second touchdown of the night to give the Rebels a 17-16 lead with :50 seconds to play in the game.
After a couple of passes got the Wildcats to midfield a pass interference penalty gave the Wildcats a final shot a a win as they sent Grant Chadwhick out for a second shot from 52. However this time the kick pushed wide left.
The win improves Franklin County to 1-3 overall and 1-0 in Region 5-5A. The Rebels visit Moore County next Friday.
With the loss the Wildcats drop to 2-2 overall and 0-1 in region play. Tullahoma travels to Lincoln County next week. Pregame 6:30 Kickoff at 7:00 on 93.9 The Duck.