Tony Franklin rushed for 306 yards and three touchdowns, spearheading Bedford St. Peter Chanel to a 28-7 victory.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CANTON -- Dan Yeagley knew it was coming.
The South Range High football coach knew Bedford St. Peter Chanel was going to score using the big play.
"They're a home run team," Yeagley said of Chanel. "We said that they were going to bust one. You can't get your heads down. You've got to keep on playing."
South Range did. Tony Franklin did, too.
Franklin rushed for 306 yards and three touchdowns to lead Chanel to a 28-7 victory over South Range in a Division V regional final Friday at Canton Central Catholic Stadium.
A University of Virginia recruit, Franklin scored on runs of 57, 65 and 26 yards to key Chanel's offense.
"He's fast and he has good moves," Yeagley said of the 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior. "Besides that, he has a great offensive line in front of him and a tremendous blocker with his fullback."
Playmakers: Chanel (13-0), which lost in the state title game last season, looked to its playmakers in the first half to take a 14-0 lead.
Franklin broke loose for a 57-yard touchdown run on the Firebirds' first play, which came with 10 minutes, 47 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Franklin tore through the Raiders' defense for 130 first-half yards. He reached 100 yards on his sixth carry.
"We couldn't simulate his speed in practice," Yeagley said. "He was off and running. He's a big-play person. He's been that way all year."
Senior Jason Perry added Chanel's other score in the first half, when he returned a punt 91 yards for a touchdown at the outset of the second quarter.
"We played half-decent defense except for those two plays," Yeagley said of the first half.
Chanel could have added to its first-half lead, but it missed two field-goal attempts -- from 46 and 39 yards.
Best drives: South Range's best drives of the first half came in the second quarter when it reached Chanel's 43- and 40-yard lines, respectively, but a sack of quarterback Jim Sanders' and a delay of game penalty prevented the Raiders' push.
"The key for us was our first drive of the third quarter," Chanel coach Bill Powers said of the drive, which lasted eight plays and ended in a 27-yard missed field goal.
"It took six minutes off the clock, and we started wearing them down," he said. "That's what we're capable of doing."
Still, South Range followed with an impressive long drive of its own (13 plays), but it ended at Chanel's 22 when the Raiders couldn't convert on fourth down.
"I'm proud of our defense," Powers said of a unit that shut out Wellington 35-0 last week and sacked Sanders five times Friday. "That's two weeks in a row they've stepped up and played huge."
Johnson stars: One of the highlights for South Range (12-1) was the play of senior running back Brad Johnson, who rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown while helping to fill the void of the injured Jeff Johnston.
Johnson's touchdown culminated a 13-play drive with 3:58 remaining in the game, cutting the South Range deficit to 21-7.
Raiders freshman Ben Johnston recovered junior Jon Styer's ensuing onside kick, but Sanders' pass on the first play was tipped and intercepted, giving Franklin one last shot to score his final touchdown.
Sanders completed 4-for-14 passes for 53 yards, with two interceptions.
"These seniors have done a lot," Yeagley said of his team. "Twelve wins, two playoff victories, [Inter-County League] champions. They did a lot of amazing things."