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Franklin Regional football looks to move on from disappointing loss

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Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
Franklin Regional's Charan Singh escapes the Highlands defense during the first half on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, at Franklin Regional High School.
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Franklin Regional football coach Greg Botta thought Highlands would present his team with a difficult test last week.

He got exactly what he expected.

“I knew it,” Botta said after Highlands beat the Panthers, 17-0, in their home opener last Friday night.

“It is what I expected. I knew what they did. They did a great job against us defensively. (Highlands coach Sam Albert) prepared his kids quite well, they kind of limited our offense and we just made a ton of mistakes on defense — didn't wrap (up ball carriers), and had too many personal fouls, too many penalties.”

Franklin Regional (2-1, 2-1 Greater Allegheny Conference) will look to move on from the loss when it travels to play Greensburg Salem at 7 p.m. Friday.

Botta said the loss would test the team's character.

Offensively, the Panthers were limited to 127 yards and four first downs against the Golden Rams (3-0, 3-0). But penalties — the Panthers committed 10, for 82 yards — especially hurt. An early personal foul penalty cost the team a chance to score, and the Panthers committed two other penalties on the first drive of the second half.

“You can't win games like that, especially (against) good-caliber football teams,” Botta said. “I think our kids learned a valuable lesson today, and now they've got to move on, forget about it and get ready for Greensburg.”

Defensively, Franklin Regional allowed Highlands running back Elijah Jackson to rush for 232 yards — 182 of which came in the second half.

“Elijah runs hard, and he got hit a couple times solid and came back up,” Botta said. “I can't give that kid enough credit. But we weren't watching our target, and that's what I preached all week long — keep your eyes on the target. But I can't take anything away from him. He's a heck of a running back.”

The loss to Highlands dropped Franklin Regional into a second-place tie in the Greater Allegheny Conference with Mars. The Planets will play at Highlands this week.

Meanwhile, the Panthers will face another test this week against Greensburg Salem (1-2, 1-2). The Golden Lions lost their past two games, but Botta said every team in the Greater Allegheny presents a challenge.

“They're all big, and I knew this conference would be fairly even,” he said. “There's not too many weak sisters, so week in (and) week out it's going to be a battle.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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