Franklin Regional gets key stops, tops Knoch
As if motivated to top its band's theatrical halftime show, Franklin Regional upped the entertainment value of its own performance in the final two quarters Friday night at home against Knoch.
The Panthers (5-1, 4-1), who gained just 86 yards and allowed 122 in the first half of the Greater Allegheny Conference game, possessed the ball for about eight minutes in the third quarter of their 28-0 win over the Knights (3-3, 2-3)
Mixing a multi-back run game with play-action passes, Franklin Regional chipped away at Knoch, which watched its comeback hopes diminish with two fourth-quarter interceptions, the first of which Charan Singh returned 27 yards for a touchdown.
“That's usually when we come out and find our strong point, the third and fourth quarters,” junior running back/linebacker Brett Zanotto said. “It was a little frustrating (in the first half). We had to bunker down, fix things, look at our reads. It worked out.”
Franklin Regional, ranked No. 8 in Class AAA by Trib Total Media, led 7-0 at halftime, received the second-half kickoff after their band cleared a “Jeopardy!” set off the field and drove 63 yards for a touchdown. The Panthers gained 42 of those yards on the ground, a tactic that set up their play-action pass on third-and-goal from the 5. Singh bootlegged away from his blockers and tossed the ball to a wide-open Casey Colagrande in the flat.
“I buzzed the offensive coordinator's ear because we have special plays when it's third-and-goal,” Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta said. “When you're an offensive coordinator, you like what got you there, but (Anthony Botti) has a great mind, and he called the right play.”
Singh finished with 108 yards and two touchdown throws, the first of which was a 39-yard toss to Colin Jonov in the second quarter. He almost had a third touchdown, but Jake Lauer fumbled just before the goal line and out of the end zone for a touchback.
Three plays after the fumble, Singh had the pick-six to swing momentum the other way.
Excluding the opening touchdown, neither team reached the red zone in the first half. Knoch came the closest, as it drove to Franklin Regional's 24 with 50 seconds remaining in the half, but a 2-yard loss on third down and a false start on fourth down doomed the drive.
A false start during Knoch's first drive of the third quarter also proved costly, as the Knights went from second-and-7 at Franklin Regional's 27 to second-and-12. They reached the 22 before turning the ball over on downs.
Presnap penalties troubled both teams. Knoch went offsides three times and had three false starts. Franklin Regional was hit with three false starts and two offsides calls.
Knoch's Cody Milsom, who carried the ball as a running back and a wildcat quarterback, finished with 21 carries for 86 yards. Quarterback Dan Farinelli completed 6 of 12 passes for 67 yards.
“Our game plan was to run the football and establish ourselves on the ground, and I thought we did that pretty well,” Knoch coach Mike King said. “I don't think the scoreboard reflects the effort of our kids, the courage of kids and their resolve to try to win a football game.”