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Franklin Regional rides defense past Knoch

Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Knoch quarterback Dakota Bruggeman is sacked by Franklin-Regional's Adam Mihochi in the second quarter at Knoch Stadium in Jefferson Township on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012.

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By George Guido
Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012, 10:46 p.m.

A strong defensive effort by Franklin Regional resulted in favorable field position that led to three Panthers touchdowns in a 23-13 Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference victory over Knoch.

Led by defensive captain Carter Henderson, who came into the game with 63 tackles, the Panthers throttled the Knoch offense on numerous occasions, holding the Knights to a pair of touchdown drives.

No. 6 Franklin Regional (5-1, 4-1) is one-half game behind Mars for first place. No. 9 Knoch, still in the playoff hunt, fell to 5-2, 4-2.

“Field position's a big part of this game,” Knights coach Mike King said. “That's something we've got to try to fix. You can't give a short field to a team like that.”

Knoch fans and others learned of the death early Thursday of 2007 all-state running back Tim McNerney.

The Washington & Jefferson student-athlete died in what authorities are calling a homicide in downtown Washington.

Knoch coach Mike King made several pre-game remarks over the public address system before asking for a moment of silence in front of a large crowd at Knoch Knights Stadium.

Knoch went in front, 7-3, when Ben Tackett, operating out of the wildcat, scored from 2 yards to culminate a 72-yard drive.

The Panthers took the lead after getting favorable field position at the Knoch 37.

On the third play of the series, Charan Singh made a leaping 24-yard touchdown catch from Nico Lodovico.

Franklin Regional put the game away in the third quarter with two touchdowns in a five-minute span. Both scoring drives again began with favorable field position.

The first, from midfield, led to a 29-yard touchdown pass from Lodovico to Singh, who caught six passes for 154 yards.

“Coming out and scoring right away in the third quarter, I thought that was big,” Panthers coach Greg Botta said. “They couldn't move the ball, we broke their momentum, and we scored.”

Singh's 41-yard punt return to the Knights' 43 set up the other touchdown. Eight plays later, Lodovico, on fourth-and-goal at the Knoch 3, got a pass over two onrushing Knights linemen and found Adam Mihoci in the end zone to put the Panthers ahead, 23-7.

“They can throw the ball, that was the difference tonight,” King said. “Hats off to that receiver (Singh), he's really good. They beat us on some big plays, and that tipped the scales.”

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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