Franklin Regional routs Derry
After losing last week, Franklin Regional took off running for home.
Running backs Dane Brown and Paul Emanuele both eclipsed the 100-yard mark, and the Panthers' defense shut down Derry's ground game to clinch a home first-round playoff game with a 62-0 Greater Allegheny Conference win at home.
Brown had 123 yards and four touchdowns on six carries before getting the rest of his Senior Night off, and junior Emanuele led No. 8 Franklin Regional (7-2, 6-2) with 145 yards and two scores on 16 carries. Derry (1-8, 0-8) was held to minus-19 yards rushing, but quarterback Kyle Holmes was able to throw for 82 yards.
“Where was this team last week?” Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta said after his team bounced back from a 17-13 loss at Hampton. “That's the capability that this team has had all year long. Our kids came to play, and I had been telling them to do it in the right way, but take (frustration from the loss) out on Derry.”
The win put Franklin Regional in a three-way tie for second in the conference with Hampton and Knoch. Hampton defeated both teams and earned the second spot, while Franklin Regional gets third by virtue of defeating Knoch.
Under the new WPIAL Wild-Card System, the Panthers are assured of a home playoff game because they have six conference wins, and the eventual third-place team from the Big 9 Conference will have only five conference wins.
The landslide began early for the Panthers, as Brown went 31 yards for a score on Franklin Regional's first play. Franklin Regional scored touchdowns on six of its first seven drives, while its defense limited Derry to just three first downs in the first half, one of which came on the half's final play.
“That was just a better team than us today,” Derry coach Al Gaiardo said. “We had some kids that didn't play — our starting quarterback and a couple of receivers that had concussions — but even with that, Franklin Regional is just a great team.”
Though Brown only played into the second quarter, the Cornell recruit closed in on another milestone. Already the school's career leading rusher, Brown is now just 57 yards short of 4,000 in his career.
He approaches the mark in an injury-plagued senior season during which he has missed part or all of four games and has just 644 rushing yards. But Brown is nearly back to full strength at the right time of the season.
“I don't know how many yards he had tonight, but I just know he looked like himself out there,” Botta said.
“His forte is to sprint ahead, stop on a dime, then push off laterally and continue. When he was cutting before, he couldn't do it, but now he looks like himself again.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.