Panthers strong, versatile in 35-7 win at Franklin
By Jim Turner

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

A win over athletically adept Franklin-Simpson is always something to be cherished and relished. The ease with which the Russellville Panthers dispatched the Wildcats at James ‘Shadetree’ Matthews Field Friday is remarkable.

After giving up a much-to-easy touchdown to the Cats in the first quarter, Coach John Myers’ team scored the final 28 points of the game on the way to a 35-7 win.

With that victory, the Panthers improved their record to 6-0. Since they have a bye Friday and then play two of the lowest ranked teams in the state the following two weeks against district opponents Fulton County and Fulton City, the Panthers are expected to be 8-0 when they go to Mayfield, which is also 6-0 and plays those same two teams before facing RHS in a battle of what is considered the top to Class 1-A teams in Kentucky.

The Panthers are known for their speed and breaking off long plays for scores, but Myers’ team opened the game at Franklin by marching 75 yards on 15 plays, eating up 8 minutes on the clock in the process. A Barrett Croslin third-down pass to Dequan Beard and runs for first downs by Dustin Morgan and Croslin kept the drive alive. Croslin scored the touchdown on a 6-yard run, and Corey Wright kicked the extra point.

Franklin roared back, though, scoring less than a minute later on a 37-yard run by Isaiah Hall. The kick tied the game quickly. A run by Jerry Billups had picked up a first down.

After that, the home team hardly threatened again.

Russellville moved the ball late in the first quarter when Coco Darden handed off to Demarcus Hampton on a fake punt and when Zach Hendley caught a third-and-13 pass from Croslin, but Wright had to punt.

The go-ahead touchdown which proved to be the winning score came with 3:38 remaining in the half on an 8-yard run by Hampton. That drive took only four plays with the key a Croslin-to-Darden pass on the play before the TD.

The Panthers got an insurance touchdown early in the third quarter when Desmon Quarles recovered an opponent fumble for the fourth time and scored his sixth touchdown on just 27 carries this season. The kick failed, so RHS led 20-7.

The fourth RHS touchdown came after a 30-yard pass from Croslin to Lee McMurray with 4:28 in the third quarter. Croslin, who had picked up a first down on a fourth and three the play before, passed to Morgan for the two-point conversion.

“They have a very good quarterback,” F-S lineman Patrick Spears said of the Panthers.

Jecory Bard recovered a Franklin fumble to set up the final touchdown.

Hampton rushed for 119 yards in the game on 20 carries. Croslin rushed 12 times for 59 yards and passed for 99 yards on 7 of 9 accuracy. Darden rushed 4 times for 21 yards and caught 2 passes for 45 yards, including a touchdown reception. Quarles gained 22 yards on 7 carries, Morgan 18 yard on 4 tries and Beard 14 yards on 3 rushes. Hendly caught two passes with McMurray, Beard and Morgan catching one each.

Coach Gwynne Gaddie’s defense held Franklin to 101 rushing yards on 24 carries. Coach Doug Preston’s team didn’t complete a pass.

In the accompanying photos, all by Greg Cosgrove:

Top left: Russellville’s Coco Darden lowers his head against Franklin defender Logan Mallory as RHS quarterback Barrett Croslin watches.

Top right: Dequan Beard runs from Franklin’s Jerry Billups as Panthers Brian Clinard (67), Desmon Quarles (12), Jacob Procter (55) and Corey Wright (60) watch.

Bottom left: Demarcus Hampton runs as Corey Wright looks on. Franklin-Simpson defenders Payne Williams (12), Matt Moore (5) and Phillip Kitchens (6) are left behind.

Bottom right: Nick Robey of Franklin can’t catch Demarcus Hampton as Panther linemen Truston Clayton (61) and Dustin Morgan (34) watch.

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