STORY BY GRANT BRICKER | PHOTOS BY DEB SCALLY PHOTOGRAPHY
Battle Ground Academy hosted Franklin Road Academy in a gritty, rain-soaked atmosphere at Guffee-Brown Stadium Friday night.
After a great start to the season, FRA looked to continue its win streak to five games in a row. For BGA it was all about getting back on track after the last three games have ended with a loss.
This game was very defensive from the beginning as neither team was really out of it at any point during the game. In fact, the biggest lead during the game would only be nine points.
FRA got the show started with a 53-yard touchdown from Kingston Garner making it 6-0 after a blocked extra point. This would be Garner’s only catch of the game, but he would have 53 of FRA quarterback Sean Casey’s 59 passing yards.
BGA then answered quickly with a big drive down the field that would end with an 11-yard touchdown down run, giving the Wildcats a 7-6 lead that would hold for most of the second quarter.
FRA then came back with a dominating drive where they would convert multiple times on fourth down to only come away with a 42-yard field goal from kicker Jack Norris to give the Panthers a two-point lead going to into halftime 9-7.
Both teams would only score one more time each in the last two quarters, with FRA scoring in the third and BGA scoring in the fourth.
FRA would score after an interception would place the Panther offense in prime scoring position inside the BGA 20-yard line. To no one’s surprise, FRA handed the ball off to its star running back Jeffrey Vercher for a two-yard touchdown run making it 16-7 as the momentum started to tilt in favor of the Panthers.
Then late in the fourth quarter when it seemed all hope was lost for BGA, a blocked punt was gifted to them by the special teams unit. BGA then took control of the opportunity and scored on a perfectly thrown jump ball from quarterback Nick Semptimphelter making the score 16-14 with 2:15 left in the game.
All BGA needed at this point was one more three and out from its defense to give themselves a chance to win the game. The intensity was high as BGA got what they needed with no timeouts let to spare. However, FRA put their offense on the field for four downs to try and secure the victory.
Then, in what seemed like a horrible miscue for FRA, there was a game clock issue that was interpreted like it was an FRA timeout. This was a dagger right in the heart of BGA fans as the clock would expire after the issue was fixed as FRA held on for a 16-14 victory.
For Vercher of FRA, things just keep getting better as he is having a fantastic year so far that didn’t stop with this game. He finished off the night with 16 carries and 126 yards rushing while finding the endzone once.
Vercher made sure to thank his offensive line for making all of the plays tonight possible.
“It wouldn’t happen without them, they are the first step to making those plays,” he said. “It’s just one block but that really makes a big deal.”
FRA coach Bill Whittemore shared his thoughts on the game.
“I love these guys.” Whittemore said. “They’re doing the right stuff, they’re saying the right things and it was a good win for us tonight.
BGA coach Jonas Rodriguez shared his thoughts on the game as well.
“FRA did a great job”. Rodriguez said. “I thought that our guys competed, and they just made more plays than we did.”
FRA moves to 7-1 on the year, while BGA continues its losing streak and moves to 4-3. FRA will play South Gibson from Medina, Tennessee next week. BGA will go up against Lincoln County from Fayetteville.