The Franklin County Rebels lost to the Columbia Central Lions 26-20 on the road Friday for their third loss of the season.
The Rebels trailed for a majority of the game and a late rally would come up a few points short as their record for the year moved back down to .500.
Franklin County head football coach Cary "Mac" McCurry said his team played well overall despite several key injuries on the defensive end.
"It was one of those games where we were up against the odds," McCurry said. "We went over there without four starting linebackers and our kids played lights out."
A miscue on special teams would set up the first touchdown for the Lions as they blocked a Franklin County punt and scored a few plays later. The touchdown made it 7-0 with nine minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Rebels got their first points on the board later in the quarter as Dakota Waggoner ran the ball into the end zone with four minutes remaining in the period. The ensuing point-after attempt would bounce off the uprights to keep the Rebels behind by a score of 7-6.
The Rebels drove deep into enemy territory late in the second quarter, but a fumble inside of the five-yard line would end their scoring attempt.
They trailed 7-6 at halftime.
The Lions expanded their lead late in the third quarter as they drove the entire length of the field before punching it into the end zone to make it 13-6.
The Rebels punted on their ensuing drive, and the Lions took the ball down the field to score another touchdown with nine minutes remaining in the contest. The score by the Lions put the deficit at 19-6.
The Lions nearly added more points to their lead with five minutes remaining, but a 22-yard field goal attempt would go wide of the uprights.
This would briefly shift the momentum in Franklin County’s favor as Ke’Andre Johnson connected with Na’Zaiyah Holman on an 80-yard touchdown pass moments later to make it 19-13.
However, the Lions would add one more touchdown to their lead with 1:29 remaining to make it a two-score game once again.
The Rebels had a fortunate bounce in their favor on the ensuing kickoff as returner Marquice Toliver fumbled the ball into the hands of teammate Jake Garner. Garner ran the ball the rest of the way for a touchdown to make it 26-20 with 1:11 remaining.
The Rebels would not get the ball back again as they took a loss by six.
McCurry said that the Lions were a tough matchup throughout the day due to their size and speed, but his players did an admirable job of hanging with them.
"It was the typical Columbia team. They're big, strong and fast," McCurry said. "That's probably the hardest we've played all season long because our backs were against the wall."
McCurry added that he expressed pride to his players after the game for the way they gave themselves a chance to win in a tough environment.
With the loss, the Rebels moved to 3-3 on the season and 0-2 in regional play.
They will next play Thursday at Summit High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.