The Franklin County Rebels beat the Coffee County Central High School Red Raiders 42-20 at home Friday to open up their season with a victory.
The Rebels fell behind early in the second half, but they scored the final 28 points of the contest to pull away and pick up a decisive win.
Franklin County head football coach Cary "Mac" McCurry said that his team did a good job of overcoming adversity after falling behind and losing a senior to a major injury in the third quarter.
"It was a great statement about the character of this football team," McCurry said. "They overcame the adversity, fought back and then basically overwhelmed their opponent."
Neither team was able to score in the first quarter with both offenses missing on early opportunities to get on the board. The Red Raiders had a missed field goal in the opening quarter while the Rebels had a drive end on an interception in the end zone.
The first points of the day were scored with about eight minutes remaining in the first half as the Red Raiders broke through the Rebels’ defense to make it 7-0.
The offense of the Rebels got some help from the defense when Jamal Blackwell picked off a pass later in the second quarter. The turnover set up a touchdown run by Tahj Taylor to tie the score at 7-7 with two minutes left in the first half.
The game was tied at 7-7 at halftime.
The Rebels took their first lead of the game about two minutes into the second half when Dakota Waggoner ran into the end zone to make it 14-7.
The lead would not last long as the Red Raiders tied the game up three minutes later and capitalized on a fumble to score again shortly after. The second score in the quarter for the Red Raiders put the Rebels behind by a margin of 20-14.
The Rebels lost a key part of their offense midway through the third quarter when senior quarterback Riley Ingle left the game with an apparent leg injury. Isaiah Sisk stepped in as his replacement.
McCurry said that the injury is a season-ending one for Ingle, who has been a leader on the field for the Rebels.
"It's devastating to our young men. They love Riley Ingle and hated that it happened to him," McCurry said. "It may have been the most bittersweet victory that I have ever had."
The Rebels took the lead for a second time on the final play of the third quarter when Sisk ran the ball into the end zone to make it 21-20.
The fourth quarter would be where the Rebels began to create separation, starting with a touchdown run by Marquice Toliver with eight minutes remaining to make it 28-20.
The Rebels quickly got the ball back and Waggoner recorded his second rushing touchdown of the day to expand the lead to 35-20 with five minutes remaining.
An interception by Grant Faulkner immediately after would set up another touchdown run by Taylor to push the lead up to 22 points with four minutes left as the Rebels put the game completely out of reach.
The Rebels had a total of five interceptions in the contest as they were able to disrupt Coffee County’s passing attack throughout the game. Faulkner had two picks for the day with Toliver, Sisk and Blackwell adding one each.
Waggoner recorded 122 rushing yards to lead the Rebels, followed by Sisk with 77 rushing yards.
Toliver ran for 63 yards with Taylor close behind him with 57 yards on the ground.
McCurry said a major key moving forward will be preparing Sisk to step into his new role as the starting quarterback.
"(Sisk) certainly has the skills to do it. He just has to get brushed up on his quarterbacking skills and fundamentals," McCurry said.
With the win, the Rebels began their season with a record of 1-0.
They will next play Friday at Rockvale High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.