Rebel defenders

A pair of Rebel defenders bring a ball carrier to the ground during a game Friday against Lipscomb Academy. The Rebels held the Mustangs scoreless in the second half of the 15-14 victory.

The Franklin County Rebels beat the Lipscomb Academy Mustangs 15-14 at home Friday for their fourth win of the season.

The Rebels shut out the highly-ranked Mustangs in the second half and scored eight points late to complete a 14-point comeback and pull off the upset.

Franklin County head football coach Cary "Mac" McCurry said that the win was one of the biggest in recent program history.

"(Athletic Director Don) Rhoton said after the Giles County win of last year that it was probably the biggest win in seven or eight years. I would have to say that this was a bigger win that that," McCurry said.

The Mustangs struck first in the contest as they marched down the field and scored with three minutes remaining in the first quarter to make it 7-0.

The Rebels were forced to punt on their next drive, and the Mustangs drove down the field again. They scored a second touchdown with one minute remaining in the opening quarter to push the early deficit to 14-0.

The Rebels got a bit of an offensive spark at the start of the second quarter with a fake punt that saw Mason Mitchell run for a first down.

Dakota Waggoner ran the ball 52 yards into the end zone shortly afterward to make it 14-7 with 11 minutes remaining in the first half.

The Mustangs drove deep into Franklin County territory late in the half, but their 25-yard field goal attempt would go wide to keep the deficit at seven points.

The Rebels trailed 14-7 at halftime.

The second half would be a defensive battle with both teams fighting for field position.

McCurry said that his defense did an excellent job of shutting down the Mustangs, who came in averaging more than 35 points per game.

"Our defensive coaches came up with a great gameplan," McCurry said. "You can't say enough about the determination of our young men. It felt like there was a sense of entitlement that our young men were facing, and I think it inspired them."

The Rebels brought the ball inside the 10-yard line of Lipscomb late in the third quarter, but a fumble would bring an end to the drive.

The Rebels quickly got the ball back after their defense forced a three-and-out, but a turnover on downs at the Mustangs’ 30-yard line would put an end to the series.

The Rebels finally broke through on their next drive as Tahj Taylor ran the ball into the end zone with 5:42 remaining on the clock.

Rather than settle for a tie game in the final quarter, the Rebels decided to go for the lead as they faked a point-after attempt and kicker Matthew Kreidenweis ran the ball in for a two-point conversion to make it 15-14.

"We definitely had the momentum, but I still didn't want to go to overtime," McCurry said. "I was afraid that we would renew (Lipscomb's) spirit if it went into overtime."

The Rebels made one more defensive stand to get the ball back with three minutes remaining, and their offense ran the clock out from there to secure the one-point victory.

The Franklin County defense limited the Mustangs to just 183 yards of total offense.

Waggoner ran for 110 yards on 17 carries and also caught a pass for 19 yards.

Taylor had nine carries for 43 yards while Marquice Toliver added 39 yards on 13 carries.

Isaiah Sisk completed five passes for the Rebels for 47 yards.

Mitchell caught three passes for 18 yards and carried the ball once for eight yards.

With the win, the Rebels improved to 4-4 on the season.

They will next play Friday at home against Shelbyville Central High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Rebels will need to beat Shelbyville to stay alive in the playoff race for their region.