PCA holds off Franklin in playoff tuneup|[11/03/07]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 3, 2007

Porters Chapel is heading to the playoffs, but got a late Halloween scare before it got there.

The Eagles nearly squandered an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter, but hung on to beat Franklin Academy 24-19 Friday night in the regular-season finale at Eagles Field.

Senior running back Austin Barber provided the bulk of the Eagles offense with 20 carries for 211 yards and two touchdowns, while sophomore safety Colby Rushing led the defensive effort with two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

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PCA will travel to face Heidelberg in the first round of the MPSA Class A playoffs next Friday. Coach Randy Wright was not happy with his team’s performance in its tuneup game, however.

“It’s always good to go into the playoffs with a victory,” PCA coach Randy Wright said. “We need to do a better job of preparation in practice this week if we expect to beat Heidelburg next week.”

Barber got things going for the Eagles (8-3) in the first quarter. A Statue of Liberty play was called and Barber shook off several Franklin defenders en route to a 65-yard touchdown run. Jason Greer added a 27-yard field goal late in the second quarter to give the Eagles a 10-0 lead going into the half.

Porters Chapel’s second possession in the second half saw Barber break loose for a 55-yard scamper up the middle to make it 17-0.

Franklin (3-8) would not go quietly into the night however. Quarterback Nick Williams found Darren Collie in the end zone for a 17-yard pass cutting the deficit to 11 points.

Porters Chapel took the ensuing drive 64 yards down the field, capped off by a 3-yard run by senior lineman Matt Hall to push it to 24-6.

On the Eagles’ next possession, quarterback Matt Cranfield dropped back to pass from his own 15 and tossed up a screen pass intended for Barber. Instead, Franklin linebacker Adam Ogden intercepted the pass and raced untouched into the end zone, cutting it to 24-12 with just under 10 minutes to play.

After Porters Chapel failed to convert on fourth-and-1, Franklin seemed ready to pull within a touchdown on a 50-yard pass from Williams to Collie. Rushing caught Collie at the 2, stripped the ball loose and fell on it for a clutch turnover.

Franklin got the ball back at the PCA 42 following a punt, but Rushing saved the day again. He picked off his second Williams pass in the back of the end zone to thwart another scoring chance.

Finally, the Cougars got within a one score on their third try. Williams found fullback Lorn Roberts for a 5-yard touchdown pass, making the score 24-19 with just under three minutes to play.

Franklin got one more shot with 27 seconds left, but failed to pull out the win as Brad Pennington sacked Williams at midfield to seal the victory.