Mercer County survives thriller at Franklin County

Published 1:03 am Saturday, November 4, 2017


FRANKFORT — It was a game that lived up to expectations.

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Predictions had Franklin County as a half-point favorite over Mercer County in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs, and the outcome wasn’t decided until the last play of the game.

That was a desperation, multiple-lateral play by FCHS, which fell to the Titans 27-24 at Benny Watkins Field.

“It was a battle,” Mercer County coach David Buchanan said. “(FCHS coach) Eddie (James) has done a great job with those kids, and they had a great game plan. I was really impressed.”

And Buchanan was impressed with his team’s play, at times.

“I’m glad we found a way to win,” he said. “In spots we played well, but I’m really happy with how good our defense played in the second half. Our defense didn’t give up a point in the second half.”

Mercer (6-5) scored early on a 67-yard run by Jackson Lewis, and the Titans tacked on two more first-half touchdowns on a 57-yard reception by Trevon Faulkner and a 49-yard reception by Lewis.

Trailing 21-10 late in the first half, the Flyers got the last two of their three field goals from Owen Powell to close the margin to five points, 21-16, at halftime. Tre Simmons scored FCHS’ touchdown in the first half.

The score remained 21-16 at the end of the third quarter, but the Titans struck early in the fourth on a 5-yard run by quarterback Gunnar Gillis. The point-after kick failed, and the score was 27-16 with 9:31 remaining.

The Flyers answered quickly, with Simmons returning the ensuing kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown. Ameer Lee completed a pass to Dakota Bowen for the two-point conversion, making the score 27-24.

The Titans were forced to punt on their next possession but intercepted a tipped pass with 4:33 remaining.

Mercer turned the ball over on downs with 43 seconds remaining, but the Flyers weren’t able to move the ball into field-goal range before the clock ran out.

The Flyers finish the season at 5-6.

“I’m proud of our kids, and I’m proud of our coaches,” James said. “They came up with a great game plan. Take away three plays and we give up seven points.

“It was a great game plan, and we executed it to the best our abilities. That wasn’t enough tonight, but that happens.”

Mercer County (6-5) plays East Jessamine next week in the second round of the playoffs.