By Chris Yow
FRANKLIN — Nearly every time the Franklin Admirals’ offense knocked on the door, Independence’s defense answered.
Bend, don’t break was the recipe for success for the Eagles on Friday night in a 21-7 Region 6-6A win on the road.
“Our defense just continues to get better every week,” Independence coach Scott Blade said. “We have some things we need to clean up, but we played a great team tonight.”
With the Admirals coming off a stellar performance last week against fellow Williamson County rival Summit, the Eagles came into the contest knowing the type of physicality they would see from their opponent.
“They’re very physical up front,” Blade said. “Not to take away from anyone else we’ve played, but they’re probably the best team we’ve faced this season.”
In the first quarter, Independence took advantage of a pair of short punts; the first sailed only seven yards, the second just 14. On the first play from scrimmage for the Eagles, quarterback Jaxson Campbell pump-faked and heaved a bomb down the left sideline to Calvin Wilson for a 62-yard touchdown.
On the next drive, Indy wouldn’t need to travel nearly as far, going 45 yards on eight plays and finishing with an 8-yard Campbell scramble to pay dirt.
Leading 14-0, the Eagles’ defense was on alert. The Admirals took the ball with 2:35 to go in the half, and marched down the field to the Indy 27-yard line. Expecting a pass, the Eagles’ defensive front was able to get pressure on Franklin quarterback Connor Beavon and forced a fumble that Indy would recover. A penalty flag for hitting the quarterback’s helmet during the rush negated the fumble, and set up Franklin with a first down.
On the next play, the Admirals used a bit of razzle-dazzle; Taylor Spierto took the reverse from Bryse Sparks and heaved a pass as he was leveled by a defender. On the other end was Carson Repass at the Eagles’ 3-yard-line, and somehow he came down with the ball. DJ Durham then scored on the very next play to cut the margin to 14-7 going into halftime.
That drive would be the only blemish on the Eagles’ record for the night. Indy held Franklin to 269 total yards, and just 108 on the ground. Two fourth-quarter interceptions, one by River Katina and the final one by Chase Harmon to ice the game, were difference-makers.
Despite Campbell’s first pass going for six, the senior struggled to get into a rhythm in the passing game until late. He finished with 178 yards on 12-of-28 passing. His legs, however, were the difference, as he rushed for 127 yards and a pair of scores on the ground.
“Jaxson is still dealing with some growing pains at quarterback, but when he has the ball, we feel like he’s going to get it done,” Blade said.
Independence (3-1) now holds an undefeated 2-0 record in Region 6-6A, as co-leader Brentwood — a 28-21 overtime winner over Ravenwood — looms in two weeks.
Franklin slipped to 2-3 (0-2).
Independence 21, Franklin 7
At Howard Gamble Stadium, Franklin
I – 14 0 7 0 21
F – 0 7 0 0 7
I – Calvin Wilson 62 pass from Jaxson Campbell (8:25) Sam Henke kick
I – Campbell 8 run (3:42) Henke kick
F – DJ Durham 3 run (0:11) Davis Long kick
I – Campbell 16 run (8:27) Henke kick
First Downs 19 19
Rushes-Yards 32-196 32-108
Passing Yards 178 161
Com-Att-Int 12-27-0 17-29-2
Penalties-Yards 5-40 5-45
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Independence – Jaxson Campbell 19-127, Ethan Pickering 4-25, Tre Hartwell 9-34
Franklin – Connor Beavon 7-31, DJ Durham 10-30, Bryse Sparks 13-24, Ashton Orton 2-3
Independence – Jaxson Campbell 12-28-1-0 178
Franklin – Connor Beavon 16-28-0-2 145, Taylor Spierto 1-1-0-0 16
Independence – Calvin Wilson 4-117, Brigham Morrical 4-31, Ty Lockwood 3-21, Tyler Kondra 1-9
Franklin – Taylor Spierto 7-84, Caleb Anderon 4-27, Blake Erby 3-23, Carson Repass 1-16, DJ Durham 1-6, Bryse Sparks 1-5