Bobcats scratch past FC, 31-14, in regular season gridiron finale

by Sean Dunlap

Despite a lightning fast start by Franklin County’s varsity football team to take an early lead in last Thursday’s showdown with Bogue Chitto, the visiting Bobcats prevailed in a 31-14 decision in the finale of the 2021 regular season for both programs.

Statistically, the teams were close in terms of offensive production as Franklin County rushed 27 times for 119 yards while going 8-17-2 through the air for 125 yards.

Bogue Chitto had 99 yards on 28 carries with an 8-16-2 passing performance for 158 yards.

The difference turned out to be four fumbles committed by the Bulldogs that stymied drives with at least one turnover as a result.

In addition, two touchdowns for Bogue Chitto came as the result of FC interceptions early and late in the affair.

The Bulldogs took the initial kickoff to start the game near their own 45 yard line — with the first play of the series an incompletion by quarterback Va’Quez Rancifer. Tailback Parker Marcengill was then stopped for no gain.

On third down, Rancifer unloaded a shot to receiver JaMarlin Green, who caught the pass and exploded for a 55-yard touchdown scamper with 10:34 remaining in the first quarter.

Marcengill punched in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 Franklin County lead.

The Bogue Chitto defense helped to narrow the margin as Bobcat defender Matthew Smith stepped in front of a Rancifer pass with just over five minutes remaining in the opening frame and returned the ball 60 yards for a pick-six.

Bobcats’ kicker Carson Price had his point-after kick attempt blocked, which helped keep Franklin County on top by a slim margin, 8-6.

Bogue Chitto slowly began to pull away — in large part due to two more scores before the intermission in the non-district contest.

The Bobcats capped a nine-play, 37-yard drive as Price successfully split the uprights on a 27-yard field goal with 4:42 left before the mid-game break.

Then, with 55 seconds remaining in the half, Bogue Chitto quarterback Colton Frith hit receiver Hunter Goebel on a 65-yard strike to wrap up a three-play, 69-yard drive.

Price tacked on the extra point to open a 16-8 bulge before heading into the locker room.

The Bobcats kept the game’s momentum on their side as Bogue Chitto strung together a four-and-a-half minute drive to start the third quarter.

The series ended when tailback Easton Sartin broke into the end zone from a yard out to successfully wrap up an eight-play, 53-yard drive.

Price’s extra point kick opened a 23-8 lead for the Bobcats with 7:30 left in the third.

Franklin answered with a 65-yard series spearheaded by Green, who carried the ball on five of the eight snaps in the drive. Marcengill also helped boost the series with runs of 11 and five — with the latter being the carry that pushed the ball across the goal line with 3:35 left in the quarter.

Green attempted the two-point conversion run and was stopped just shy of the end zone. The FC score cut Bogue Chitto’s lead to nine, 23-14.

The teams traded interceptions late in the third and early in the fourth — with FC’s Green picking off a Frith pass and then Bobcats capitalized by picking off a Rancifer pass.

That Bogue Chitto interception turned into points for the Bobcats, who scored on a 30-yard completion from Frith to Sartin with 3:24 left in regulation.

The Bobcats punched in a two-point conversion, which set the final margin of the game at 31-14 in favor of Bogue Chitto.

Green led the way for Franklin in terms of rushing — 11 carries for 84 yards and six catches for 91 yards.

Green was also 0-2-0 passing in the handful of times he played quarterback.

Tyrese O’Neal had 29 yards on six totes while Marcengill wound up with 18 yards on six carries.

Rancifer, who had a 8-15-2 passing performance in the game, also scrambled four times for -12 yards for the Bulldogs.

He connected through the airways with Jamal Coleman for 23 yards on a single catch and 11 yards on a catch by Donovan Moore.

Defensively, Green led the Dawgs with nine tackles, an interception and a pass break-up.

Marcengill finished with seven tackles while O’Neal accounted for six takedowns.

Franklin County is set to return to action on Friday, Nov. 5 and will host a Class 3A first-round playoff game against Hazlehurst set for 7 p.m., at Louie Mullins Memorial Stadium in Meadville.