The Franklin Admirals hosted the Pope John Paul II Knights in a close matchup on Friday that ended in dramatic fashion.

The Knights were without star running back Antwan Roberts, who injured his ankle last week against Christian Brothers.

Roberts, a three-star Wisconsin commit, is a serious weapon in the backfield, but the Knights found a way to create offensive firepower regardless.

Colin Cook finished the night with 165 receiving yards and a touchdown. Cook was efficient with his targets, grabbing six of them and averaging 27.5 yards per reception.

Kenny Minchey also had a good night under center. Minchey completed 13 of his 19 passing attempts and threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns.

“(We had) a few young players that came out and really played well,” said JPII head coach Justin Geisinger.

Minchey, a sophomore, filled the starting position for the Knights while senior Sawyer Watts sat out with an injury.

On the Knights’ first play from scrimmage, Minchey tossed to former quarterback Stephen Carter, who then found Cook on a 71-yard pass. Cook was brought down at the Admirals’ two-yard line. Pope John Paul scored on an Elijah Robb two-yard rush the next play.

Sophomore Chet Lax also got in on the scoring when he caught a 51-yard pass from Minchey and extended the Knights’ lead to 14-0. 

The Admirals responded with a big run from Grayson Bruce, who broke away for a 58-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.

With just under five minutes remaining in the first half, Connor Beavon’s pass was intercepted by JPII’s Fisher Donovan, setting up the Knights with great field position deep in Admirals’ territory. 

The Knights offense took over and ran three straight plays from the Admirals’ one-yard line. Robb was able to capitalize on the Franklin’s turnover and scored on a one-yard rush on fourth-and-goal, giving the Knights a 21-7 lead.

In the second half, Franklin’s defense began to show some resiliency. 

Down 14 at the half, Franklin knew they couldn’t give up big runs on defense. Adjustments had to be made.

When asked what adjustments were made at the break, Franklin’s Zak Luberda said the Admirals defense wanted to focus on “slanting harder into the gaps, making sure they can’t be mobile.”

The Admirals’ first offensive possession sparked the near comeback.

The Admirals offense converted two fourth-down conversions and Beavon scrambled for an 11-yard touchdown on the drive, closing the Admirals’ deficit to seven points, with 2:13 remaining in the third quarter.

Following Beavon’s rushing touchdown, the Knights offense took the field and Cook took over.

Cook secured three catches on the Knights’ first drive of the third quarter and capped it off with a 33-yard receiving touchdown from Minchey.

On the ensuing drive, the Admirals drove 65 yards but were intercepted by Rahkilon Williams, Beavon’s second INT of the night.

The Knights’ offense took over but was unable to drain enough of the clock. Franklin then took the ball back and scored with just under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Admirals WR Taylor Spierto came up big on Franklin’s final offensive drive and capped it off with a 27-yard receiving touchdown, reducing JPII’s lead to just one score.

With under a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, Franklin attempted an onside kick but was unable to recover it. The Knights drained the clock and dashed Franklin’s hopes of a second-half comeback.

Franklin fell to 2-4 overall while JPII improved to 5-1 overall. Both teams are back in region play next week as the Admirals host Centennial (2-4, 0-2). JPII will hit the road for Nashville to take on MBA (3-0, 2-0). 

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