LITTLE ROCK — It was the Sam Franklin show on Friday night at Quigley Stadium.
Franklin, Little Rock Central’s junior running back, ignited his offense in the first half, both on the ground and through the air, helping the Tigers sprint to a 62-0 victory over the Rogers Heritage War Eagles.
Franklin’s speed and ability to bust open big plays were on full display. All night long, War Eagles defenders had no answer for him or the rest of the Tigers’ offense. Franklin rushed for 128 yards and three touchdowns and had another 54 receiving yards and a touchdown. All four of his scores came in the first half.
“I have to thank my offensive line,” Franklin said. “They work hard. We always do it every practice. Tight ends too. I love all my players. I love the team that we have.”
Hardly anything went right for Heritage (0-2). The War Eagles were dominated at the line of scrimmage, the rushing attack was shut down, they turned the ball over twice and a change in quarterback early in the first half from junior Jeb Brown to junior Dreagon Blackwell wasn’t able to generate a spark.
“At the end of the day, they were bigger, faster, stronger, better coached and the only chance we had was to be perfect with our blocking schemes and our pad level, and we weren’t,” Heritage Coach Steve Hookfin said.
After receiving the opening kickoff, Heritage sophomore running back Ethan Farris fumbled the ball on the return at the Tigers’ 18. Three plays later, Franklin was getting his showcase started with a 9-yard touchdown run to give Central a 7-0 lead just a minute and six seconds into the game.
Central (2-0) scored on its next two possessions, thanks to an 18-yard touchdown run by Franklin and a 2-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Lawson Gunn to senior receiver Johnnie White, and the Tigers held a 19-0 lead after the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Central was once again deep in Heritage territory and faced a second and goal from the 1-yard line. But Central fumbled the snap and the War Eagles recovered the ball at the 3 with 11:38 to play before the half.
It was about the only thing that went right for Heritage all night.
The War Eagles’ next drive stalled after their offense couldn’t convert a 4th and 1 at their 42. Central took over, and two plays later, Franklin was racing past War Eagles defenders again for a 41-yard touchdown run, giving the Tigers a 26-0 lead with 8:10 left in the second quarter.
Central led 40-0 at the break after two more touchdown passes by Gunn — one went to sophomore tight end Omari Murdock for 18 yards, and the other was a screen to Franklin, who took it 46 yards to the house.
With a running clock in the second half, the romp continued. The Tigers’ defense continued to shut down Heritage’s offense, and Central’s offense stayed hot, adding three more touchdown passes.
”I thought it was a good night,” Central Coach Kent Laster said. “I thought we executed, I thought we ran the ball, and when we threw it, we did a good job in the passing game.”
LITTLE ROCK CENTRAL 62, ROGERS HERITAGE 0