By Carey Phillips
Will Frady scored four touchdowns and gained 172 yards in 14 carries, and Dustin Stephens had two TDs and picked up 196 yards in 16 attempts Friday as Smoky Mountain routed Franklin 42-6 at Carr Hooper Stadium/Babe Howell Field.
The Mustangs (8-3, 4-1) concluded the regular season as tri-champions of the Mountain Six Conference. They shared the title with Brevard and Pisgah after Pisgah’s 12-7 win over Brevard.
It’s SM’s first league football title since 1992. It’s also the first time the Mustangs defeated Franklin in consecutive seasons since 1992.
The victory margin matches the largest over the Panthers, set in 1988, which was Smoky Mountain’s first year of existence.
Franklin’s Evan Klatt carried 14 times for 74 yards, and Seth Price had 62 yards in 15 attempts.
Chris McGuire completed 13 of 19 passes for 95 yards. Devyn Blackburn had three catches for 45 yards.
After an exchange of punts to open the game, the Mustangs needed just three plays to go 47 yards. Stephens ripped off a 34-yard gain. After a penalty, Frady scored on a 15-yard run over the left side. Hunter Pressley kicked the first of his six extra points for a 7-0 lead with 7:21 to play in the first quarter.
Following another punt exchange, the Panthers drove from their 17 to the SM 19. Key plays were an 18-yard pass from McGuire to Blackburn and a 14-yard run by Klatt. On fourth-and-two, Charles Trentham missed a 36-yard field goal.
Two plays later, Frady broke free up the middle and raced 80 yards for 14-0 margin with 10:49 to go in the first half.
Following a punt, the Mustangs marched 79 yards in 10 plays. Stephens picked up 25 and Frady gained 24 to spark the drive. Frady scored from a yard out building the lead to 21-0 at the 2:48 mark.
Franklin nearly scored late in the half on a bizarre play. McGuire completed a short pass to Grant Adams, who fumbled. Blackburn scooped up the ball and ran down the sideline before being caught at the 5. The threat ended two plays later when Clayton Frady recovered Klatt’s fumble at the 2.
A shanked punt early in the second half gave SM the ball at the Panther 39. Frady had a 10-yard run and capped the five-play drive with a 17-yard run for a 28-0 lead with 2:41 remaining in the third period.
The Mustangs got the ball back when Rocky Magestro intercepted McGuire’s pass at the SM 29. Four plays later, Stephens raced 57 yards to the end zone making it 35-0 with 11:48 to go in the game.
Franklin was stopped on downs at midfield. Damon Figueroa gained 11 yards on the first play, and Stephens scored on a 39-yard run at the 6:30 mark. With a 42-0 lead, a running clock went into effect the rest of the game.
Franklin averted a shutout on Brayden Watts’ 3-yard run with 24 seconds to play. Klatt had gains of 10, 11 and 22 yards in the nine-play, 76-yard drive. With the running clock, time ran out before the Panthers could attempt an extra point.
Figueroa and Clayton Frady both had eight and a half tackles. Magestro followed with seven. Derrick Farmer, Cole James and Darien Bird all had five and a half.