Football - Franklin Regional vs Norwin
Big Plays Power Franklin Regional to 37-29 Win over Norwin
Senior receiver and kick returner Ayden Hudock and junior quarterback Chase Lemke racked up career-best numbers as the Franklin Regional Panthers held off a late-charging Norwin Knights team for a 37-29 win on Friday, October 6, at Panther Stadium in Murrysville.
Hudock, who had five catches for a career-high 168 yards, scored the first four of the Panthers' five touchdowns. Lemke, his partner on the throwing end of the aerial assault, notched a career-best passing mark with 247 yards on 8 completions.
Hudock put the Panthers on the board on the first play of the game, as he took the opening kickoff and bobbed and weaved through the Norwin coverage team for a 92-yard touchdown. Joey Bayne added the extra point on what would eventually become a 5-for-5 PAT night for him.
After Bayne booted the ensuing kickoff into the endzone, Norwin wasted no time answering the Panthers with a big play of their own. A quick toss from quarterback Tristyn Tavares to Luke Denny turned into an 80-yard touchdown sprint for the Knights. The PAT kick was no good, and Franklin Regional led 7-6 with only 30 seconds elapsed in the game.
A long Lemke to Hudock pass completion, combined with a ground game featuring Kyle Dupill, set the Panthers up for their second score, a Lemke to Hudock toss to the back pylon from 6 yards out. The first quarter ended with Franklin Regional leading 14-6.
Lemke hooked up with Austin Kerns over the middle on the first play of the second quarter for an apparent Panthers touchdown, hovever, it was called back on a penalty. But that turned out to be a temporary reprieve for the Knights as Lemke went back to Hudock on the next play, this time for 56 yards. The pair hooked up once again for the hat-trick with 2:33 left in the first half as Hudock beat coverage to haul in Lemke's touchdown toss from 58 yards away. The half ended with the Panthers on top 28-6.
Norwin, with recent history as a second-half comeback team, got back on the board as Tavares used his feet to score on a 15-yard run late in the third quarter. A Tavares to Michael Crnkovic 2-point conversion pass made the score 28-14 going into the fourth quarter.
Franklin Regional answered just 12 seconds into the final frame when Lemke tossed his fourth TD pass, a 45 yarder to Austin Kerns, and the Panthers' lead was 21 points. But Norwin wasn't done fighting back. Tavares, who was 10-of-33 passing for 292 yards on the night, unloaded a 79-yard bomb to Jackson Pons just 28 seconds later. Evan Pfeifer's kick made the score 35-21 with 11 minutes to play.
A potential fifth Ayden Hudock touchdown was called back because of a penalty, and the Panther's offense stalled near midfield. Enter kicker Joey Bayne to pin the Knights at the 2-yard line with a booming punt. It turned out to be a key play in slowing the Norwin comeback, as Juliano Marion tackled Tavares in the endzone for a safety. Norwin managed to score again with only 2:36 remaining in the game as Tavares carried it in from a yard out, and they converted the two-point play on a Tavares to Denny pass play. But Franklin Regional recovered the ensuing onside kick and held off Norwin in the final seconds to win 37-29.
Next up for Franklin Regional (5-2, 2-1) is a conference battle at Hempfield Area on 10/13. Currently tied with Penn-Trafford for second place in the Class 5A Big East Conference, a win at Hempfield, coupled with a Penn-Trafford win over Plum next Friday, sets up a season ending battle for an automatic playoff spot between the Panthers and the Warriors. Norwin (2-5, 1-2) faces a tough non-conference test next week at North Allegheny, before finishing the season with home conference games against Gateway and Hempfield.
Follow this link for a full gallery of action photos from this game, available for purchase or social media sharing.
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