STORY AND PHOTOS BY RUSSELL VANNOZZI
Thursday’s game between Battle Ground Academy and Franklin Road Academy quickly became a turnover fest.
However, it was the Wildcats that were able to limit their mistakes and emerge with a 14-3 victory over the Panthers in Nashville.
BGA forced six turnovers, including four interceptions and two fumbles, and kept FRA out of the end zone. Neither team scored a point in the second half.
“We didn’t executive very well,” FRA coach Bill Whittemore said. “Our defense played tough and kept us in the game.”
BGA’s normally-prolific offense was subdued by the Panther defense. The Wildcats still managed 298 yards of total offense, 94 of which came from junior tailback Kaleb Seay.
“Sometimes the stats don’t look as pretty, but I thought we capitalized on some things,” BGA coach Roc Batten said. “We have to clean up the penalties – we had too many miscues.”
Wildcat quarterback Nick Semptimphelter was responsible for both BGA touchdowns. He ran for an 11-yard score with 3:52 remaining in the first quarter, and he later tossed an 18-yard touchdown strike to Antonio Stevens with 1:35 left before halftime.
Semptimphelter finished with 154 yards on 17-of-28 passing. He was also picked off by FRA’s Riley Speed and Kingston Gardner.
“Playing up on The Hill isn’t easy for quarterbacks sometimes, in terms of the wind,” Batten said. “Nick kept his composure and was smart with the ball.”
FRA’s lone tally came on a 30-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Jack Norris in the second quarter.
“Our guys would have liked to play a bit better,” Whittemore said. “We have to make plays when the opportunities are there.”
BGA (7-2) limited FRA to just 211 yards of total offense. FRA senior RB Brogan Wilson finished with 77 yards on 25 carries, while quarterback Sean Casey threw for 110 yards on 13-of-28 passing. Speed had four catches for 36 yards.
The Panthers (5-3) tried to make a comeback late in the game, but four consecutive runs from Wilson were stopped at the goal line. BGA linebacker Teddy Holloway tackled Wilson just inches short of pay dirt on fourth down, sealing a 14-3 victory in the final minutes.
BGA has reeled off three straight wins after back-to-back losses to CPA and Evangelical Christian in mid-September.
“We talked after the CPA and ECS [losses] and asked, ‘Who are we?” Batten said. “’Can we play for each other?’
“Our model for this year has been family and playing for your teammates.”
FRA will host Hickman County next Friday, while BGA has the week off before it hosts Lipscomb Academy on Oct. 26.
“I think our guys believe in themselves, and I think they want it,” Whittemore said. “Hopefully we can use this [loss] as some motivation to propel us to the next step.”