By JUSTIN ANDERSON | Photos by STEVE WHEELER
For a game that started sloppy, Friday’s finish between the Independence Eagles and Franklin Rebels was nothing short of spectacular.
Trailing by four, the Eagles scored two touchdowns in the final 1:30 to take down the Rebels 34-20.
“We felt like the whole night, it was us stopping us, but in the end, we made the plays we had to in order to win the game,” Independence head coach Scott Blade said.
For the second straight week, senior running back Troy Henderson put on a show. Henderson scored two touchdowns — a 79-yarder, and a 42-yard run that sealed the victory.
The game featured a combined seven interceptions — four thrown by Franklin and three by the Eagles.
The first half started slow, as Franklin took a 14-6 lead into the locker room on a 3-yard scamper from senior quarterback Carter Hendry and a wild special teams play.
Up 7-6, Franklin was attempting a short field-goal on fourth down, when their holder, John Critchlow, couldn’t control the snap. He picked up the ball, evaded the Indy rush and found senior John Taylor in the back of the end zone for six. Franklin had all the momentum going into halftime.
The second half started off with both teams trading interceptions, but Troy Henderson got the Eagles right back in the game with a long 79-yard run up the middle of the Rebel defense to cut their deficit to one.
After a Franklin field-goal, Independence had a chance to take their first lead of the night, and that is exactly what they did. After Independence junior quarterback Nathan Cisco threw a couple of interceptions, Blade decided to make a change and put Kobe Kreid behind center.
It paid off, as Kreid took a designed quarterback run 60 yards for a touchdown to put Indy up 20-17 for its first lead of the night.
Franklin responded right back, as Carter Hendry took the Rebels down the field and scored on a 5-yard scramble for his second touchdown of the evening, putting Franklin up 24-20. Hendry was a key player for the Rebels all night in their triple-option attack, but the Eagles defense did a great job of limiting their big plays.
From then on, it was all Independence.
With 2:46 remaining in the game and 60 yards from the end zone, Cisco and the Eagles’ offense made a statement drive. All it took was a big run from Henderson, then Cisco capped it off with a 6-yard strike to junior receiver Kendrell Scurry to give the Eagles a 27-24 lead with 1:30 left in the game.
On the following drive, Independence’s Jevon Robertson picked off Carter Hendry, which all but sealed the deal for the Eagles. Henderson gave Indy an insurance touchdown on his 42-yard score to clinch the Eagles’ third consecutive game.
Even after a rough stretch of plays to start the second half, Indy quarterback Nathan Cisco put his mistakes behind him and moved on.
“Even after everything that went on before, my mindset was to just go out and have fun, and put my trust in Coach Blade’s play calls,” he said.
Independence moves to 3-2 on the season going into its bye week. Meanwhile, the Franklin Rebels enter next Friday’s road matchup at Hendersonville with a 1-4 record.