Wildcats break in new field with a win

Friday night brought one of the most anticipated football games in the long history of Franklin County’s (and Brookville’s) program. For the first half, Rushville seemed to have designs on dimming the excitement of the inaugural contest on the new artificial turf at Wildcat Field.

After Keegan Bowles returned a Hunter Weartz punt to the house with just under eight minutes left in the first half, the Lions – coming in on a 10-game losing streak – built a 15-6 lead and forced a turnover on downs on FC’s next possession. But the first of three lost fumbles by the guests led to the Cats going on a 35-6 run to win by 20 at 41-21.

That said, the home team did put the first-ever points on the board on the new surface; sophomore quarterback Wyatt Bowling became the answer to a trivia question when he bounced a run out for a 37-yard touchdown with 3:26 to go in the opening quarter. The visitors started the game with a long possession and just before Bowling’s run, there were back-to-back turnovers via fumble. Rushville recovered a bad snap at its own 33-yard line, then gave it right back to FC at the 37.

Around a clock malfunction, the Lions marched 69 yards on 10 plays to take the lead. Harper Miller, seeing his first action this year in the backfield, converted a 4th-and-3 near the goal line and a play later scored from the 2 ½-yard line. Braydon Wilson made it 7-6 with the extra point.

A turnover on downs and punt stunted the game’s next two drives. FC also had to punt after a three-and-out and Bowles followed his blockers into the end zone after nearly touching the turf with a knee upon the punt reception.

“Rushville is better than they’ve been in recent seasons, they’ve got some players,” FC coach Wes Gillman complimented. “That was evident on film and their first two weeks with close losses that could’ve gone either way.”

The Cats’ immediate answer was a turnover on downs, but on Rushville’s next snap Blake Stephenson returned a fumble 27 yards to the Lions’ 21. On 4th and a long 4, Bowling pitched an option to senior Jared Moore to move the chains. One snap later, Moore went in from 10 yards out.


The teams traded punts. With a couple completions by Lions’ QB Nick Jarman, the guests got down to the FC 5 with 6.6 seconds before half. Coach Isaac Sliger called timeout and still having one in his pocket, elected to run fullback Sam Pavey on the next play. The Cats’ defense bowed up and stopped him with inches to go. A timeout was called at 2.7; once again Pavey’s number was called and again he was denied with a half-ending goal line stand.

It was all FC when play resumed. The first drive went 68 yards on nine plays, with Bowling rushing for a 7-yard capper. The key play was a completion to Seals on 4th-and-5. Bowling also ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 20-15.

After a turnover on downs, the Cats went back to work from their own 21. Pavey sacked Bowling to set up a 3rd-and-long, but the QB regrouped and hit Seals across the middle at the FC 45; the junior took it down to the Lions’ 32 and a horse collar tackle put the ball at the 17. Moore carried for a 1st at the 7 and toted it in from there for the TD. Weartz’s kick put FC up by a dozen.

On Rushville’s second play of the next series, a pass was completed for an apparent first down, but another fumble landed in FC’s lap. Moore rushed for 28 yards to end the quarter and got the rock five more times ahead of Bowling’s third TD (14 yds.). With just under nine minutes left, the writing was on the wall for the Lions at 34-15. Kaden Welch relieved Moore after a Rushville punt and kept up the ground attack with a 47-yard score. With FC tagged for an unsportsmanlike call after the TD, the Lions had a short field and Jarman connected with Chase Woolf for a long TD.

RCHS (0-3) visits Batesville Friday.


First Quarter 

FC – Bowling 37-yard run, 3:26. Kick blocked.

R – Miller 2-yard run, :36. Wilson kick.

Second Quarter

RBowles 69-yard punt return, 7:54. Woolf run.

FC – Moore 10-yard run, 2:04. Kick failed.

Third Quarter

FC – Bowling 7-yard run, 6:55. Bowling run.

FC – Moore 7-yard run, 1:46. Weartz kick.

Fourth Quarter

FC – Bowling 14-yard run, 8:47. Weartz kick.

FC – Welch 47-yard run, 2:08. Weartz kick.

R – Woolf 55-yard pass from Jarman, 1:49. Kick blocked.

Rush – Rushing: Miller 13-76, Pavey 5-14, Eakins 1(-4), Jarman 4-0. Passing: Jarman 13-23-155. Receiving: Eakins 6-41, Woolf 4-84, Wilson 2-29, Drew McKee 1-1. (Unofficial)

Franklin Co. – Rushing: Moore 24-130, Bowling 25-158, Welch 3-63. Passing: Bowling 5-10-94. Receiving: Seals 4-90, Carter Dozier 1-4. (From MaxPreps)

Total yards: FC 445, RC 241

Rushing: FC 351, RC 86

Passing: FC 94, RC 155

1st downs – FC 15, RC 10

Penalties – FC 10-60, RC 9-76.5

Fumbles/Lost – FC 1/1, RC 3/3

Photos provided by Red Caboose Photography
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