The term heartbreaker is often overused in sports.
But it fits appropriately for what happened to the Red Raiders Friday night.
With only a few seconds left on the clock and time ticking away, Franklin County quarterback CJ Seals hit Eric Jones on a wheel route down the sidelines for a 68-yard score with only 6 seconds remaining on the clock to give the Rebels a 27-20 win in the opening game of the 2022 football season at Carden-Jarrell Field in Manchester. (A GAME YOU HEARD LIVE ON THUNDER RADIO. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE FIRST HALF REPLAY ||| CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SECOND HALF REPLAY).
The Raiders had one last crack at a score after an unsportsmanlike penalty on Franklin County on the ensuing kickoff. But CHS quarterback Cole Pippenger’s pass was batted down at the goal-line on an untimed down.
It ended what was an up and down night for the Raiders.
Coffee County led 20-17 midway through the fourth quarter on a 6-yard rumble and score by senior Konor Heaton.
But the Rebels tied it up at 20-20 with 1:54 to play on a 23 yard field goal by Jon Askins with 1:54 to play- his second field goal of the night.
Coffee County couldn’t get the offense going and had to punt back to the Rebels, setting up the game winning score when it looked like overtime was inevitable.
Big plays were part of the success for the Rebels.
After Coffee County went three and out to start the game in only took Franklin County 8 plays to score on a 20-yard run to take an early lead. Coffee County eventually tied the game at 7-7 on a 13-yard Heaton run with 11;04 to play in the first half, then got the ball back and scored again after a perfectly placed kickoff by Manny Gonzales. Pippenger connected with Tyler Martin for a 23 yard score and the Raiders led 13-7 after a missed extra point.
Heaton led the Raiders on the ground with 22 touches for 91 yards and a pair of scores. Pippenger rushed for 41 and was 7-14 through the air for 103 yards and a score.
Travis Martin caught four passes for 60 yards and Jahlin Osbourne had a catch for 39 yards down the sidelines for Coffee County.
The Raiders were outgained by nearly 200 yards. Unofficially, the Rebels finished with 426 yards of offense to Coffee County’s 233. Manny Scott led all rushers with 157 yards on 18 rushes. Rebel quarterback CJ Seals was 13-of-22 for 217 yards.
Despite big plays by the Rebels, the CHS defense buckled down most of the night. Franklin County got inside the 2 yard line with a second down and short and the defense pushed back, forcing a field goal. Then again with less than 2 minutes to play, the Rebels had reached the Raider 5 yard line but the defense forced a field goal, which tied the game at 20-20.
Heaton was named Sir Pizza Player of the Game.
The Raiders fall to 0-1 with the loss and will travel to Tullahoma (1-0, win over Shelbyville) for the 97th annual Coffee Pot rivalry next Friday, Aug. 26. That game will be broadcast live on Thunder Radio – beginning with the Friday Night Thunder pregame show at 6 p.m.