In a battle of District 1-6A teams, the Americas Trailblazers edged out the Franklin Cougars 38 to 35, thanks to second half domination by the ‘Blazers.
Both teams began the game exchanging touchdowns, as Franklin quarterback Brandon Mueller and Americas running back Joshua Fields played ‘dueling touchdowns’ runs in the first quarter.
“Definitely we controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and when you control the line of scrimmage, you control the game,” Americas head coach, Patrick Melton said. “We had 259 rushing yards in the first half, that’s almost unheard of. The offensive line took over and the defensive line took over when it was time to.”
The game was tied at 14 after one quarter of play, then the game slowed down as only three points were scored in the second quarter with Americas hitting a 23-yard field goal before the half.
Fields rushed 27 times for 156 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first half, countered by Mueller of Franklin who kept the ball eight times for 116 yards and two touchdowns of his own; but it was Americas’ offensive line who would continue its dominance in the second half.
“It feels good, my o-line opened up big holes for me, I just kept on pushing to get the win,” Fields said. “We just wanted to pound the ball, impose our will on them, make them quit.”
“It feels good knocking out Franklin,” Fields added. “We have to worry about Coronado next, one week at a time”
It was in the second half that the Trailblazers jumped to a 31 to 14 lead after quarterback Eric Foster added two rushing touchdowns of his own. The offensive line also helped Foster to a big day, adding 212 rushing yards, on top of his two scores.
“In the third quarter we came out and established ourselves on defense and on offense,” Melton said. “Franklin coach [Daren] Walker does a great job and you knew they weren’t just going to lay down. They got a couple of onside [kicks] on us, we have to tighten that up, but we got two weeks to get ready for our next opponent.”
Americas would maintain a 17-point lead into the fourth quarter after linebacker Kolton Lindeman returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown with a little over 3 minutes left to play.
However Franklin would not be put away that easily, scoring 14 points in the waning minutes of the game giving them a puncher’s chance at a comeback, had they recovered a third onside kick with five seconds left to play.
“We knew tonight was a big game, this game kind of set up the rest of the playoff picture and the run for district,” Melton said. “I would have been a mess had we lost.”
Americas improves to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in District 1-6A play while dropping Franklin to 3-4, but giving them their first district loss of the season, now 2-1.
Franklin will face Coronado Oct. 22, Americas has a bye before they too take on the Thunderbirds on Oct. 30.