Football: Franklin, McCoy scores with 9 seconds left to spoil Winnisquam homecoming

By DAN ATTORRI

Monitor staff

Published: 09-30-2023 10:18 PM

The Franklin High School football program has had a rough go of it for the last few years. When you’re down, it’s tempting to give up, and that was all too common for the Golden Tornadoes in year’s past. But not on Saturday.

Franklin trailed 14-0 at halftime, but senior quarterback Zeke McCoy ran for four touchdowns in the second half, including one from three yards out with nine seconds left in the game, as the Tornadoes spoiled Winnisquam’s homecoming game with a 24-21 victory.

The Bears got on the board with 3:42 to go in the first quarter when senior quarterback Alex Nichols connected with fellow senior Frank McComiskey on a 41-yard pass for a 7-0 lead. Senior CJ Biancardi ran the ball from 17 yards out to make it 14-0 in the middle of the second quarter.

Head coach Tim Snow made some adjustments at halftime, opting to move senior Noah Alers from the offensive line to fullback, and the impact was immediate. With the support of the line, he pounded the ball up the middle for 65 yards, all in the second half, and helped Franklin move the ball down the field.

McCoy scored from the 7-yard line with 7:45 to go in the third and senior Gabe Alers recovered a fumble on Winnisquam’s first play of the next drive. Four plays later, McCoy scored from the 1 to make it 14-12 with 6:38 on the clock.

The Tornadoes shored things up on the defensive end as well, with McCoy (interception), Gabe Alers (three sacks, four passes defended) and Noah Alers (seven tackles) anchoring Franklin on both sides of the ball. Franklin forced a turnover on downs following McCoy’s second touchdown and McCoy tacked on another with 3:09 left in the third to give the Tornadoes their first lead of the game, 18-14.

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“Noah at fullback got us going,” Snow said. “He just pounded the ball. He gained a lot of yards for us. He really got us back in the game and the team rallied around that.”

Nichols connected with sophomore Ethan Poole on fourth and 11 to get to Franklin’s five, setting up Nichols to score on a QB keeper. Senior Zach St. Onge successfully kicked his third extra point of the afternoon to put the Bears up 21-18 with 5:04 left in the game.

Junior Harrison Kaplan caught a McCoy pass for 40 yards to bring the ball to the 10-yard line and three players later McCoy ran it in from the 3 for the game-winning touchdown, securing the biggest victory for Franklin’s football program in many years.

The win evens Franklin’s record at 2-2, the first time that the Tornadoes have won more than a single game in a season since they went 5-2 in 2018, and it came on the road against Route 3 rivals Winnisquam (0-4).

What’s more, it’s evidence of a shift in mindset that Snow has been trying to implement over his three years as head coach.

“Our big focus is getting the kids not to give up, to keep fighting, not just in football, in life,” Snow said. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Today it did. They were flat in the first half, but the culture turn has been about them learning how they don’t have to quit when things go bad. I think today was a big turning point.”

Franklin currently sits in fourth place in the Division IV standings with three more weekends of games remaining. The top four teams in D-IV earn trips to the postseason.

“Our goal from the beginning is to make the playoffs,” Snow said. “This win helps us. We’re on to Mascoma.”

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