By Geoff Neville
FRANKLINTON -- One play changed the course of Franklinton’s season during Friday’s first-round matchup with Randleman in the Class 2-AA State Football Playoffs.
With his team leading by seven points early in the fourth quarter, FHS’ Demetrius Burk retrieved a punt and appeared on his way to a touchdown -- only to fumble the ball from just short of the goal into the end zone.
Randleman recovered while Burk was motionless on the ground. Burk, a senior who stars on both sides of the ball, was carried off the field with a leg injury and didn’t return.
While Randleman appeared fueled by the recovery, Franklinton seemed to be stung by Burk’s loss, and the result was a 21-16 victory for the Tigers.
Randleman advanced into the second round with an 8-4 mark, while the Red Rams closed at 9-3 under first-year coach Jeremy Buck.
FHS scored two early touchdowns to take charge, including an 87-yard burst from Burk at the 9:47 mark of the first period.
After Burk’s untimely fumble, Randleman drove downfield and used Chris Allen’s 1-yard plunge for a touchdown and Allen Goslen’s ensuing PAT to tie the score.
The Red Rams responded with a 79-yard kickoff return from Rondez Taylor to the Randleman 11-yard line, but the Tigers would eventually stop FHS on downs.
Randleman used another march to pick up the eventual game-winner -- an 8-yard TD pass from Dunbar to Jacar Green.
After an interception, the Tigers deliberately took a safety to help preserve the victory.