FRANKLINTON Corinth Holders quarterback Cole Sakowski threw four touchdown passes – two each to Hampton Smith and Dymon Walker – and the Pirates survived a two-point conversion try with 1:17 to go to beat previously unbeaten Franklinton 33-32 Friday night.
It was the Pirates’ first victory in three tries against their former Northern Carolina 2A rival. Corinth Holders (5-1) begins Two Rivers 3A play next week against Western Harnett. Last season’s 34-21 loss to Franklinton was the final defeat of the 17-game losing streak that began the varsity football saga for the Pirates.
“Their coaches do a tremendous job, and they have tremendous athletes,” Corinth Holders coach Barry Honeycutt said. “We beat a great football team tonight. That’s what we needed to do.
“I know it’s a tough loss for them. But we’ve got to take conference games one game at the time. It’s a lot better being 5-1 going into conference play than 0-5 like the last two years.”
Franklinton (5-1) scored its final touchdown in the nip-and-tuck game on a 9-yard run by Travon Judkins, who scored three touchdowns including an 18-yard interception return. But Tony Kirkwood intercepted the Rams’ two-point conversion pass, and the Pirates claimed the win after a roughing-the-punter call on fourth down prevented Franklinton from getting one more possession.
“I thought all week long this game might come down to one play,” Franklinton coach Jeremy Buck said. “There were explosive plays all around, and it was a good high school football game between two teams that should compete in their conferences and go to the playoffs.
“They throw the ball a lot more than a lot of the teams in our conference, so it was good to see a team like we might see in the playoffs.”
Sakowski completed 11 of 25 passes for 216 yards with two interceptions.
“This was very sweet,” Sakowski said. “Tonight was just awesome. We stepped up in the second half. Our defense kept us in the game in the first.
“We’ve still got to cut down on our turnovers. There are always things to improve on.”
The score was tied 19-19 at halftime.
Judkins gave the Rams the lead on a 36-yard burst with 10:56 left in the first quarter, but the Pirates blocked Jacob Woodburn’s kick.
The Pirates came back with a quick score, with Sakowski connecting with Smith for a 62-yard touchdown at 9:24 of the quarter. Daniel Farmer’s kick made it 7-6.
“We’ve never beaten them before, and that was salt in our wounds,” Smith said. “It was good we had two weeks to prepare for them. This start means a lot, but we still have a lot to prove.”
Corinth Holders stretched it to 14-6 with 6:09 left in the first on Walker’s 22-yard catch from Sakowski with Farmer adding the kick.
Judkins closed the gap with 4:01 left in the period when he stepped in front of Sakowski’s pass and took it 18 yards to the end zone. But the Rams’ two-point conversion try failed.
Corinth Holders tacked on three points on Farmer’s 26-yard field goal with 9:27 left in the second quarter after Justin Humble’s interception return to the 1.
Franklinton took the lead again with 5:35 left in the half on J.C. Henderson’s 3-yard run and Woodburn’s kick.
But it was tied at 19-all at the half after the Rams scored following a safety on a bad snap on a punt 2:06 before halftime.
The Red Rams went up again with 8:16 left in the third on an 85-yard interception return from Shyheim Jones and Woodburn’s conversion.
But the visitors got the next 14 points, as Sakowski connected with Walker on a 34-yard pass with 10:39 left and hit Smith on a 54-yard pass at 8:17 with Farmer making both conversion kicks.
“Our line does a great job in the passing game, and we’ve got great timing with our quarterback,” Walker said. “We’re getting better and better at running our routes.”