It does not happen very often but the Mustangs fans can celebrate the Friday Night victory over the Franklin Panthers in the Panther Pit. Even more the Panthers suffered their second loss in as many games after losing last weekend to Pisgah. The Mustangs win combined with the Pisgah win over Brevard earned the Mustangs second place in the conference behind Pisgah since both teams beat Brevard. In Franklin neither team was able to establish a drive on their first possession but the Mustangs took a Panther’s Punt at their own 40 and marched down field in a nine play drive capped off by elusive running Devon Stephens to get to the end zone for the first touchdown of the night which was capped off with the PAT by Yanez to give the Mustangs a 7 to 0 lead. The Panthers responded with a diverse 16 play drive to tie the score at 7 to 7 at the end of the quarter. The second quarter started much like the beginning of the game with neither team able top sustain a drive on their first possession but the Mustangs took at Panthers punt at their own 30 yard line which Devon Stephens returned 30 yards to the Panthers 40 with just under six minutes to play. On the fifth play the Mustangs took to the air. Hinson floated a fifteen yard pass to Cody Lominac who leaped into the air to grab the pass for the Mustangs second score. The PAT by Yanez was good and the Mustangs led 14 to 7 with 3:31 to play. There was no additional scoring in the first half.
The Second Half started with a blast. The Panthers mishandled the kick-off which was fumbled and recovered by Smoky Mountain. A Franklin penalty added to their miseries and the Mustangs started the drive at the Panthers 12. Will Frady pounded the Franklin defense three times to get to the end zone for a Mustangs score. The try for the PAT was partially blocked depriving Yanez for the PAT. The Mustangs led 20 to 7 with 10:46 to play. The Panthers still showed they had some scratch left and started clawing their way back after taking the kickoff at their 30. The Panthers capped off a twelve play drive with a Blake Gibson to Dillon Cochran pass that covered 20 yards after Cochran’s catch and carry into the end zone. The PAT was good and the Panthers were back to within six points with five minutes to play in the third quarter. The Mustangs started the drive at the 27 after the Panthers kickoff. The Mustangs deployed Will Frady and James Hinson to carry the ball against the Panthers defense and appeared on their way to a quick strike score to expand the lead by Panthers Dillon Cochran intercepted a miss-thrown pass from Mustangs James Hinson and returned it to the 17 where the Panthers started a drive which stalled at the Mustangs 17 when the Panthers tried to keep the drive going on a fourth and five. The Mustangs took over on downs and started back the other way. On his second carry of the drive Will Frady broke open for a 60 yard broken field run followed by a 13 yard carry and a 15 yard charge to get the ball to the Panthers five. The Mustangs went to Devon Stephens for the end around which was successful then used the same play for a two point conversion to expand the score to 28 to 14. The Panthers fumbled the kickoff a second time and the Mustangs made the recovery, but were slapped with two immediate penalties and were moving the wrong way. The Mustangs misfortune continued when the Panthers picked off a Hinson pass at the 23. Aided by a pass interference call the Panthers found themselves at the Mustangs 26 yard line. Gibson delivered a strike to Isaiah Watts who covered the 26 yards of a touchdown. The first try for the PAT was no good but a penalty was called against Smoky Mountain giving Franklin another try which was successful making it a 28 to 21 game with the Mustangs in the lead. The Panthers attempted an on side kick but the Mustangs covered the ball and ran out the clock for their first win since the 2007 season, and only their second win since 2004. The Mustangs will wait for the brackets to be announced on Sunday to find out what the playoff scenario is.