WALLER

The Franklin Lions overwhelmed La Marque from start to finish, as the Cougars suffered a 45-7 loss in Saturday afternoon’s Region III-3A, Division I area round playoff game at Waller ISD Stadium.

“They were much more physical, and they got after us,” La Marque head coach Mike Jackson said. “That’s kind of their M.O. They run their version of the slot-T, but they try to be explosive with it. They put up 63 last week, so they’ve been putting up points on some people. … Credit to them. They played better, they were far superior in every way. So, they deserve it.”

With La Marque coming off the heels of an impressive bi-district win over Coldspring, Franklin set the tone from jump street with an offense that posted 447 total yards (391 rushing yards). A just-as-imposing defense didn’t allow a first down until well into the second quarter, and held La Marque to just 115 total yards (including only 15 yards rushing). Franklin had 28 first downs to La Marque’s seven.

“They did a better job in all areas,” Jackson said. “I’m proud of the seniors. The seniors had a good run, and it is what it is. We are who we are, which is an up-and-down football team.”

Five different Franklin running backs scored at least one touchdown in the game, with five players also rushing for 40 or more yards, led by 101 yards on 13 carries by Clayton Rosprim.

After forcing a La Marque three-and-out on the opening possession of the game, a punt netting just 21 yards set up Franklin with favorable field position. Five plays later, Franklin grabbed a 6-0 lead on an 8-yard touchdown run by Jared Pedraza (10 carries, 74 yards).

A much better punt after another Cougars three-and-out gave Franklin a longer field, but it made no difference as the Lions rumbled 73 yards on nine plays, capped by a 7-yard TD run by Nick Lopez (nine carries, 73 yards), for a 12-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

Another La Marque three-and-out was followed by a quick scoring drive by the Lions, with a 10-yard pass from Datron Dixon to Casey Phillips and a 17-yard run by Rosprim preceding an impressive 26-yard TD run by Rawshawn Green, who pushed the pile for about the final 7 yards, that gave Franklin a 19-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Franklin’s defense forced a fourth consecutive three-and-out, but Franklin’s only miscue of the game — a lost fumble recovered by Travarious Saldana at La Marque’s 48-yard line — gave the Cougars some life.

A defensive pass interference on second-and-12 moved the chains, as did a 9-yard pass from Myles Launius to Joey White on a fourth-and-6 play. An offensive pass interference call negated a 24-yard TD pass from Launius to Kordel Stewart, but a defensive pass interference call on fourth-and-11 kept the drive alive.

La Marque cashed in on the second chance with a 9-yard TD pass from Launius to Joey White to cut the lead to 19-7 at the 3:48 mark of the second quarter on a hard-fought drive.

However, the Cougars’ defense was unable to keep the Lions out of the end zone before the end of the first half, as Rosprim found pay dirt on a 17-yard run with 17 seconds on the second-quarter clock.

Franklin didn’t let up in the second half, with Pedraza returning the opening kickoff 62 yards to La Marque’s 26-yard line, followed quickly by a 15-yard TD run by Lopez for a 32-7 advantage 47 seconds into the third quarter.

Following another La Marque three-and-out, the Lions reached into their bag of tricks on their ensuing drive with a 26-yard halfback pass by Pedraza setting up an 18-yard rushing TD by Pedraza (who also caught a pass on the same drive.

Franklin logged the final score of the game on a 3-yard TD run by C.J. Smith with 5 minutes remaining in the game.

Launius led La Marque’s offense, completing 14 of 24 pass attempts for 100 yards and found five different receivers. White was the leading receiver with 40 yards on six catches.

James LaCombe: 409-683-5242, james.lacombe@galvnews.com or on Twitter @JamesAtGalvNews

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Valentino Clemons

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