With the big 34-31 victory over crosstown rival Washington, Franklin Pierce has secured their playoff spot in the SPSL 2A.
“With this being my first Helmet Bowl, Coach talked about it yesterday; how the games are really tight and it’s an exciting atmosphere,” said Franklin Pierce associate head coach Cary Nagel, who was filling in for suspended head coach Mickey Ahrens. “We shot ourselves in the foot a little bit early, but I thought we did well in coming back — and it was a great victory.”
In a game that teeter-tottered back and forth, it was Willie Patterson who proved to be the star for Franklin Pierce.
The junior quarterback finished the game with 204 yards and three touchdowns on 17 of 29 passing. He also added another touchdown on the ground and 86 yards on 11 carries.
Patterson often connected with senior wide receiver Emmanuel Thornton, who finished the game with 89 yards and a touchdown on eight catches.
“Willie Patterson is probably one of the most gifted players I’ve ever coached,” Nagel said. “Being at Shelton for 10 years I’ve had my run of very good football players, but I think Willie Patterson is kind of a one of a kind football player.
“He’s the absolute catalyst of this football team. He does a great job. He gets the offensive linemen fired up. He’s just a leader across the board.”
On the other side, it was a tale of ups and downs for Washington.
Three personal fouls and one big holding penalty will haunt Washington and forever leave the lingering question of what if.
Washington’s playoff dreams were also hindered with a troubling situation in the first half.
With a 99-yard drive intact and four minutes left in the first half, Washington’s star running back Tariq Ellis was tackled awkwardly and trainers were immediately called on for what appeared to be a serious knee injury.
Before having to be carted off the field, Ellis was working on a 150-yard game on just 15 carries. The senior also busted out the first touchdown of the game on a 66-yard off-tackle rush in the first quarter.
Filling in for Ellis, senior running back Darius Hatcher had a strong game as well, going for 97 yards on 18 carries.
Franklin Pierce will now advance to district playoffs, where they will play Foster next weekend.