Franklin’s defense steps up in 31-21 win over Pebble Hills

Photo by Victor Gonzalez/EP Gridiron

EL PASO, Texas – Franklin needed a win to clinch a playoff spot Saturday morning at the SAC, and their defense along with their offensive line answered the wake-up call as the Cougars took care of Pebble Hills with a 31-21 win.

The wins put Franklin in the playoffs for the 21st time in school history and will lock up the second seed in the 6A DI bracket and the Cougars will face either Midland Lee or Odessa Permian in the bi-district round on the road.

Franklin’s defense held Pebble Hills to just 232 total yards of offense, and 13 total first downs.  The Spartans had six second half possessions and scored just once in the second half.

The teams traded scores in the first half as Pebble Hills’ quarterback Sebastian Ochoa ran in a eight yard touchdown run to tie the game at 14-14 with 1:44 in the first quarter.

David Powers opened the scoring with a short touchdown run, then Ochoa tied the game at 7-7 with a 42-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Davis at the 6:05 mark of the first half.

Franklin would score 10 unanswered points in the final 9:31 of the first half with a 19-yard touchdown run by Pablo Payan, then Taj Westrick sent the game into the halftime break with Franklin leading 24-14 after a 29-yard field goal with just under five minutes left in the half.

Ochoa would cut the lead with a 24-yard scramble for a score on a third down play which cut the lead to 24-21 with 3:56 left in the third quarter and things became very interesting.

Although the Franklin defense took over from there.

The next four Spartan possession netted just four first downs, and a 25-yard touchdown by Danny Walther gave Franklin a 31-21 lead with 5:11 in the fourth quarter.  Walther’s touchdown run was set up by a 25-yard punt return by Michael Haack and Walther went to the house on the very next play.

Franklin’s defense sacked Ochoa five times and piled 9.0 tackles for loss in the game.

The Cougar offense ran for 340 yards, Payan ended the afternoon with 84 yards rushing, Erwin Sutton ran for 94 yards, and Walther ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns.  Walther had a 10-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter which gave Franklin an early 14-7 lead.

Walther was also 7-for-9 passing for 152 yards, Haack caught four passes for 70 yards.

Ochoa finished the afternoon 11-for-26 passing for 165 yards and a passing touchdown, he also ran for 67 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns.  Ochoa also became Pebble Hills’ all-time leader in passing yards in their short school history.

Franklin will Socorro next week, while Pebble Hills will face Coronado, the winner of that game will take the fourth and final playoff spot in district 1-6A.

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