By PAUL STONE
Westwood’s district debut as a member of Class 2A was one the Panthers would rather forget.
Running the ball almost at will and scoring touchdowns on 11 of their opening 12 possessions, the Franklin Lions blitzed the Panthers, 82-35, Friday night in the District 11-2A, Division I opener for both teams at Lion Stadium.
Franklin’s lopsided victory spoiled a 244-yard rushing performance by Westwood quarterback Keke Hicks who was virtually a one-man show for the Panthers offensively. All but 26 of Hicks’ 244 yards came in the second half as the senior speedster scored three touchdowns in the contest on runs of 34, 66 and 67 yards, with the latter two coming in the final two quarters.
Only throwing the ball three times the entire game, the Lions sliced and diced the Panthers' defense by rushing for 568 yards. Chris Morrow led the ground assault with 203 yards on 20 carries, while Morgan Brewer added 169 yards on just six carries.
Morrow and Brewer each rushed for three touchdowns for the Lions who capped off their Homecoming festivities with the decisive, district-opening victory.
Franklin finished with 593 total yards offense, while Westwood had 356.
Amassing 308 total yards offense in the first half — all but 25 on the ground — the Lions reached the half-century mark with 20 seconds remaining until the intermission after Morrow’s 1-yard run and Jacob Dorsett’s ensuing PAT put Franklin in front, 50-13.
Franklin’s seventh touchdown of the half was set up when the Lions’ Zack Short scooped up a Hicks’ fumble at his own 44 and rumbled 43 yards to the Westwood 1 in the opening half’s waning seconds.
Morrow, who had 142 yards on 16 carries in the opening two quarters, scored his third touchdown of the first half on the ensuing play as Franklin was firmly in control.
Franklin (now 4-2 on the season) had 308 total yards offense in the first half, compared to just 94 for Westwood. The Lions had 18 first downs in the opening two quarters, while the Panthers managed four.
Most of Westwood’s first-half yardage came on a pair of first quarter touchdowns.
The first of the Panthers’ touchdowns came when Hicks, off a fake inside handoff, kept the ball and then out-raced a host of Lions en route to a 34-yard TD run.
After Franklin’s Darius Floyd returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, the Panthers scored on their following possession as Hicks found Dra Ross in perfect stride over the middle with a 48-yard scoring toss.
Westwood trailed, 29-13, at the end of a high-scoring opening quarter, but only managed one first down in the second quarter, coming on a penalty.
Westwood (2-4 on the season, 0-1 in district) hosts Teague next week at Panther Stadium in another league tilt.
Teague opened district play with a 35-14 victory over Trinity.