Category: Franklin HS
Franklin drops No. 20 Dundalk behind junior speedster's breakout (VIDEO HERE!)
by Derek Toney
Homecoming turned into a coming out of party for Franklin's offense and Ja'mon Murphy Friday evening.
The No. 13 Indians defeated 20th-ranked and previously unbeaten Dundalk, 37-14, in a Baltimore County Division I football contest at McWilliams Stadium in Reisterstown.
Thanks to two fourth quarter scoring runs from Murphy, Franklin (4-1 overall) pulled away to move to 2-0 in Division I play. The Indians are tied for first with defending league champ and 3A state finalist Milford Mill Academy and Parkville, who meet Saturday afternoon in Parkville.
Franklin, which finished a pedestrian 7-4 last season after a run of five straight 10-win seasons including back-to-back 3A state crowns in 2013 and 2014, is hoping to return to prominence this fall. The Indians had arguably their best offensive showing Friday, netting 446 yards, 301 rushing.
Most of that was courtesy of Murphy, who broke free for touchdowns of 38 and 75 yards in the fourth quarter, and finished with four runs of 30 yards or more. He finished with 210 yards on just nine carries.
Two weeks ago, Murphy was only playing defensive back.
"He popped up on our radar last week when he was going against the scout team," said Franklin coach Anthony Burgos. "We threw him back there [in backfield] against Kenwood and we saw a great spark on one play. We said OK, let's follow up and see if he can do it consecutive weeks."
"We hadn't had a spark since week one so I had to be a man and provide a spark," said Murphy. "I got my chance and had to take advantage of it."
Explosive plays - a hallmark during Franklin's run as the area's best public team - were in force Friday. Vernon Brown connected with Mekai Felton for an 80-yard scoring pass, and Daniel Yarborough added a dazzling 91-yard punt return for another touchdown.
"Franklin has been great over the years capitalizing on mistakes," said Dundalk coach Matt Banta. "You can't make mistakes, you have to play a complete game."
Thanks to runs of 34 and 30 yards from Murphy, Franklin covered 92 yards in five plays as senior Jay Thompson bullied his way into the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown. Dundalk fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Indians converted the miscue into a Simon Spath 36-yard field goal.
Ronnie Brown, whose kickoff return fumble opened the door for Franklin's field goal, atoned, taking a pitch from junior quarterback Treshawn Ray and going 30 yards down the sidelines for a touchdown, bringing the Owls to 10-7 with 7 minutes, 36 seconds left before halftime. The Indians answered seconds later as Vernon Brown went up top to Felton, who got behind his defender and raced to the end zone for the 80-yard score.
The Indians forced Dundalk to punt on the ensuing possession. Yarborough got the ball off a bounce near the sidelines, slipped through two Owl tackles and went the distance, extending Franklin's advantage to 24-7 with 3:44 remaining in the second quarter.
Dundalk (4-1, 1-1 Division I), off to its best start since its Class 3A state final 2015 season, showed its big play prowlness with Ray finding Malik Lindsay from 12 yards, bringing Dundalk within 24-14 with 2:53 left in the second, after connecting with Marcus Moore for 60 yards on the previous play.
Dundalk, however, had no answer for Murphy, who scooted through a hole up middle, cut over to the sidelines and hopped into the end zone, extending Franklin's advantage to 30-14 with 9:54 left in regulation. Murphy went untouched down the sidelines for 75 yards, capping a night where he had nearly 300 all-purpose yards.
"We're on course with what we've been doing. We got our big guys like Jay Thompson and Elijah Solomon, but then with got guys like Ja'mon Murphy who's very similar to Steven Smothers," said Burgos. "He's a kid we're expecting big things."
The Indians, whose only loss is to nationally-ranked and perennial state powerhouse DeMatha Catholic, are thinking big after an uneven season on the field and sidelines last fall.
"Last year, everybody argued and wanted the ball for themselves," said Solomon, a linebacker/running back committed to Villanova University. "This year, no cares who scores as long as we're winning."
"Our expectations are still the same," said Burgos. "If people want to think Franklin is a different team, let them keep thinking that. I think those guys are going to prove everybody wrong."
No. 13 Franklin 37, No. 20 Dundalk 14
Dundalk 0 14 0 0 - 14
Franklin 10 14 0 13 - 37
Franklin - Jay Thompson 25 run (Simon Spath kick)
Franklin - Spath 36 field goal
Dundalk - Ronnie Brown 30 run (Will Kelly kick)
Franklin - Mekai Felton 80 pass from Vernon Brown (Spath kick)
Franklin - Daniel Yarborough 91 punt return (Spath kick)
Franklin - Ja'mon Murphy 38 run (kick failed)
Franklin - Murphy 75 run (Spath kick)