FOOTBALL: Braves edged by Franklin in a nail-biter

by Aug 28, 2022SPORTS di-ne-lv-di-yi0 comments

Michael Driver (#3), Cherokee running back, darts into the end zone on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Tso Smith late in the fourth quarter of a game against the Franklin Panthers at Ray Kinsland Stadium on the evening of Friday, Aug. 26. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)



One Feather Staff


Following a one-hour weather delay due to lightning, the Cherokee vs Franklin game at Ray Kinsland Stadium on the evening of Friday, Aug. 26 got off to a sluggish start, but it ended in dramatic fashion.  Between the two teams, three of the four scores on the night occurred in the fourth quarter as the Franklin Panthers edged the Cherokee Braves 14-12.

Franklin got on the board first as Ty Handley ran in for a 1-yard touchdown at the 4:51 mark of the first quarter.  The extra point was no good, and the Panthers led 6-0 – a margin that would last into the fourth quarter.

On the game, Cherokee had four turnovers, three of which came in the first half, including two fumbles and two interceptions.  The Panther didn’t turn the ball over at all.  The game only had six penalties total between the two teams (Cherokee 4 for 40 yards, Franklin 2 for 26 yards).

PHOTO ALBUM: Cherokee vs Franklin

There was no scoring in the second and third quarters which set up a fantastic finish in the fourth.

The Panthers had the ball for the first five minutes of the fourth on a drive that began at the Cherokee 45-yard-line earlier in the third.  This drive culminated in a 5-yard touchdown run by Handley.  Brayden Watts ran in for the two-point conversion to give the Panthers a 14-0 lead with 5:21 left in the game.

Cherokee’s Chase Calhoun pulls away from everyone on a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The Braves didn’t quit though, and the crowd was about to be dazzled.

On the ensuing kickoff, Chase Calhoun, Braves running back, fielded the ball at his own 6-yard-line, darted up the middle breaking several tackles and getting a few key blocks before he bust out of the pack and headed down the right sidelines 94 yards for a score.  Cherokee’s point-after kick failed, and the Braves trailed 14-6 with 5:06 left in the game.

Cherokee’s defense held the Panthers to a three-and-out forcing Franklin to punt.  The Braves got the ball back setting up shop at their own 34-yard-line.  Several plays later, Cherokee converted on fourth down as Tso Smith, Braves quarterback, hit Raymond Bradley, Braves wide receiver, on a 19-yard pass bringing them down to the Franklin 39-yard-line.

Two plays later, Smith hit Michael Driver, Braves running back, on an 8-yard pass for a first down to the Panthers 28-yard-line.  On the tackle, the Panthers got a targeting penalty which took the ball to the Franklin 14-yard-line.

On the next play, Smith connected with Driver again on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 50.4 seconds left in the game.  The Braves came up inches short on their two-point conversion try making it 14-12.

Franklin ran out the clock on their next possession to end the game.

Cherokee’s Raymond Bradley makes an open field tackle on Franklin’s Brayden Watts.

Cherokee plays host to the Choctaw Central Warriors on Friday, Sept. 2 in the annual Battle of the Nations game with the Braves representing the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Warriors representing the Mississppi Band of Choctaw Indians.


Total Plays: Cherokee 38, Franklin 58

Total Yards: Cherokee 194, Franklin 253

Passing Yards: Cherokee 100, Franklin 67

Rushing Yards: Cherokee 94, Franklin 186

First Downs: Cherokee 10, Franklin 15

Turnovers: Cherokee 4, Franklin 0



Passing: Cherokee – Tso Smith, 5 of 7 for 100 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs; Franklin – Davis Anders, 4 of 9 for 67 yds

Rushing: Cherokee – Chase Calhoun 9 for 42 yds, Tso Smith 12 for 41yds, Michael Driver 5 for 11yds; Franklin – Ty Handley 28 for 112yds and 2 TDs, Daniel Ensley 6 for 24yds

Receiving: Cherokee – Raymond Bradley 2 for 51yds, Mato Grant 1 for 29yds, Michael Driver 1 for 14yds and 1 TD, Kadan Trantham 1 for 6yds; Franklin – Beau Paulson 1 for 31yds, Ty Handley 2 for 23yds

Tackles: Cherokee – Luke Climbingbear 6 tackles and 15 assists, Mato Grant 3 and 7, Xavier Otter 2 and 9, Kadan Trantham 1 and 1 and 1 blocked field goal, Michael Driver 2 and 3; Franklin – Gabe Nickerson 2 and 1, Jacob Gibson 2