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DISTRICT CHAMPS! Bearcats dominate second half, defeat Franklin

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Cox scores three times, defense shines in win

By John Herndon

Anderson County rallied from an early 14-0 deficit, then controlled the second half to defeat Franklin County, 35-21, for the Class 5A, District 6 championship Friday night at Hollie Warford Stadium.

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The Bearcats captured their third district title in seven years while improving to 7-1 on the year. Franklin, which had won the last two district crowns, fell to 8-1 and suffered its first regular-season loss since 2010.

Anderson, which gave up a couple of quick touchdowns after an interception and a fumble inside Bearcat territory, settled down to give up 199 yards to a Franklin team that had been averaging 432 yards and 47 points a game. The Flyers managed just 57 yards after intermission.

Anderson ended up with 394 yards offense on 65 plays.

Anderson's Ross Cox scored three touchdowns and picked off a Barrett Sanderson pass in the fourth quarter. Two plays after the interception, Cox dove into the end zone from a yard out to make it 35-21 and seal the win.

After Franklin had turned two Anderson turnovers into touchdowns in the first seven minutes, the Bearcats regrouped to drive 80 yards in 15 plays with Zachary Carmichael doing the honors from a yard out.

After the teams traded touchdowns, the Bearcats got a huge break when Franklin faked a punt from its own 14-yard-line 1:16 left in the first half. Three plays later, Cox scored from a yard out to send the teams to halftime tied at 21.

The Bearcats might have broken Franklin's back after being pinned deep in Anderson territory twice in the second half. On the second, Anderson made it look easy, driving 95 yards in seven plays. Tristin Ashburn highlighted the march with runs of 39 and 9 yards. Chris Toomey also caught a pass for 25 yards in the march. Toomey ended up with five catches for 87 yards.

As the Bearcats killed off the final seconds, they erupted in a wild celebration over a district title that had eluded them the last two seasons.

Anderson will travel to East Jessamine next Friday for a district game, but what happens in that game will have no bearing on the standings. The worst Anderson can do is finish tied in the district standings with Franklin or Montgomery County. Anderson holds the tie-breaker by virtue of wins over both.

Franklin will host Montgomery next week to determine the two and three seeds in the playoffs.

Anderson will close the year at Collins in two weeks, then will host Cooper in the first round of the state playoffs.

For a complete report, including quotes from several Bearcat players and head coach Mark Peach, see the Oct. 23 edition of The Anderson News.