If the East Central-Franklin County football rivalry were a George Lucas saga, fans would be patiently waiting for the tale of a rebel uprising. For the 27th consecutive time dating back to 1999, the I-74 empire knocked off the FC Wildcats; a 3-0 game after one period Friday at FCHS turned into a 30-0 lead at halftime and final score of 37-8 in favor of the Trojans.

“It was difficult to keep that same intensity after things started to unravel,” said FC head coach Wes Gillman, “but then our kids came out in the second half and continued to play hard. We have a solid team with good players. It's important for our kids to understand that, and I think they do.”

The Trojans netted negative three yards prior to Sophie Browndyke’s 37-yard field goal on the game’s second possession. They had the fortune of starting at FC’s 18 after the Cats had lost 10 yards near their own end zone.

The next official play from scrimmage resulted in junior Brady Morehead tossing an interception to Samuel Ringer. EC again had excellent field position at the 30, but following one first down, the drive stalled, and a bad snap stopped Browndyke from a 40-yard attempt. EC gained just three yards on its next drive.

“We need to learn from mistakes but there were positives,” said Gillman. “As crazy as it sounds, our defense played a solid game; they kept us in the game (early).”

The Wildcats moved into EC territory on their fourth drive of the contest after a defensive pass interference call, though the team’s third offensive holding call of the stanza made it 1st-and-20. Three plays later, FC sent a punt into the end zone for a touchback.

EC’s offensive gears started churning late in the quarter as Hunter Sohns ran for a trio of first downs. Thanks to a Trojan hold, however, FC had its foe facing 4th-and-9 at the Wildcat 35-yard-line. The next play proved critical for momentum purposes. Instead of a turnover on downs, quarterback Cole Burton threw a screen pass to Eli Aston; the latter moved laterally and went forward 15 yards for a first down.

“We had a free linebacker with a shot at stopping the play at the line of scrimmage but just missed the tackle,” said the coach. “EC got our other linebackers on skates and did a great job of setting a wall. There’s a lot of things we could have done better (on the play) but that’s the way it goes.”

Trae Ohmer then went outside for a 20-yard touchdown and FC started the next drive at its own 40. Morehead dropped back to pass and threw one to the waiting Jack Rinear, who took it to the house from about 48 yards out. A Browndyke extra point quickly made it 17-0 and one could feel FC’s spirits dampening.

An FC punt gave the Trojans the ball back at their own 44. The visitors then flashed their excessive depth by inserting a fresh Ryan Brotherton into the backfield. Around a holding call, the sophomore accounted for 62 yards on catches and runs, going in from the 1 for a 24-0 lead.

“They have the luxury of throwing a lot of fresh bodies at you,” Gillman acknowledged. “They’re extremely fast and active and have 11 guys playing hard every single play. We knew that our margin of error was very thin.”

Another Wildcat punt turned the pigskin back to EC, who had used timeouts to give themselves about four minutes to pad the lead. FC was called for pass interference on the first play and Ohmer ran off runs of 17 and 25 yards to advance all the way to the 4. Grant Ernst punched it in for the 30-point advantage.

The Cats had some positive option runs just before halftime, but after another holding penalty, Rinear gathered in his second pick of the half.

The hosts’ defense stopped the Trojans from scoring on their first second-half drives, forcing a turnover on downs and another missed field goal. The third time was a charm for the guests. Sohns gained a pair of first downs, the latter being a 4th-and-5 conversion inside the 10. Burton sneaked in from the 2, making him the fifth different Trojan to score six.

A running clock followed, moving the fourth quarter along rapidly. FC fought to avoid the shutout and did so. Senior Kristian Prows caught four passes for 41 yards on the drive, including a 10-yard TD reception. Classmate Andrew Merritt ran in the 2-pointer.

Defensively, senior Austin Hill led with 7 tackles and fellow senior Sam Westerfeld added 4. Senior Hunter Geis and junior Peyton McCreary each recovered fumbles.

Next up for FC (3-1, 1-1 Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference) is another tough one at Lawrenceburg Friday, 7 p.m. The Tigers similarly lost to EC (34-6) the first week but have scored 137 points over three wins since.

“We are talented enough to compete with and beat them, but we need our core guys on the field to do so,” said Gillman. “After Friday’s game with high emotion and intensity, you suffer some injuries. Hopefully it’s just bumps and bruises and we have a full squad this week.”

Trojans 37, Wildcats 8
East Central – 3 27 7 0 - 37
Franklin Co. – 0 0 0 8 - 8
First Quarter
EC – Browndyke 37-yard FG, 8:51
Second Quarter
EC – Ohmer 20-yard run, 9:39. Browndyke kick.
EC – Rinear 48-yard interception return, 9:22. Browndyke kick.
EC – Brotherton 1-yard run, 4:55. Browndyke kick.
EC – Ernst 4-yard run, 1:45. Kick wide.
Third Quarter
EC – Burton 2-yard run, 1:53. Browndyke kick.
Fourth Quarter
FC – Prows 10-yard pass from Morehead, 1:52. Merritt run.
Total yards: EC 289, FC 108
Passing: EC 47, FC 51
Rushing: EC 242, FC 57
First downs: EC 13, FC 7
Fumbles/lost: EC 2/1, FC 0
Penalties: EC 7-80, FC 7-65

East Central – Rushing: Sohns 10-69, Burton 4-13, Ernst 4-21, Ohmer 11-83, Aston 1-4, Brotherton 5-52. Passing: Burton 6-16-47. Receiving: Brotherton 2-41, Aston 3-6, Nate Buesing 1-0.

Franklin Co.- Rushing: Bridger Bolos 13-39, Jacob Schatzle 3-23, Morehead 10-(-5), Merritt 1-0. Passing: Morehead 8-19-51 (3 INT). Receiving: Prows 6-42, Schatzle 1-2, Tyreke Carr 1-7.

(Stats should be considered unofficial)