Senior staff writer
Franklin Central’s football team is off to its best start in 10 years after defeating Perry Meridian Friday in a Conference Indiana rivalry.
The Flashes won their fourth game in five starts with a lightning-fast passing attack in the first half and a defense that bent but didn’t break in the second half. FC prevailed 24-10 at Ray Skillman Family Field at Falcon Stadium.
“Nothing better than this,” said Flashes senior linebacker Eli Weeks. ‘Our team saying is ‘1-0 each week,’ and that’s our main goal.”
Under second-year coach Grant Lewis, the Flashes are 4-1, their best start since 2007 when finishing the regular season 7-2 under Lance Scheib. FC is unbeaten in Conference Indiana thanks to a Sept. 8 upset of then top-10 Columbus North.
The Flashes broke it open by scoring on touchdown passes from quarterback Dylan Bishop to Maliki Parks of 62 and 66 yards within a three-minute stretch for a 21-3 halftime lead. The duo struck for 196 yards just in the first half.
“Just seeing what coverage they were in really helped,” Bishop said. “If they backed off then I could just check down my receivers. It was pretty simple.”
Perry Meridian (0-5) stormed back and scored on a 1-yard run by quarterback Brooks Davis that capped a 30-yard drive kept alive by a roughing the punter penalty. On their next drive the Falcons reached the Flashes 32 but a dropped pass ended the drive on fourth down.
Late in the fourth quarter a 79-yard drive ended with an interception at the 2-yard line.
After the loss an upbeat Falcons coach Matt Henninger said, “That second half was outstanding football. We (coaches) challenged our guys at halftime to just execute with 11 guys for five or six seconds at a time and they responded.”
Bishop wound up with 214 yards passing; Davis threw for 193 yards, mostly in the second half. Offenses were almost even: FC with 363 yards and PM with 339. Penalties hurt both teams.
“We almost had a shutout in the second half,” Weeks said. “We stopped them on fourth down, and we forced punts. Our leadership (senior) played a big part. We were very vocal throughout the game.”
The Flashes were somewhat subdued after the win.
“We’re 4-1 and we haven’t seen that in a long time,” Lewis said. “We made a lot of mental errors. I think we left a lot on the field; we should have scored two more times. We’ll make the adjustments and get better.”
Perry Meridian had an 18-yard touchdown pass called back in the first quarter due to an illegal receiver downfield. And they missed a 38-yard field goal late in the second quarter.
This was the first rivalry game played at the Falcons’ first on-campus stadium and the last time they meet Franklin Central in a Conference Indiana contest. FC moves to Hoosier Crossroads and Perry Meridian to the Mid-State next season.