The Oliver Ames football team got off to the perfect start at Pisini Field in Franklin Saturday night.
After only 13 seconds, the Tigers had a 7-0 lead over the Panthers thanks to an 80-yard touchdown return by Jeremiah Troy on the game’s opening kick-off. However, OA would not score again until late in the fourth quarter and lost its opening league game 21-14.
Oliver Ames dominated the first half, but failed to capitalize on several good scoring opportunities. St. Clair Ryan lost a fumble at the end of a 16-yard run that would have given the Tigers a first down at the Franklin 11.
On its final drive of the half, OA got as close as the Franklin 18 before penalties pushed them back and forced long throws to the end zone.
Following the game, OA head coach Jim Artz rued those missed chances to extend the lead.
“We kind of let them hang around and I had an uneasy feeling at halftime thinking that was a bad omen. That's a seven point cushion after we dominated the half wouldn’t be enough and it came to be true.”
The Panthers came out strong to start the second half. Franklin took the opening drive of the third quarter 67 yards in nine plays capped by a Kyle Finamore touchdown run of four yards.
Franklin junior quarterback Nick Zucco began finding room to run the Panthers’ high-paced spread offense and Finamore would finish off two more drives with touchdown runs of nine and 19 yards.
Oliver Ames offense was beginning to stall as a fired up Franklin defense started to impose itself. Ryan, who finished with 127 yards on 22 carries, struggled to find running room and it fell to the Tigers junior signal caller, Nick Cicado, to try and jumpstart the offense.
With less than eight minutes remaining, OA got the ball back at its 25-yard line, trailing by two scores. On third and long, Cicado (13-22, 154 yards) hooked up with junior receiver Jake Fitzgerald for a 63-yared completion, the biggest play from scrimmage on the night, all the way to the Franklin 13.
A couple of plays later Cicado found senior Greg Cummings right at the pylon and Cummings was able to shuffle the feet for a touchdown.
The Tigers nearly gave themselves a late chance when Finamore lost the ball on the Oliver Ames 26, which would have forced fourth down, but the Panthers recovered two yards further upfield for a first down that used up an additional two minutes off the clock.
Artz was disappointed in the loss, which he referred to as an upset on a weekend when the Davenport Division asserted itself in the Hockomock. Artz felt his team lacked the necessary intensity in the second half.
"I think we just lost our edge. I watched the kids and it went from being game mode to being too joyful and too relaxed. We can’t do that. We lost to a good football team and hopefully, we learn some lessons, ” he said.
Oliver Ames (3-1) will host Pembroke in a non-league game next week.