Stepp's Top 10 Texas High School Football Games of 2020: No. 3 - Canadian 35, Franklin 34

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Canadian 35, Franklin 34

December 17, 2020

Class 3A Division II State Championship

AT&T Stadium, Arlington

Heavy underdog Franklin had no interest in a coronation for top-ranked Canadian in the state title game as the Lions put forth an incredible effort, pushing the Wildcats to the limit in an absolute classic for the 3A-Division II state title.

Both defenses controlled the action early on as each team was forced to punt on their first two drives. Canadian was able to grab an early lead late in the first quarter when Josh Culwell hooked up with WR Gary Anderson for a 65-yard touchdown to put the Wildcats up 7-0.

After a Franklin three and out, Canadian would march 64-yards on eight plays, taking a 14-0 lead on the final play of the first quarter as Culwell and Anderson connected once again, this time on a four-yard scoring pass and Canadian appeared to have total control of the game.

Franklin would respond with a big play of their own to start the second quarter as the Lions, who are a ground and pound Slot-T team by nature, showed their ability to put the ball in the air as Marcus Wade connected with Malcolm Murphy for a 59-yard touchdown pass to cut the Canadian lead in half at 14-7.

The game would start to open up in the second half, setting the stage for one of the wildest fourth quarters you’ll ever see in a state title game.

After forcing a Franklin three and out on their opening drive, Canadian extended its lead to 21-7 with just over eight minutes left in the third as Culwell threw a 34-yard strike to Twister Kelton.

Franklin marched 71-yards in just four plays on their next drive to cut the lead back to a touchdown as Seth Spiller ripped off a 53-yard touchdown run to make it 21-14 Canadian with 6:56 left in the third.

On Canadian’s next drive, they used a 10-play, 75-yard drive to get to the Franklin 1, but the Lions defense buckled down inside the ten and force a Canadian turnover on downs to swing momentum to the green and gray clad side. The Lions would embark on a trademark 13-play, 98-yard drive with Spiller tying the game at 21-21 on a three-yard touchdown run with just over eight minutes left in the game.

Canadian would have an answer, though, taking less than two minutes off the clock marching 82-yards in just six plays to take the lead back at 28-21 as Hayze Hufstedler ripped off a 47-yard touchdown run to give the Wildcats the lead right back with 6:22 left in the game.

Franklin would quickly tie the game up on the next drive, taking advantage of a short field setup by an outstanding kickoff return by Bryson Washington. Six plays later, Spiller would score his third touchdown of the half on a one-yard run to tie the game up at 28 with 3:42 remaining.

Franklin’s defense would rise to the moment on the next drive forcing a three and out and giving their offense the ball back with just over two minutes remaining. The Lions would hit Canadian with a major haymaker on the fourth play of the drive dialing up a perfect trick play as Spiller took the handoff and thew a perfect 37-yard touchdown pass to Braden Smith to give Franklin a 34-28 lead with just over a minute left, BUT the extra point hit the upright and was missed.

That would be the opening Canadian would need as on the ensuing drive the Wildcats rose to the occasion as Culwell would take a deep shot over the middle to Reagan Cochran, who escaped a diving attempt by the defender and got into the end zone for the 52-yard touchdown pass.

Edgar Salazar’s PAT was true and Canadian took home an absolutely thrilling 35-34 state title win over Franklin in an instant classic.

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