Murphy Bulldogs Bite the Franklin Panthers

Featured Stories, Sports, Team FYN Sports, TeamFYNSports

Murphy’s Hunter Stalcup Singes the Second Quarter

By Brandon Stephens


(Franklin) – – There is no stopping Murphy senior Running Back Hunter “Rhinestone Cowboy” Stalcup, who gained nearly 160 yards of total offense in receiving and rushing and four touchdowns, all during the second quarter, to take the Murphy Bulldogs to a commanding lead at halftime Murphy 34 Franklin 0.  It appeared he was headed out into a “star-spangled rodeo” in the second quarter with all the right moved.  Stats from the game were not available to calculate the total number of yards.  The second quarter performance by the Bulldogs was all it took to turn the Panther Pit into a Dawg House.  We can answer the question “Granny does your dog(s) bite?”  Yes, child they do.  And yes, they were led by a child.

Murphy had a good opening drive with no mistakes and swift play until the Bulldogs reached the goal line.  A few poor plays from the four yard-line would send the Bulldogs backwards and bring up a fourth down from the five.  Will Joyner’s first field goal of the season went wide to the right and may have had players and fans a little disheartened.  That didn’t last long as the momentum stayed with Murphy and made for a very prosperous night with a final score Murphy 41 Franklin 14.

Murphy proved to itself there is capability within the offense and defense.  Franklin is not the typical Panther team with prowess we have seen in years past.  It is at team that is young and rebuilding from losses at graduation and finding some inexperienced players in starting positions.  How was this game for the Bulldogs?

There are so many plays and points to unpack from this game.  Starting with offense, sophomore Brady Grant looked right at home and helped lead the Bulldogs in a well-orchestrated offensive attack.  During the first dozen plays Grant hit his target with Hunter Stalcup for a screen pass for a short gain and a seven yard pick up to Zach Skogen.  The offensive line did well to protect Grant and opening the holes for Stalcup, Jonah Hedden, and when it came time, freshman Cameron Clem.  Clem scored the first touchdown of the season and for his varsity career at the mid-point of the first quarter.  Top things off with a run or two from senior Wing Back Trenton Russell.

The Bulldog defense had a crippling effect on the Franklin Panthers.  Trenton Russell did not have an offensive touchdown.  But, at the 10-minute mark of the third quarter he popped up at the 19 yard-line for a pick-6.  Russell ran the interception home for the final touchdown of the night.  Bulldog fans were able to see several defensive moments ranging from senior Kadence Leatherwood stopping Panther runners in the trenches to sophomore Brody Orton getting a sack on Franklin sophomore Quarterback Brock Bradley.  The Bulldogs also discovered there is a fire and ice inside senior Defensive Back Will Joyner, who we usually think of as the specialist guy.  Not so tonight as he had several stops that may leave some bruises.  There was no scoring opportunity for Franklin until the ending moments of the game when the Panthers scored on a 76-yard touchdown play with Wyatt Cantrell with seconds under 8 minutes left to go.  Later the Panthers would recover a Murphy fumble to set up sophomore Tail Back Braydon Hervey who dashed into the end zone from six yards out with nearly 1:40 left in the game.  Murphy Head Coach Joseph Watson was pleased with the Bulldogs performance and the confidence that will be needed to face the Commerce (Ga) Tigers this coming Friday (August 25, 2023).

First Quarter

Murphy started the game with good momentum averaging 12 yards per carry against the Franklin Panthers.  The opening drive took the Bulldogs down to the Panther 5 yard-line where they failed to punch the ball into touchdown town.  Murphy senior Kicker Will Joyner attempted his first field goal from the 7-yard line and went wide right.  Franklin went four and out to punt to Murphy.  Two plays and a cloud of dust behind freshman Running Back Cammeron Clem four a 43-yard touchdown with 5:53 left to go.  Will Joyner hit the point-after-touchdown kick (PAT).  That made the game Murphy 7 Franklin 0.  Murphy would get the ball back for a long drive down to the 16 yard-line before the end of the first quarter.

Second Quarter

Twenty-four seconds into the second quarter Hunter Stalcup would begin a touchdown frenzy with a 3-yard TD run.  Murphy thought it would be on defense for a moment, but Trenton Russell foiled the Panther offensive possession with an interception.  Murphy marched back down the field to the one yard-line to have Stalcup scramble for another TD. Murphy attempted a two-point conversion that was unsuccessful.  Touchdown number three for Stalcup came with about 5:00 left to go in the quarter on a 24-yard single play run.  Joyner hit the PAT making it Murphy 26 Franklin 0.  Fans through things might cool down.  Now on his horse to the star-spangled rodeo, the Rhinestone Cowboy (Stalcup) is hit with a pass from sophomore Quarterback Brady Grant, and the play turns into a 34-yard touchdown.  The PAT is good by Will Joyner.  We go to the half Murphy 34 Franklin 0.

Third Quarter

Franklin won the toss and decided its offensive possession to be deferred to take the ball to begin the third quarter, which was short lived.  Franklin was deep in its own territory when a pass play was called to the right flat, a place where Bulldog senior Defensive Back Trenton Russell was ready to pull down his second interception of the night.  This interception turned out to be a Pick-6.  To you and me that means he intercepted and ran the ball from the Franklin 19 into Touchdown town, for the final Murphy score of the night.  Will Joyner parked the PAT and made the score Murphy 41 Franklin 0.

Fourth Quarter

For almost an entire quarter, which was the remainder of the 10 minutes in the third quarter and 2:30 into the fourth quarter there was no more scoring until Franklin tapped Wyatt Cantrell for a 76-yard touchdown play.  Murphy shifted a few substitutions into the game to rest its first string.  The game appeared to be headed to a conclusion when Murphy fumbled.  The ball was recovered by Franklin and sent into the hands of junior Tail Back Braydon Hervey for a 6-yard touchdown run for the final score, Murphy 41 Franklin 14.

Murphy, now 1-and-0, will hold its season home opener this coming week against the Commerce (Ga) Tigers.  Last year Murphy had to rely on some hard-nose defense to hold off the Tigers for a 15-to-14 win.  Commerce defeated Southside Christian Friday (August 18, 2023) in a close 21-to-19 finish.  The Franklin Panthers, now 0-and-1, do not find an easier opponent as the team will travel to Robbinsville to face the Black Knights at Big Oak Stadium.  Robbinsville dominated the East Surry Cardinals 40-to-6 Friday nights (August 18, 2023).  East Surry was a dominating force during 2022.  Stay connected this week to Team FYN Sports for details on this coming week’s games.




Leave a comment

Back to Top