On the first cold night of the Friday Night Lights' season, the only undefeated and number one ranked team in El Paso, the Franklin Cougars faced off against their district rival, the Montwood Rams. For both teams, this match-up was circled in the beginning of the season to see who really was the best team in the 915.
Montwood came into this game not having played their best game yet all season, as they weren't able to put away Americas and for that, they suffered their first district loss while moving down to third place in 1-5A District.
Franklin on the other hand, came in as the hottest team in the city, having a 15 game winning streak in the regular season, dating back to last year. The offense led by running back Marcos Hernandez was averaging 45 points a game.
The game started off fast as both teams got great field possessions in their opening drives which led to each team scoring touchdowns. Montwood quarterback Angel Garcia kept throwing the ball even with the high chilled winds going against him, he threw a gorgeous pass into a tight window, to Ruben Portillo who also made a great catch that put the Rams up 14-7.
The Cougars were playing sloppy ball or maybe it was their hands getting cold, because they lost the ball three times and all of them were fumbles. Good thing for Franklin though, was that those three turnovers only led to two field goals for the Rams, which only kept the game close.
Montwood had a chance to go up by three possessions right before the first half ended but Portillo coughed up the ball right at the one yard line. That took points off the board of what could have been a huge lead for Montwood. Instead they were only up 17-7 at the half.
In the second half, Franklin came out throwing the football as quarterback Cameron Candelaria hit John Paul Quinn for 31 yards and made this a close game, only down three points. Another field goal by Montwood on their next possession and the Cougars had the ball with a chance to take the lead.
Hernandez didn't waste time as he once again broke a couple of tackles and sprinted 21 yards to give Franklin their first lead of the game. But that lead wouldn't last as Montwood head coach, Chuck Veliz threw in a tricky play that worked one yard away from perfection as wide receiver Warren Redix got a reverse hand off and instead of running it, Redix gripped the ball and chucked it up 25 yards to Portillo, who ran it all the way to the one yard line.
Montwood would capitalize this time with a one yard QB sneak by Angel Garcia. The Rams converted on their two point conversion and were just one quarter away from pulling the upset.
The story of the fourth quarter was the chances that the Cougars missed because they couldn't convert on their fourth down conversions. Franklin went 1 for 5 on fourth down's in the game and three times they were sacked by defensive linemen, Jorge Rodriguez.
The Rams did what teams have to do in order to pull an upset and that's control the time of possession. After Franklin couldn't convert on their fifth, fourth down conversion, Montwood got the ball with 6:47 left in the game. They never gave the ball back.
Montwood ran the ball with consist effort and were able to convert their only fourth down attempt to keep the Cougars offense on the sideline. The Montwood Rams took down Number One Franklin, 28-21.
Coach Veliz said this was the first game his team finally played all four quarters to their potential. The Rams defense was also given credit as they only allowed 21 points to a high scoring Cougar offense. They came up big when it was important and defensive coordinator Paul Brownell had the biggest smile on his face when he looked at the scoreboard.
There is now a four way tie in District 1-5A between Franklin, Montwood, El Dorado and Americas. El Dorado has the toughest way to go since they face Americas next week and Franklin right after. Montwood has the easiest schedule left as they face Coronado and Eastwood. But they can't let this game go to much into their heads because if they slip once more, don't except Franklin to lose once again.