Lebanon found a combination that works — Taye Davis and Karlton Bruton.
The Blue Devil running backs combined for 257 yards and five touchdowns as Lebanon wore down visiting Franklin County and celebrated homecoming with a 31-17 victory at Clifton Tribble Field/Danny Watkins Stadium on Friday night.
Davis broke numerous tackles to churn up 177 yards on 19 carries, scoring on runs of 1, 20 and 7 yards. Bruton delivered more of the same, 80 yards on 14 rushes, including scores of 3 and 1 yards, as the Blue Devils handed Sam Harp his first win as a head coach in Tennessee after 326 and seven state championships in Kentucky.
"Taye's running like I felt the [6-foot-2, 228-pound junior] young man could run," Harp said. "He can be as good as any running back around here, or maybe even further than that. The sky's the limit for that young man..
"Karlton, he's a war daddy, no doubt about it. He's a tough guy to bring down. Taye's a tough guy to bring down. I was just glad Taye got through the night without full body cramps this time. It was hotter tonight than it was last week."
Davis and Bruton didn't inflict all of the punishment on the Rebel defense as the offensive line gave them holes for a good start.
"We said in the very beginning we're going to hang our hats on our linemen and our tailbacks and that's what we did," Harp said. "[Quarterback] Christian [Haffner] did a good job managing the game. Our defense came up with plays as needed."
Franklin County also did well on the ground as D.J. Samuels racked up 139 yards on 17 carries, including a 6-yard touchdown. Jai Kinslow had 45 of his 49 yards on a touchdown run late in the third quarter to rally the Rebels within 19-17.
The Rebels fell to 0-2 despite making no big mistakes in the kicking game. Tyler Rhoton opened the scoring with a 34-yard field goal on the game's first play and hit both extra points.
PATs were an adventure for Lebanon as long-snapper Coleton Thomas went down with an injury.
"That hurt us really bad," Harp said. "Justin Brown is a good long snapper. It was jus this first time in there I'm sure as nervous as he could be. He had a couple of poor snaps, but that doesn't mean I'm going to be down on the kid. He'll be back."
Short scoring runs by Davis and Bruton opened a 13-3 lead late in the first half and the Blue Devils never trailed again, though Samuels' 6-yard score, after a 32-yard gain, brought the visitors within 13-10 by halftime.
Bruton and Davis scored a touchdown apiece in the fourth quarter as the defense allowed just one first down over the final 12 minutes to seal the deal.
Lebanon's early lead against Mt. Juliet last week had Blue Devil Nation encouraged despite eventually losing by 21 points before last night's win evened the 2013 count at 1-1 going into next Friday's 7 p.m. kickoff at District 9-AAA rival Hendersonville.
"These kids are hungry," Harp said. "They're long overdue. These kids deserve this. They've worked their tails off. They've done this since I came in Jan. 13. They've not stopped working since."
Lebanon 31, Franklin County 17
Franklin County 3 7 7 0—17
Lebanon 0 13 6 12—31
Franklin County — Tyler Rhoton 34 FG, 6:35.
Lebanon — Taye Davis 1 run [run failed], 10:10.
Lebanon — Karlton Bruton 3 run [Christian Haffner kick], 3:16.
Franklin County — D.J. Samuels 6 run [Rhoton kick], 1:58.
Lebanon — Davis 20 run [kick failed], 8:22.
Franklin County — Jai Kinslow 45 run [Rhoton kick], 2:53.
Lebanon — Bruton 1 run [pass failed], 9:23.
Lebanon — Davis 7 run [kick failed], 5:08.
Franklin County Lebanon
First downs 11 16
—Rushing 10 15
—Passing 0 0
—Penalty 1 1
Rushes-yards 43-209 37-254
Passing yards 13 8
Comp.-att.-int. 2-8-0 5-6-1
Punts-avg. 32.67 41.5
Penalties-yards 7-67 3-35
Fumbles lost 2 1
RUSHING — Franklin County: D.J. Samuels 17-139, Dalvin Russell 1-1, A.J. Blackwell 7-7, Tyler Rhoton 2-12, Javon Rice 7-19, Jai Kinslow 4-49, Dylan Griffin 4-[-19], Marcie Gray 1-1. Lebanon: Adam Hokanson 2-1, Karlton Bruton 14-80, Christian Haffner 2-, Taye Davis 19-177.
PASSING — Franklin County: Whitson Moore 1-4-0-7, Dylan Griffin 1-4-0-6. Lebanon: Christian Haffner 5-6-1-8.
RECEIVING — Franklin County: Joe McNeill 2-13. Lebanon: Harley Drennon 2-7, J'Quan Jackson 2-8, Taye Davis 1-[-7].
MISSED FIELD GOALS — None.