ENGLEWOOD – For one quarter, Florence managed to bottle up running back Jaden Franklin.
The sophomore running back owned the rest of the game, exploding for 319 yards on just 21 carries with five touchdowns as Florence had no answer defensively in a 42-16 Sun Devils victory Saturday in a 2A semifinal game at Justin DiSorrento Memorial Field.
“He’s a quick kid, breaks tackles and is physical,” Huskies running back and defensive back Johnnie Krien said. “We didn’t wrap up on defense. We tried to minimize his touches, but it seemed like every time he got the ball, he got big yards.”
Kent Denver (12-0) turned the tables on Florence (10-2) by beating the Huskies in both meetings in 2012. It was a reversal of fortunes from last season, when Florence beat Kent twice, including a 52-35 verdict in the 2A state title game.
Franklin ran for 278 yards and four touchdowns against the Huskies in the first meeting this year, and his performance on Saturday put him at 2,075 yards and 28 touchdowns this season.
The Huskies limited him to 31 yards on five carries in the first quarter, keeping him on the sidelines early with drives that spanned 10 and 11 plays -- the second of which was caped by a 9-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Zach Hoxie with 9:13 left in the second quarter.
But it all changed on the second play of the ensuing drive. Franklin took a pitch from quarterback Joey Matarazzo, followed his blockers around the left end, cut back, slipped into an opening and outran the secondary en route to a 69-yard run to tie the game at 7.
He was just getting started.
He touched the ball eight more times in the quarter and had touchdown runs of 4 and 1 yards, the latter aided by a Matt Pettyjohn interception that gave Kent Denver the ball at the Florence 20. By halftime, Franklin had 153 yards on just 13 carries.
He continued where he left off on the opening drive of the second half, turning the second play of the drive into a 74-yard jaunt. He stayed on the field well into the fourth quarter, with the game well in hand, and finished his five-touchdown day with a 7-yard run with 8:39 left.
“Coach (Scott Yates) wanted to take me out, but I begged him to put me back in,” an all-smiles Franklin said. “I love playing football. It’s better when we win. My line played great and our whole team played great. They’re a good team, but we wore them down.”
Hoxie, who ran for 111 yards and added 127 yards through the air, accounted for both Huskies touchdowns, rushing for a 3-yarder on the first play of the fourth quarter that cut the deficit to 35-16.
Scott Sandoval, one of just eight Huskies seniors, rushed for 62 yards. He hoped the team’s workmanlike attitude in the fourth quarter, even with the final outcome more than decided, would make a statement for the future -- one that will not include longtime coach Mark Buderus, who is retiring after 29 seasons.
“The guys next year just need to keep practicing hard and playing hard,” Sandoval said. “I’d say go all out because they might get another chance at this team. Big plays are how they win, and it’s all in preparation.”