The Franklin Cougars knocked off Canutillo 21-20 to open up the 2015 season in a close, competitive game that came down to the wire.  The victory marked the second consecutive season that the Cougars defeated the Eagles in the opener.  Both teams began the first quarter by scoring on their first possession.

The Cougars received the opening kickoff and scored in less than a minute as quarterback Brandon Mueller found his wide receiver Gunner Romney for a 56-yard catch and run touchdown to put Franklin up 7-0.  Canutillo wasn't intimidated by the Cougars' ability to score early and came back with their own scoring drive when Eagles' QB Daniel Alvarez called his own number and scored a 5 yard touchdown on a read option to the left side of the end zone.

Both teams were tied at 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.  It appeared that we were in for a potential offensive shootout before a defensive battle ensued in the second quarter.  The teams headed into the locker room knotted up at 7-7.  Once the third quarter began both offenses got back on track.  First Canutillo running back Aaron Moya scored on a 16 yard touchdown run to put the Eagles up 14-7 at the 9:08 mark.  Then Franklin came right back and tied up the contest again as QB Brandon Mueller found wide out Eric Phillips for an 18 yard touchdown strike.

Things got interesting in the fourth quarter as Franklin committed the only turnover of the game when wide receiver Luis Baca fumbled a Canutillo punt into the end zone and it was recovered  for a defensive touchdown by Eagles' RB Aaron Maya.  Canutillo's good fortune quickly became a disadvantage though as they missed the extra point to take the 20-14 lead; clearly something that came back to haunt the Eagles.

Photo by Brandon Cohn

Franklin rebounded as running back Michael Faimalo scored on a 7 yard touchdown run with 8:15 remaining in the 4th quarter to give the Cougars the narrow 21-20 lead.  Franklin looked like they were on their way to the easy victory when they had the ball at mid field with under 2 minutes to play before Canutillo's defense stepped up to give their team one last chance to win the game.

The Eagles got the ball with 1:04 left with no timeouts when quarterback Daniel Alvarez found his wide out Caleb Cassio for a 27 yard completion and then Christian Martinez for a remarkable 35 yard reception to get Canutillo down to the 18 yard line with 15 seconds left.  The Eagles then attempted the game winning field goal which went wide right, game over right?  Not the case because Franklin coach Daren Walker had called a timeout in an attempt to ice Canutillo kicker Jonathan Ochoa.  The Eagles attempted another field goal to seal the miraculous win, but this time it was blocked by Franklin's defensive line.

This epic contest clearly lived up to the hype, and when it's all said and done could be the game of the year.  Franklin, 1-0 will travel to Las Cruces to face Mayfield next week, while Canutillo, 0-1 will host Eastwood next Friday night.