FRANKFORT — Ryan Timmons has made a lot of great plays for Franklin County in his career, but he topped them all on Friday night.
After Anderson County's Joe Rose kicked a 24-yard field goal to give the Bearcats a 52-50 lead with 14 seconds left, Franklin County's unbeaten season looked doomed.
Timmons had other ideas.
"I had to score," he said later. "And I knew I would."
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On the ensuing kickoff, Lorenzo McCaskell had trouble picking up the ball, but finally got it and shoveled it to Timmons at the 20-yard line.
Timmons then did his magic. He veered to his right to avoid the first wave of defenders, cut back to the left, found lots of running room and sped his way to the end zone as time expired, giving the Flyers a 56-52 victory.
Franklin County's fans flooded the field in celebration, while Anderson County's players dropped to the ground in disappointment.
Flyers Coach Chris Tracy said Timmons' 80-yard game-winning return was "absolutely, 100 percent, the best play he's ever made.
"That's why he's the best player in the state.
"You can tell people what he does, but unless they see it for themselves, see it live, they can't appreciate it."
Anderson County Coach Mark Peach agreed.
"What can you say? I know (Trinity star) James Quick gets a lot of ink, but he can't be any better than Ryan Timmons. There's no way. To me, he's Mr. Football.
"I've gotta see James Quick. If he's that good, we should give out two Mr. Footballs."
Timmons' electrifying return capped another Franklin County shootout victory.
The Flyers were averaging 60 points going into the Class 5A district showdown with Anderson County, but their defense has been shaky. Last week Franklin County outgunned Woodford County 76-55.
Anderson County was almost the last team standing Friday night.
Sophomore QB Zach Carmichael had a big night. He threw for 288 yards and four touchdowns, and had three 1-yard runs for scores. Ross Cox and Granville Hayes each had more than 100 yards receiving.
Hayes and Dusty Puckett had two TD catches apiece.
"I couldn't be more proud of my guys. We gave a valiant effort," Peach said. "If (Franklin County) is touted as the best in the east in 5A, we're right there with them."
Franklin County countered with its own offensive arsenal. Senior QB Logan Woodside threw for 300 yards and five TDs. (Woodside also had two key interceptions on defense.)
Greg Maupin caught three passes for 154 yards and two TDs, and ran for a score. McCaskell ran for a TD and caught a TD pass.
Timmons had only four net yards in the first half, but he came through with big numbers in the second half.
He caught a 29-yard TD strike from Woodside, and turned a bubble screen into a 43-yard TD. He added a two-point conversion run to that second score, giving the Flyers a 50-49 lead with two minutes left.
Anderson County answered with Rose's field goal to take a 52-50 lead with only 14 seconds left.
For Timmons, that was just enough time to add to his Franklin County legend.
Anderson County 7 14 14 17—52
Franklin County 7 7 21 21—56
FC—Greg Maupin 64 pass from Logan Woodside (Zachary Durham kick). AC—Dusty Puckett 20 pass from Zach Carmichael (Joe Rose kick). FC—Lorenzo McCaskell 54 pass from Woodside (Durham kick). AC—Granville Hayes 20 pass from Carmichael (Rose kick). AC—Carmichael 1 run (Rose kick). FC—Maupin 9 run (Durham kick). AC—Carmichael 1 run (Rose kick). FC—Ryan Timmons 29 pass from Woodside (Durham kick). AC—Puckett 22 pass from Carmichael (Rose kick). FC—Maupin 41 pass from Woodside (Durham kick). FC--McCaskell 18 run (Durham kick). AC—Hayes 24 pass from Carmichael (Rose kick). AC—Carmichael 1 run (Rose kick). FC—Timmons 43 pass from Woodside (Timmons run). AC—Rose 24 field goal. FC—Timmons 80 kickoff return.
Records: Anderson County 6-2; Franklin County 9-0