MANSFIELD -- Somehow, Everman running back Cory Franklin’s ear-to-ear smile actually grew wider when the announcement was made at Vernon Newsom Stadium that the Texas Rangers had beaten the New York Yankees.
“Did you hear that?’’ Franklin said to those in earshot. “We won and the Rangers did, too!’’
Franklin, a 5-foot-10, 176-pound senior who admits to being a big Rangers fan, rushed for 237 yards and three touchdowns in Everman’s 56-35 victory over Mansfield Summit Friday night that clinched the Bulldogs‘ 12th straight playoff appearance.
Everman (6-2, 5-0 District 7-4A), No. 5 in ESPNDallas.com Class 4A rankings, broke open a 35-35 deadlock by outscoring No. 7 Summit 21-0 in the fourth quarter.
“It’s a great feeling to beat one of the best teams in our district,’’ Franklin said. “At halftime we talked about just going right at them and tiring them out. We weren’t worried about going into the fourth quarter being tied.’’
A see-saw game turned Everman’s way on the fourth play of the fourth quarter when versatile James Bailey capped a 62-yard scoring march with a 12-yard touchdown run for a 42-35 lead.
With just over eight minutes remaining, a gambe by Summit (6-2, 4-1) on fourth-and-3 from its 27 failed when Lewis Washington was tackled a yard short of the first down by outside linebacker Tory Boozer.
It took Everman just two plays to turn the gamble into points, with Franklin doing the honors on a 20-yard run for a 49-35 lead.
“Stopping them on fourth down gave us momentum,’’ Everman coach Dale Keeling said. “I was really surprised we put up 56 points on Summit. They really have a good defense.’’
Facing a 14-point deficit at its 39 and needing a yard with 4:22 remaining, Summit gambled again on fourth-and-1 and again came up short.
Franklin broke a 39-yard touchdown run on the next play to end any doubt.
The game was loaded with big plays from both sides.
Everman turned a 21-21 halftime deadlock into a 35-21 lead with two grinding touchdown drives with all the yards coming on the ground.
Summit rallied to tie it with two long scoring plays, a 61-yard run by quarterback Xavier Williams and a 51-yard draw play by Washington.
The Jaguars’ passing attack accounted for two scores and set up the third in the first half.
After being victimized by Everman’s Antonio Williams on an 85-yard interception return on the game’s first series, Xavier Williams took advantage of a blown coverage to hit Michael Lester for a 53-yard touchdown and a brief 7-6 lead.
With Summit trailing 14-7 and Xavier Williams receiving treatment for an injury, Jaguars backup quarterback Donovan Ellis led his team on a tying 44-yard scoring drive.
Ellis connected with Lester on a 13-yard slant in the end zone to make it 14-14.
Xavier Williams’ return in the final four minutes of the first half sparked a 67-yard scoring drive for Summit’s first lead. Washington’s 1-yard touchdown run was set up by the quarterback’ 56-yard connection to Jaylon Singleton.
Promising Everman freshman running back Terrance Cook flashed some of his break-away speed on a a 46-yard scoring that staked the Bulldogs to a 14-7 lead with the aid of Bailey’s conversion run.
Everman drove 68 yards in the final two minutes of the first half for a 21-21 halftime tie. Quarterback Devynn Birdow fumbled a snap at the Summit 2, but managed to pick up the ball and fight through a pile of players into the end zone. The touchdown came with five seconds remaining in the half and Everman was out of timeouts. Had he been ruled short of the goal line, there was a good chance Everman wouldn’t have gotten off another play.