Clark, Crocker leading Panthers’ resurgence under first-year head coach Justin Geisinger
There’s a different feeling around the Franklin Road Academy program these days, and it’s showing in the Panthers’ results the first three weeks.
Thanks to a relentless defensive effort and another big night from Ty Clark III, FRA opened region play with a 35-7 victory at Davidson Academy.
Clark rolled up 270 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries and has 659 yards and eight touchdowns in three games to start the season.
“It’s these guys,” Clark said while pointing at Crocker and describing the offensive line. “Without them, I can’t go anywhere.”
Clark found the end zone from 15 and nine yards in the first half as the Panthers jumped out to a 21-7 halftime lead. Quarterback Logan Kinnard added a 4-yard score between Clark’s end zone ventures in the second quarter.
Davidson Academy (0-2 overall, 0-1 Division II-AA Middle) tied things up at 7-7 when Knox Roberts hit Josiah Moore with a 24-yard touchdown pass with 9:50 to go in the first half. Moore caught seven passes for 80 yards.
But that was largely it for the Bears, who were without top wideout Courtland Simmons due to an ankle injury.
“We knew that (Quinn) was notorious for showing multiple formations and different looks,” Geisinger said. For the most part, we were lined up to it right all night long.”
Clark Langley’s interception in the end zone gave the Bears some third-quarter life, but the offense simply couldn’t get going.
“(FRA) came out very physical and played fast, played with a lot of effort and it showed in their end result,” Davidson Academy head coach Jonathan Quinn said. “I think we had moments where we moved the ball well, and then we just really hurt ourselves. We didn’t execute very sharp and at this level, you can’t have poor execution.”
Clark broke through the middle for a 24-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach late in the third quarter and scored on a 74-yarder in the fourth.
“Ty’s a special kid,” FRA first-year head coach Justin Geisinger said. “Not just a special football player, but the type of young man he is.”
It’s FRA’s first 3-0 start since 2015, when the Panthers started 11-0 before falling to USJ in the Division II-Class A quarterfinals.
The Panthers have taken to Geisinger and his staff and the early returns show plenty of promise.
“It’s been great so far,” FRA senior tackle and Mississippi State commit Joe Crocker said. “He’s tough on me. Him and (offensive line coach Matt Hanson), they expect a lot out of me as a person, as a leader. As a player, they’ve helped me a lot with technique … it’s really paid off to have someone who’s played at the highest level to help mentor me as a person and as a player as well.”
Clark’s eyes lit up when he was asked about the difference between this season and last.
“The atmosphere with the new coaches, everybody seems to be bought in,” Clark said. “Everybody wants to win – not saying we didn’t want to last year, but you can tell the presence is there.”
It’s the first road game for FRA in a stretch where the Panthers will play five out of the next six games away from home. Among that group of games includes region trips to Lipscomb Academy (Sept. 16) and CPA (Sept. 30).
Davidson Academy will look for its first win of the season at Hunters Lane on Friday.