October 30, 2019

Franzoni Produces Spectacular Effort in Defeat As Hun Football Falls to Peddie in MAPL Showdown

TRIPPED UP: Hun School football player Ian Franzoni gets corralled in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior star Franzoni rushed for 192 yards and three touchdowns in a losing cause as Hun fell 35-32 to Peddie. The Raiders, now 6-2, wrap up their season by playing at Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) on November 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Ian Franzoni scored three long touchdowns for the Hun School football team, but it was small-yardage situations that were the undoing for the Raiders in a 35-32 loss to visiting Peddie last Saturday.

“Those types of things made a difference,” said Hun senior star running back and captain Franzoni. “We missed on three or four two-point conversions. We missed on the fourth down, that’s on me. It is what it is. We worked really hard. Those little short yardage things could have made a difference. You can’t change it now.”

Peddie improved to 7-0 while Hun dropped to 6-2. Their only other loss came at the hands of Life Christian Academy, a school in Virginia that plays a national schedule. Hun hadn’t won a game by less than 37 points on the field with a 44-7 win over Chesire Academy (Conn.) on September 7 being its closest game coming into Saturday. Hill forfeited to them October 12 and Hun routed Blair 50-12 on October 5 and Lawrenceville 54-7 on October 19. The sixth Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) school, Mercersburg Academy (Pa.), dropped football this year. Those circumstances made the game feel even bigger Saturday.

“In the league there aren’t really so many competitive games, so when this week rolls around we know we have to lock it in,” said Franzoni, who recently commited to attend Brown and play for its Ivy League football program.

“I felt like we had a good week of practice and we focused up. We know when Peddie week comes we have to focus up because that’s the big one. That’s the one we’re focusing on once the season’s over, during winter training, training in the spring, summer offseason, this is the day that’s marked on our calendars. We work really hard for this, so it’s a shame it ended up the way it did. With the league being the way it is, it really puts an emphasis on this game.”

Franzoni ran 17 times for 192 yards and two touchdowns, caught two passes for 74 yards and a touchdown and returned two kicks for 44 yards. Hun quarterback Logan Clouse went 11-for-24 for 201 yards with two touchdowns with one interception. On defense, Hun got an interception from Grant Hansen and raised the level of its play down the stretch.

“They gave us a chance to win it at the end,” said Franzoni. “I thought the defense did a great job with that. Obviously there are some things – there was a play with a blown coverage, and that could have had an impact on the game. Overall, they worked really hard and they put us in a position to win and the offense didn’t come up the way we needed to.”

The Hun defense halted Peddie’s final two possessions of the game, but the Raiders offense could not even get to midfield. Hun and Peddie each scored five touchdowns. Peddie kicked five extra points and scored the only points in the fourth quarter after a huge fourth-down defensive stop gave them a short field. Hun scored on just one of five attempted two-point conversions.

“It’s completely my fault,” said Hun head coach Todd Smith. “We weren’t ready, particularly in the extra point category. We left eight points off the board. Kudos to them. Our kids played well, they played hard. The defense stepped up when it needed to, the offense just didn’t come through. It’s a great football so we just have to figure it out. We’ll learn. We’ll regroup and get after it next week.”

Hun will end its season at Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) on November 3, giving the Raiders a chance to go out on a positive note after a heartbreaking loss.

“I thought we played a really hard game, it’s just some things didn’t work out in the end,” said Franzoni. “I’m proud of my guys for the effort we put out. Sometimes you end up on the other side. I thought we had a great season up to this point, played a hard game, but just some things down the line didn’t work out for us.”

The topsy-turvy contest started with a sloppy Peddie possession featuring three penalties and a fumble before Hun began its first possession at its own 16-yard line. After back-to-back short runs for Franzoni, Clouse moved Hun out of the shadow of its own end zone with a 37-yard completion to Keegan Woods on a crossing route. One play later, Clouse found Nick DeGennaro behind the defense for a 45-yard touchdown completion to make it 6-0.

Peddie took its first lead of the game, 7-6, on a 10-play, 40-yard drive on the next possession. Peddie went up, 14-6, late in the first quarter after sacking Clouse and forcing a fumble the Falcons recovered deep in Hun territory.

The Raiders roared back to life when Franzoni burst through the Peddie defense for an 81-yard touchdown run to bring the Raiders back within 14-12. Peddie, though, upped its lead to 21-12 on a broken coverage by Hun for a 49-yard touchdown pass.

The Raider defense stiffened up, stopping the Falcons after they got deep in Hun territory after a blocked punt. It only took one play for Hun to take advantage as Clouse lofted a screen pass to Franzoni on the left side, his blockers flattened the Peddie defense on the outside and Franzoni raced 74 yards for a touchdown. Clouse’s 2-point conversion pass to a wide-open Connor Deveney narrowed the deficit to 21-20 with 3:49 left in the second quarter. Hun ended the half with Hansen’s key interception to stay close.

Hun regained the lead, 26-21, with a nine-play, 80-yard drive aided by three Peddie penalties. Ahmad Dixon carried the ball on the final three plays of the drive, and shot out through the right side of the offensive line for a 12-yard touchdown run to finish the drive.

“The drive we had to open up the half was great,” said Smith. “We went down there and scored. Other than that it was big plays. We took what they were giving us.”

Peddie answered the Hun score on its first possession of the second half to go back in front of the Raiders, 28-26, with 3:30 left in the third quarter. Thirteen seconds later, Hun had the lead again.

On Hun’s first play after the Peddie score, Franzoni zipped through a hole in the right side of the line for an 80-yard touchdown run to bring his rushing total to 191 yards for the day and give Hun a 32-28 lead going into the fourth quarter.

“I thought our line did a really good job today,” said Franzoni.

“You might look at those big plays and say something about me, but it’s really the line that did a great job and opened up the holes. They did their job and I did my job and it worked out. Coach Smith put us in a great position to win. He called the plays and did a great job with that and we came out and executed when we did, but then on the short yardage plays we struggled.”

It was all-or-nothing for the Hun offense, and in the fourth quarter, there was more of the latter. Hun’s defense forced a Peddie punt and the Raiders had the ball as the game moved into the fourth quarter. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Franzoni was stopped on fourth-and-1 from Hun’s own 17. Franzoni’s final five carries of the game netted just 1 yard.

Peddie took the lead for good, 35-32, on a 21-yard touchdown pass from its back-up quarterback on third down-and-14 after getting the ball back in the red zone. There was still 10:22 left in the game, but Hun turned the ball over on downs in its next two possessions and Clouse’s final pass was intercepted when his intended target was pushed out of bounds.

“Our defense played well,” said Smith. “We came up with stops when we needed them. It was a sloppy game on both sides and we definitely had a chance to win. The buck stops with me. Everything that happened today was all on me.”

Franzoni and the Raiders will look to go out with a win at Wyoming Seminary. After that, the star running back will shift his focus to preparing for the next level, getting ready to play for Brown.

“I think we have one of the best coaching staffs in the state for sure,” said Franzoni.

“Being around such a competitive team has helped. Day in and day out, practicing against Division I guys every day helps, and being coached up by some great coaches has helped. It’ll definitely make the transition easier to the next level just being in a competitive environment like I’ve been in the past four years has helped.”

Having gone from being a back-up for the past three years to a team captain for a Hun squad that came a score away from winning the MAPL title has made it a memorable fall for Franzoni.

“It’s meant a lot to me,” said Franzoni. “I feel honored that the coaching staff and my teammates have recognized me as someone that can lead the team in a way that they want to. I knew when I got elected as a captain, I had to step up as a leader and lead by example. That’s what I try to do in the offseason, punch the clock when you need to and work as hard as you can so my guys can follow and try to have the most success this season that we can.”