BY BRIAN HAMILTON
SEYMOUR – The King’s Academy survived a shootout with Grace Franklin on Friday night, winning 55-36 after seeing its lead trimmed to five points in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense has been the backbone of this team all season,” TKA head coach Jonathan Sellers said after the game. “Grace scored a couple more points than we’re used to giving up usually, but those guys are going to get it fixed and they’re going to be ready to go next week.”
TKA drew first blood on the first offensive possession when Elijah Williams-Smith found Marshaun Bowers for a 46-yard touchdown to put the Lions ahead 7-0.
Grace Franklin would answer when Kyle Davidson hit Nick Driskill for a 52-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was good, giving the Lions an 8-7 lead with 8:21 left in the first quarter.
Two field goals by Josh Campanali would give TKA a 13-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
A 1-yard Kade Clarke touchdown run would put Grace Franklin back in front 15-13 with 5:59 left in the second quarter, but TKA would answer, as Nakelin McAfee ran for a 16-yard touchdown to give the Lions a 20-15 lead.
The King’s Academy scored two more touchdowns before halftime on touchdown passes from Williams-Smith to Bowers — the second and third scoring connections for the due. The Lions would take a 34-15 lead at the half.
Grace Franklin opened the third quarter with a touchdown strike from Davidson to Sammy Comacho, cutting the Lions’ deficit to 34-22.
McAfee would later answer with a 4-yard touchdown run, increasing the TKA lead to 41-22 with 4:28 left in the third quarter.
Davidson later found Driskill for a 63-yard touchdown, pulling Grace Franklin to within 41-30 after a successful two-point conversion attempt.
The teams were scoreless in the fourth quarter until Nathan Greene went into the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown, pulling Grace Franklin to within five, at 41-36 with 4:44 left in the game.
Williams-Smith answered on the ensuing drive with a 53-yard touchdown run to stretch the TKA lead to 48-36 with 3:49 left.
After a Grace Franklin three-and-out, Williams-Smith would hook up with junior receiver Zeke Connaster for an 8-yard touchdown with 1:24 left to give TKA a 55-36 win.
Williams-Smith led the TKA with 195 yards and four touchdowns on 10-for-27 passing, while also rushing for 103 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
McAfee led all players in rushing with 152 yards and two scores on 24 carries. Marshaun Bowers finished with 102 yards receiving and three touchdowns.
The King’s Academy (8-3) will travel to the Central Time Zone next week to face the University School of Jackson (8-2) in the second round of the TSSAA Division II-A playoffs on Friday. The Bruins are coming off a first-round bye.