Ethen Knox Returns for Oil City as Oilers Topple Gritty Franklin in the Rt. 8 Rivalry, 36-15

| September 17, 2023

FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) — Ethen Knox was back after missing last week’s game due to a nagging ankle injury.

Franklin was set on stopping the Oil City star.

And, the Knights did … for a while. But Knox and the Oilers got things going after getting stopped on their first three possessions and Knox rumbled for nearly 260 yards — most coming in the second half — in the 36-15 win over Franklin in the Rt. 8 Rivalry on Saturday night.

(Pictured above, Oil City players celebrate after a win over rival Frankin/photos by Ricard Sayer of Eight & 322)

“Franklin’s Good,” said Oil City coach Dan York. “Franklin’s going to win some games if they play like that, I mean they’re tough. They gave us all we wanted. Hats off to them, they played real well.”

Franklin came out and stopped Oil City on the first three times the Oilers had the ball and then went up 8-0 halfway through the second quarter.

But the Oilers struck back taking a 14-8 lead into halftime.

Franklin High School and Oil City Area High School sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Redbank Chevrolet and DuBrook.


Going into the half only one score down was a big accomplishment for Franklin coach Matt Turk’s squad.

In their last four meetings against Oil City under Turk, the Knights have only managed to score 14 points while giving up a whopping 261.

The game started as expected, Oil City’s Ethen Knox got a handoff and nearly broke one around the corner, finally pushed out of bounds after 14 yards.

But then nothing.

Franklin looked as though they were going to move the ball with a long run, but that was called back for a holding penalty. Oil City tightened and snuffed them ending with a Henry Milford sack of Jason Carey.

Nathan Pfennigwerth had a big punt pushing the Oilers back to start from their 30-yard line.

As always, the Oil City game plan was giving the ball to Knox.

(Oil City running back Ethen Knox breaks into the open field against Franklin)

Franklin was ready, holding the senior running back to just 27 yards on his first 13 carries.

The Knights got on the board first thanks to a 33-yard pass from Carey to Trystin Boocks on third-and-10 down to the 2.

Bryson Watson plowed his way into the end zone for the first score of the game with six and a half minutes left in the half. Cole Buckley, in to hold for the extra point, took the snap on a fake and ran around the end for two points.

The Knights had their first lead against the Oilers in many years.

Not to be outdone by a big pass play, Oil City, from their own 24 decided to not hand off to Knox again, rather Findlay heaved one over the middle toward a sprinting De’Vaughn Griffin, who was taken down at the 15 after a 61-yard gain.

Knox capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run. He also scored on a 2-point conversion to make it 8-8.

Franklin got the ball back with just under four minutes in the half. Facing a third-and-18, Carey’s pass was tipped and then intercepted. But on the next play, Oil City tried to pass again and Franklin intercepted it right back.

Watson had a couple of runs moving Franklin from the 28 to midfield. But again a holding penalty drove the ball backward and Franklin couldn’t get going again and decided to punt.

Oil City took advantage as Sean Alexander had a monster return, setting the Oilers up in good field position at the 22 with enough time to score again.

A couple of good runs for Knox set up a 10-yard pass from Findlay to Justen Dunkle for the touchdown with about 30 seconds left in the half for a 14-8 lead.

Franklin decided to go into half one touchdown down.

“We gave up that touchdown, but the difference between that and last year is that we knew we were getting the ball back, we were very comfortable,” Turk said. “We made some great adjustments and came back fired up.”

Franklin’s opening drive of the second half was crippled by a couple more penalties, followed by a Findlay interception, setting the Oilers up at the Franklin 41.

York also said they made some adjustments at halftime, mostly on blocking assignments he said. And it resulted in Knox runs of 13 and 24 yards that eventually set up a 6-yard Knox touchdown with 8:21 left in the third.

Franklin was undaunted and put together a 62-yard drive with sophomore Watson doing much of the work, including a 34-yard scamper to set up an Alex Wible bulldozing 12-yard touchdown. After Pfennigwerth’s extra point, the Knights were again only a touchdown away again.

But those York adjustments were just too much.

The Knights held Knox to under 70 yards in the first half, but couldn’t contain him in the second. Knox ended with 256 yards on 44 carries on the night, including two more long touchdown runs of 19 and 60 yards to put the game out of reach in the third quarter.

Knox was kept out of the defensive scheme for the Oilers to help him get back after an ankle injury kept him out of last week’s loss to North East.

Franklin’s Watson had around the century mark himself running the football.

“Bryson had a great game, I’m very proud of him,” said Turk.

“Mad respect to the Oil City staff, they literally kneeled on the ball with plenty of time left, but that’s mad respect to us, we have the utmost respect for them.”

Franklin heads north next week to face the tough Mercyhurst Lakers who are 4-0 after shutting out Northwestern 72-0 Saturday night.

“(Mercyhurst is) one of the best in our region and we’re going to have our hands full. We wipe the slate clean and we get back to work on Monday,” Turk said.

Oil City will host Northwestern who have yet to win and have only scored 34 points thus far.

Story by Richard Sayer

Franklin High School and Oil City Area High School sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Redbank Chevrolet and DuBrook.

Copyright © 2023 EYT Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of the contents of this service without the express written consent of EYT Media Group, Inc. is expressly prohibited.

Category: Franklin, Local News, Oil City, Schools, Sports