FRANKLIN — Columbus North High School junior running back Mitchell Burton put his sprinter’s speed on display.
Burton ran 11 times for 219 yards and four touchdowns, all in the first half, in Columbus North’s 54-7 rout of host Franklin on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
“The line did great (Friday), there were great reads,” Burton said. “The holes were open. I just took them and ran as fast as I could.”
Burton has had four touchdowns before but never with such long runs. His 91-yard TD run was the longest of his career and that includes any level.
“I was pretty excited,” Burton said. “We’re in pretty good shape. The offense looked great both passing and running.”
Columbus North coach Tim Bless smiled thinking about Burton going around end and senior receiver Alex Algee’s showing. Algee caught nine passes for 204 yards, including a 79-yard TD catch.
“It’s a blessing to have good team speed and we were able to get in the green grass and outrun the defense and make big plays,” Bless said.
The Bull Dogs had a commanding 669-110 lead in total yards.
“I’m very pleased with how we played,” Bless said. “Everyone wants to win decisively. I think at the line of scrimmage is where we had a great discrepancy. Our defensive front really stymied them early in the game. We got four turnovers in the first half, one of them was on special teams and three on defense. That set our offense up in great field position and they were able to capitalize.”
The Bull Dogs’ starters completely dominated, leading 44-0 at the half. The Bull Dogs, who were ahead 24-0 after the first quarter, held a 436-63 edge in total offense in the first half. It could have been worse as the Bull Dogs took a knee at the Franklin 17 to let the clock run out before intermission.
The Grizzly Cubs suffered four first-half turnovers, three fumbles and an interception.
The speedy Burton started the scoring with a 44-yard TD run. The next drive stalled and the Bull Dogs’ Mark Salle-Tabor kicked a 33-yard field goal.
Burton added TD runs of 6, 60 and 91 in the opening half.
Bull Dogs junior quarterback Triston Perry threw touchdown passes of 35 and 79 yards to Algee. Perry completed 9-of-11 passes for 188 yards.
Columbus North started the second half with Tanner Payne at quarterback. The Bull Dogs had a nearly five-minute drive before settling for a 28-yard field goal by Salle-Tabor to boost the lead to 47-0.
The Grizzly Cubs followed with their best drive of the game, before fumbling and the Bull Dogs’ J.D. Harris recovered the ball at their own 24. The Bull Dogs followed with another long drive, which was curtailed when Cole Miller intercepted Payne at the goal line.
Franklin finally got on the scoreboard when Zach Dowell recovered a fumble and returned it 42 yards with 9:08 left in the fourth quarter.
Third-string quarterback Jaylen Flemmons guided the final drive for the Bull Dogs, capping it with a 4-yard TD run.
“We’re really pleased with how our varsity kids played, but the substitutes came in and executed and then our JV players came in and executed,” Bless said.