FRANKLIN — For the past two seasons, Thanksgiving didn’t serve as a day of rest for King Philip.
Yesterday was no different even with the Warriors’ third straight Super Bowl appearance looming.
KP played all of its starters, with Ryan Halliday carrying the ball 36 times for 182 yards and two touchdowns, while a strong defensive effort also helped the Warriors earn their ninth straight Thanksgiving Day win over Franklin, 23-16, at Pisini Field.
“We certainly knew how well Franklin had been playing,” said KP coach Brian Lee. “It wasn’t like we thought we could come over here and play a quarter and rest some guys. We knew it was going to be a battle.”
KP (9-2) controlled the first half, allowing Franklin (7-4) to run only one offensive play in the second quarter.
A Sam Callanan interception set up a 20-yard touchdown run from Halliday less than two minutes into the game before a 1-yard sneak from Robbie Jarest capped a 12-play drive and gave KP a 16-3 halftime lead.
Franklin got within a score late in the third quarter. Two plays after Ryan Driscoll blocked a punt, he caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Nick Gordon.
The Panthers got the ball to start the fourth quarter with a chance to tie the game, but Callanan forced a fumble and Halliday scored on the next play on a 14-yard run to take a 23-9 lead.
Franklin answered with a 75-yard touchdown pass from Gordon to Owen Palmieri, but the Panthers couldn’t crack King Philip’s defense again.
“Lean on (Halliday) on offense and lean on our defense and make things happen that way,” Lee said.
While many schools moved their Thanksgiving games to Wednesday due to the extreme cold, Lee had no problem playing in the frigid elements.
“No. That’s ridiculous,” said Lee on if he had any regrets on not moving the game. “The world is so soft now. It’s the wussification of the world. It’s Thanksgiving Day. Isn’t it supposed to be cold? … How cold was it really? It wasn’t that bad.”