In the first half of Friday night's game at Livonia Franklin, Plymouth's football team rolled the dice.
In the second half, the Wildcats rolled the Patriots.
Locked in a scoreless battle with Franklin, senior do-everything player Vic Hicks took a short snap on a fake punt and squirted 42 yards for the touchdown that sparked the Wildcats' 24-7 victory.
Plymouth's defense took over in the second half, clamping down on a Franklin offense that has given three of its four opponents fits this season.
With the win, Plymouth improved to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the KLAA South Division heading into Friday's homecoming game against Westland John Glenn.
The Patriots dropped to 3-2 and 1-2, respectively.
"Again, we started slow," lamented Plymouth coach Mike Sawchuk. We had to jump-start it with the fake punt to Vic. We trapped their end outside and Vic made a nice run.
"Maybe we should just start our games in the second half. For whatever reason, it's been taking us a while to turn it up. We really shut them down on defense in the second half."
Junior running back Donte Fox led a balanced Plymouth offensive attack with 91 yards on 11 carries. Jerel Jenkins complemented Fox's effort with 64 yards on 18 hauls and Hicks finished with 52 yards on three carries.
Junior quarterback Shaun Austin completed 5 of 18 passes for 77 yards and a 34-yard scoring strike to senior receiver Brennen Beyer.
Tino Benavides paced the Patriots' offense, churning out 101 yards on 19 rushes.
Franklin quarterback Brent Marzion completed just 8 of 24 passes for 74 yards. Adedamola Adebiyi picked off a pass in his first start of the season in the Wildcats' secondary.
"We've been having some coverage issues, so we put Adedamola in there tonight and he did a great job," said Sawchuk, who also praised the defensive work of Tony Rhodes and Beyer.
After Hicks' 42-yard TD run staked Plymouth to a 7-0 lead 7:52 before halftime, Franklin countered with an impressive drive that was capped by Dan Muller's 11-yard TD run.
Plymouth snapped the 7-7 tie on its first second-half drive when Austin connected with Beyer with a 34-yard spiral to make it 14-7.
Senior place-kicker Kyle Brindza upped the Wildcats' lead to 17-7 90 seconds later and Jenkins tacked on a 5-yard touchdown run with five minutes left in the game.
Plymouth outgained Franklin, 292-244, in total yardage.
Ed Wright can be reached at (734) 453-1980 or firstname.lastname@example.org.