ST. PETERSBURG — P.J. Franklin emerged from the large shadow of Brent O'Neal to lead Canterbury past Naples St. John Neumann 36-8 in Friday's Class 2A region quarterfinal.
O'Neal, who entered with 1,867 rushing yards, 355 receiving yards and 33 touchdowns, played only a few snaps. The Crusaders did not disclose his injury. But after the game, he had ice on his left shoulder.
In O'Neal's place, Franklin ran for 125 yards and three touchdowns in Canterbury's first playoff game in school history.
"P.J.'s performance was awesome," Crusader coach Bill Jones said. "We wanted Brent to get some touches but tried to limit them."
The Crusaders fumbled on the first possession, but their defense forced a punt. On the ensuing drive, O'Neal's 44-yard run led to Franklin's first touchdown, a 6-yarder.
Later, Canterbury took over at its 25 and marched down the field behind the running of Franklin and quarterback Jake Holsinger. Franklin scored from 9 yards, dragged defenders into the end zone. After forcing a three-and-out, Franklin and Holsinger got some help from Sammy Faucette, whose 5-yard run made it 20-0.
Down 22-0, the Celtics showed signs of life. Quarterback Dylan Woods capped a 53-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring run and completed a two-point conversion to Johnny Augustin.
But DaSeans Thomas returned the ensuing kickoff 79 yards for a score, and Holsinger intercepted Woods in the end zone soon after.