Franklin, Ind. - Two touchdowns in the final 5:15 gave the Franklin College football team a thrilling 43-39 come-from-behind victory over No. 11-ranked Thomas More College in the season opener Saturday night under the lights at Faught Stadium.
Junior split end Tanner Wroblewski caught a seven-yard pass in the right corner of the end zone from junior quarterback Chase Burton with 32 seconds remaining in the game to give the Grizzlies their first lead of the night, 42-39. An extra point by junior placekicker Stephen Colligan gave the team an important four-point edge.
Earlier, Burton found senior running back Ty'Ronte Files on a 25-yard pass play with 5:15 left to cut Thomas More's lead to 39-36.
The Saints proceeded to take the ensuing kickoff and, taking precious time off the clock, drove the ball to Franklin's 2-yard line. That's when junior defensive back Ryan Conner forced and recovered a fumble at the 1-yard line with 2:25 remaining in the game.
Burton completed 8 of 10 passes for 90 yards over the next 1:59 in the game-winning drive, which culminated in the pass to Wroblewski.
Then, four straight incomplete passes kept Thomas More from making a late drive of its own.
The Saints enjoyed a 25-14 halftime lead and scored on the first play of the second half to push the margin to 32-14. Franklin closed out the third quarter with two touchdowns, the first on a 15-yard pass from Burton to junior split end Lee Wroblewski and the second coming on a 1-yard run by Files. Two extra points by Colligan brought the hosts to within four points, 32-28.
Thomas More increased its lead early in the fourth quarter to 39-28. That's when the Grizzlies scored two touchdowns, had a two-point conversion, and the one-point kick in the final minutes.
Burton, who was the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference's 2015 Offensive Most Valuable Player, completed 51 out of 67 passes for 514 yards and five touchdowns. Thirteen of his passes went to junior wingback Darrell Crenshaw for 104 yards, while junior split end Deontez Alexander caught a dozen passes for a game-high 164 yards. Lee Wroblewski caught eight passes for 73 yards and his brother Tanner had seven catches for 82 yards. Each of the four receivers caught a touchdown pass from Burton.
Files rushed 23 times for 60 yards and one touchdown. He also caught a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Franklin and Thomas More were both champions of their conferences in 2015 and reached the NCAA Division III playoffs.
The Grizzlies (1-0) travel to NCAA Division I-FCS non-scholarship Butler University on Saturday, September 10 at 6:30 p.m. from the Butler Bowl in downtown Indianapolis.