The Opening Kick
After nearly a month away from home, the Franklin College football team returns to action at Faught Stadium on homecoming Saturday. The Grizzlies aim to stay unbeaten in conference play when they take on the Mount St. Joseph Lions on Saturday afternoon.
Last Time Out
There was a lot on the line last Saturday when the Grizzlies traveled to Rose-Hulman for a showdown between the last unbeaten teams in the HCAC. The game did not disappoint those in attendance, as the Grizzlies and Fightin' Engineers battled each other evenly through 60 minutes. In the end, Franklin was able to avenge last year's lone HCAC loss to Rose-Hulman, coming away with a 29-22 win.
Chase Burton threw for 467 yards, accounting for three touchdowns with his arm and one with his legs. But the story of the day was the Grizzlies' offensive line, who held the nation's top pass rush without a sack while allowing senior running back Jordan Brown to rack up a career-high 166 yards on 34 carries.
Defensively, the Grizzlies put down the clamps on the quick-strike Rose-Hulman offense late to secure the win. The Engineers did not record a first down in the fourth quarter, giving the efficient Grizzly offense the chance to run out the clock.
A complete recap is available on page 12 of the game notes.
About Mount St. Joseph
Tyler Hopperton is in his first years as head coach of Mount St. Joseph, and has his team sitting at 5-3 record overall and 4-2 in conference play. The Lions had a record-setting week against Anderson last time out, as they set program record for total offense in a game (709 yards), passing yards in a game (500 yards), and total points in a 71-27 win.
Quarterback Chaiten Tomlin led the Lions, completing 27 of 48 attempts for an even 500 yards and nine touchdown passes. His nine touchdowns would tie a 15-year old NCAA DIII record for touchdown passes in a game. Tomlin now leads the conference with 30 touchdowns, and is ranked second in passing yards per game (277.3 yards). Juniors A.J. Gilnes and Grayson Roberts lead the receiving core with team-highs of 30 receptions. Roberts leads the lions with a total of 698 yards followed by Gilnes with 376 yards.
The Lions' offense is capped off by a strong running game with four individuals carrying the ball for over 100 yards on the season. Nykwuan Presswood is the team leading rusher with 379 yards.
Defensively, the Lions are allowing just 24.6 points per game through eight games. Peyton Williams has a total of 51 tackles, 30 solo and 21 assisted. Nathan Stone has had a total of three sacks on the season; the sophomore also has three forced fumbles with one fumble recovery.
Grizzlies and Lions All-Time
Franklin holds a 13-8 advantage in a series that dates back to 1996. Recent history has favored the Grizzlies, as Franklin has claimed the last seven meetings between the two programs. Last year, the Grizzlies rolled to a 56-24 win over the Lions at Schueler Field in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Saturday's game is the annual homecoming game at Faught Stadium. As part of the yearly tradition, Franklin College will recognize the 2017 Athletic Hall of Fame class during halftime of the game. This year's class includes former student-athletes Joe Chester '83 (football), Kelly Vance Eckman '04 (women's tennis) and Tim Fish '07 (men's golf).
The Class of the Conference
The Grizzlies sit in a familiar position heading into the final three games - all alone at the top of the HCAC. Going back to 2009, the Grizzlies have won 61 of their last 63 conference showdowns.
The Grizzlies haven't been afraid to stretch defenses first six games of the year, with 16 of the team's touchdown passes encompassing 25 yards or more. Franklin has seven TD passes going for at least 50 yards, with the longest a 91-yard hook-up between Braden Smith and Tahjon McKinney-Cole against Defiance back in week three. Deontez Alexander has been the team's go-to deep threat, hauling in eight of his 12 scores from beyond 25 yards.
One week after surpassing 10,000 career passing yards, senior signal caller Chase Burton has his sights set on two of the program's all-time career marks. With his next touchdown pass, Burton will match Jonny West's program record of 105 TD passes. Additionally, he's just 529 yards away from breaking West's passing yards record of 10,653.
Three Grizzlies had career afternoons in last week's win over Rose-Hulman. In addition to Brown setting new career bests for carries and rushing yards, senior wideout Tanner Wroblewski caught a career-high 11 passes for 175 yards against the Engineers.
Defensively, junior Tyler Reed finished with a career-high nine tackles and 1.5 sacks, numbers that earned him HCAC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Over the last three years, receivers Lee and Tanner Wroblewski have made life tough for opposing defensive backs during their time at Franklin. The brothers have not only teamed with Alexander to form one of the nation's most dangerous receiving trios, but they have each scored a touchdown each in seven games dating back to 2015. The Grizzlies are unbeaten this year when it happens and 6-1 all-time.
Around the HCAC
Saturday features the usual four-game conference slate. In addition to Franklin and Mount St. Joseph, Hanover travels to Defiance, Rose-Hulman is at Bluffton and Manchester heads to Earlham. Anderson is the lone team on a bye this week.
Follow the Action Live
Grizzly fans will be able to follow the action live three different ways on Saturday. The first is by tuning in to GrizTV, where play-by-play man Andrew Smith will bring you the action for not only Saturday's game. If you're in the car, flip the dial to 89.5 FM WFCI where Kevin Hannah and John Ward will bring you all of the action. Additionally, live stats will be provided and links to all three can be found at the top of the page. Follow the Grizzlies on Twitter @FCGrizAthletics for in-game updates and post-game coverage.