Oct 11, 2018
The Opening Kick
In what will be the biggest game in the HCAC to date, a pair of unbeaten teams in conference play meet on Saturday afternoon when the Grizzlies travel to Cincinnati, Ohio for a meeting with Mount St. Joseph University. Saturday's matchup features the two top scoring offenses in the conference, with both the Grizzlies and Lions averaging north of 40 points per game this year.
Last Time Out
Franklin opened October with the first of back-to-back road contests in Ohio, traveling east to take on Defiance. The Grizzlies jumped on top early and put the game out of reach late in the first half on their way to a 55-28 win.
Jacob Earl led the Grizzlies with 270 all-purpose yards and three total touchdowns. The junior running back set career-highs with 158 yards on the ground and 112 receiving yards. Braden Smith threw for 381 yards and five scores on the day. On defense, Bryce Hale finished with a team-high six tackles.
A complete recap is available on page 12 of the game notes.
About Mount St. Joseph
Mount St. Joseph comes into Saturday's game winners of four straight overall and sit tied with the Grizzlies and Hanover for first place in the league. One week ago, the Lions took home a 49-27 win over Manchester, improving their record at home to 3-0 on the year.
The Lions boast one of the top passing attacks in the country, led by junior singal caller Chaiten Tomlin. Tomlin is completing 66% of his passes for 2,005 yards and 26 touchdowns to just four interceptions. A two-time HCAC Offensive Player of the Week, Tomlin ranks second behind Franklin's Braden Smith with 334.2 passing yards per game.
Tomlin has no shortage of weapons at his disposal, headed by senior wideout A.J. Glines and his 40 grabs for 631 yards and league-leading 10 touchdowns. Fellow senior Chase Pankey ranks second on the team with 27 grabs for 554 yards and six scores and both senior wideouts rank in the top-five in the league in catches and yards per game. Grayson Roberts has emerged as a deep threat and his 22.9 yards per catch are tops on the Lions.
Junior Michael Williamson and freshman Colby Newman have split time in the backfield this year. Williamson leads the team with 261 yards on 48 carries while Newman has racked up 259 yards on 41 touches with four touchdowns on the ground.
On defense, senior cornerback Tavon Robertson leads the Lions with 49 tackes on the year. Cory Hardin and Logan Bright are tied for the team lead with two sacks each and Trot Speakman's four interceptions are tied for the most in the HCAC. The Lions are allowing 23.3 points per game and just 170.5 yards through the air this season.
Player of the Week
Junior running back Jacob Earl collected his second career HCAC Offensive Player of the Week award after leading the Franklin offense to a win over Defiance. Entering play this week, Earl ranks second in the HCAC in rushing yards per game (117.6) and rushing touchdowns (8) while his 155.8 all-purpose yards per game is tops in the league.
The Franklin offense has been powered by the trio of Braden Smith, Brad Bonomini and Ben Fleet this year, and each player sits near the top of the conference rankings coming into this week. Smith's 373.4 yards per game through is tops in the conference and his 19 touchdown passes ranks second in the league. Bonomini tops all receivers with 131.2 yards per game with Fleet ranking third at 93.8 yards per contest.
A Collective Effort
On defense, five different Grizzlies have already reached double-digit tackles through three games. Senior linebacker Austin Fleming tops the squad with 35 tackles, 20 coming in the solo variety. Brayton Shannon has made the most of his first year as a starter, racking up 27 stops so far. David Masayile (25), Logan Hale (25) and John McKinney (21) have all hit the 20-tackle milestone this year.
Since the 2007 season, the Grizzlies have been dominant against the rest of the HCAC, going 89-5 over that span while claiming 10 of the last 11 outright conference championships.
Franklin head coach Mike Leonard enters Saturday's game just one win away from passing legendary head coach Stewart "Red" Faught for the most coaching wins in program history.
Around the HCAC
Conference play continues this week with four games taking place around the league. Rose-Hulman is the lone team on a bye in week seven. The other three games of the week are as follows:
Manchester at Bluffton, 1:30 p.m.
Defiance at Hanover, 1:30 p.m.
Anderson at Earlham, 7:00 p.m.
Follow the Action Live
Fans can watch the game live or follow live stats with live links provided by the Mount St. Joseph University athletic department. In-game updates will be provided on Twitter by following @FCGrizAthletics.