FRANKLIN, Ind. – The Franklin football team kicked off their 2019 home schedule on Saturday (Sept.1 4) night, taking on the Albion College Britons on a beautiful fall night under the Faught Stadium lights.
The Grizzlies (0-2) battled back from an early deficit to tie things up with the Britons (2-0) midway through the second quarter. But 28 straight points by the visiting team proved too much of a deficit to overcome as Albion left town with a 48-26 win, dropping the Grizzlies to 0-2 for the first time since 2015.
"I was proud of the way we fought tonight," Head coach Mike Leonard said after the game. "We never gave up and we got back in the game after a bit of a tough start against a tough team. I told our guys we've had starts like this in the past and ended up having great years. We want to flush this loss but not totally because we want need to learn from this."
The Britons scored on each of their first two possessions while Franklin opened the game with punts on their first three drives. Trailing 13-0 late in the first quarter, Jacob Earl got the Grizzlies on the board with a 61-yard touchdown run, the second longest of his career to cut the deficit to seven with 3:02 to go in the quarter.
After forcing a Briton punt, the Grizzlies drew even early in the second quarter when Austin Grunden's one-yard run capped a 12-play, 60-yard drive. But the rest of the half, the Grizzlies struggled to move the ball and Albion capitalized with two touchdowns, including one with 10 second left in the half that made it 27-13 after one half of football.
Albion padded their lead with a pair of third quarter scores before Earl stopped the bleeding with a touchdown run late in the third quarter. Braden Smith connected with Joey Siderewicz on an eight-yard touchdown strike early in the fourth quarter that capped the scoring for both sides.
The two sides were nearly even in yards gained, with Franklin holding a 467-464 edge. Smith went 28-for-48 for 328 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions through the air. Ryan Poole emerged as his top target on the night, setting career highs with seven catches for 129 yards. Earl finished with 76 yards on 11 carries while Austin Grunden racked up 60 yards on eight carries for Franklin.
Defensively, Brayton Shannon was all over the field for Franklin, setting a new career high with 14 tackles. Junior safety Evan Stambaugh recorded his second straight game with double digit tackles, racking up 10 solo tackles on his way to an 11-tackle night.
Franklin wraps up non-conference play next Saturday (Sept. 21) afternoon, when they head east to take on the Bluffton Beavers in a scheduled non-conference game and the first of Franklin's two trips to Ohio to take on the Beavers. Kick-off is set for 1:30 p.m.