WEEK THREE PREVIEW | Grizzlies to Make First of Two Trips to Bluffton Saturday

Photo: Ralph Greenslade
Photo: Ralph Greenslade

Watch Live | Live Stats | Game Notes (PDF)

The Opening Kick
In their final non-conference game of the year, the Grizzlies make the first of two trips this season to Alumni Field for a scheduled non-conference meeting with the Bluffton Beavers. 
 
The two teams were originally scheduled to meet once on Nov. 9, but elected to play a non-conference meeting when a date freed up on each schedule.
 
About Bluffton
The Beavers are led by second-year head coach Aaron Krepps and are coming off a 35-20 loss to Trine in their home opener last weekend. 
 
Sophomore Zach Nobis is listed as the starter for week three and comes into the game going 10-for-21 for 162 yards through the air with one touchdown pass and three interceptions. Fellow sophomores Ryan Markoff and Samuel Coleman have also taken snaps for the Beavers in the early portion of the season for a team averaging 200.5 yards per game through the air. 
 
On the ground, Bluffton is averaging 128.5 yards per game with a pair of juniors leading the way. Darian Greely leads the team with 98 yards on 21 carries while Dontez Rash leads the team with 6.7 yards per touch. Senior Adam Duncan leads the receiving corps with 110 yards on seven catches. 
 
Alway tough defensively, the Beavers are led by junior safety Antonio Crossty, who leads the HCAC with 28 tackles and 18 solo stops entering this week's action. 
 
Last Time Out
The Grizzlies kicked off their home schedule last Saturday night, welcoming Albion College to Faught Stadium for a meeting under the lights. Franklin rallied from an early two-touchdown deficit to tie the game, but 28 unanswered points from the Britons proved to be the downfall in a 46-28 Albion win. A full recap and box score can be found on page 14 of the notes.
 
Last Time They Met
The two teams locked up last November in Franklin in what turned out to be a thrilling late-season contest. Austin Grunden scored the go-ahead touchdown with 10 minutes to play and the Franklin defense was able to hold on for a 28-24 win. In that contest, the Grizzlies held on to the ball for the final 7:40, securing victory with a relentless ground game. 
 
Everybody in the Poole
Sophomore wideout Ryan Poole made the most of his first career start last week, hauling in a career-high seven passes for 126 yards, surpassing the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career. Poole's 10 catches is tied for third-most in the HCAC and his 165 receiving yards ranks fifth among all league pass-catchers. 
 
Stuffing the Competition
Senior Brayton Shannon and junior Evan Stambaugh have not only been the anchors of the Franklin defense through two weeks, but they have been two of the top tacklers in the league. Shannon ranks second in the league with 24 tackles while Stambaugh's 21 stops ties him for third. Both players recorded their first career double-digit tackles games in the opener. 
 
Moving the Chains
No team in the HCAC has been better at moving the sticks than the Grizzlies. Franklin ranks 13th in the nation with 48 first downs accumulated, leading second place Hanover by three in that category.
 
Conference Play is Coming
HCAC play starts on Sept. 28 at home against league co-champions Mt. St. Joseph. Franklin also hosts Anderson, Manchester and Defiance in league play. Conference road games will be at Rose-Hulman, Bluffton and Hanover.
 
Class of the League
Since the 2007 season, the Grizzlies have been dominant against the rest of the HCAC, going 88-6 over that span while claiming nine of the last 12 outright conference championships. 
 
Around the League
Seven teams are in action across four games as non-conference season comes to an end this week. The rest of this week's schedule is as follows: 
 
Thursday, Sept. 19
Manchester at Defiance, 7 PM
 
Saturday, Sept. 21
Hanover at Maryville (TN), 1 PM
Anderson at Mount St. Joseph, 1:30 PM
 
Follow the Action Live
Saturday's game will be streamed through the Bluffton athletics website with live stats also provided by the host institution. Links to the video and live stats are available at the top of the page. In-game updates will be provided on our Twitter feed, @FCGrizAthletics.