FRANKLIN, Ind. – A season-long three-game homestand continued for the Franklin football team on Saturday (Oct. 19) afternoon, when the Grizzlies welcomed the Manchester Spartans to town.
The Grizzlies (3-4, 2-2 HCAC) fell behind early before taking the lead on the first drive of the second half. But the hosts couldn't sustain the momentum and thanks to a 20-point fourth quarter, the Spartans (2-4, 1-2 HCAC) claimed a 30-21 upset victory.
The Grizzlies' first two drives saw the offense move the ball with precision down the field before a pair of interceptions inside the Manchester five snuffed out potential points. The Spartans took advantage with their second drive of the day, scoring on a 27-yard pass late in the first quarter.
Manchester added a field goal early in the second quarter to make it a 10-point game, but Franklin had an answer the first time they touched the ball in the second. The Grizzlies moved 57 yards in nine plays, capped by a four-yard touchdown run by Austin Grunden to cut the lead to 10-7 with less than five minutes to go before the half.
Franklin was driving deep in Spartan territory right before the half, but a fourth-and-one try inside the 10 was stuffed right before the half, preserving a halftime lead for Manchester.
The Grizzlies got the ball to open the second half and wasted no time finding the end zone with a 76-yard drive that lasted just four plays. Braden Smith capped the drive with a beautiful deep ball that landed in Brock Finkbiner's hands for a 46-yard score and a 14-10 Grizzly lead.
Franklin's lead would stand into the fourth quarter, but Manchester took the lead for good on a Donovan Henderson touchdown run. The Spartans added to the lead on their very next drive with a 10-play drive that resulted in a touchdown and burned over six minutes off the clock.
The Grizzlies countered on a fourth-down play to get back within two when Smith hit Joey Siderewicz for a 54-yard score to cut the deficit to 23-21 with three minutes to go. But the league's leading rusher put the game away two plays later when Henderson raced 65 yards for a score.
Total yards were 336-311 in Manchester's favor with the Spartans controlling the ball for a whopping 36:51. Smith went 12-for-30 for 192 yards through the air while rushing 14 times for 85 yards. Grunden led all running backs with 74 yards on 10 carries while Siderewicz had 70 yards receiving on three grabs. Defensively, freshman Aaron Black set a new career-high with 14 tackles while sophomore Tanner Swindle had a personal high 10 stops on the day.
The Grizzlies wrap up their home schedule next Saturday (Oct. 26), when they welcome the Defiance Yellow Jackets to Faught Stadium for Senior Day. Kick-off is set for 1:30 p.m. with senior day festivities taking place before the game.