Posted: Nov 07, 2019
The Opening Kick
Coming off their bye week, the Grizzlies begin the final stretch of the regular season on Saturday when they head to Ohio for the second time this season to take on the Bluffton Beavers in their regularly scheduled HCAC meeting.
Last Time Out
Two weeks ago, Franklin turned in a dominant performance in the pouring rain, shutting out Defiance 28-0 in their final home game of the year. The Grizzlies held the Yellow Jackets to 147 yards total yards and force five turnovers to earn their first shutout since 2015. A full recap is available on page 14 of the game notes.
About the Beavers
Bluffton comes into Saturday's matchup winners of two in a row after besting Anderson and Manchester in consecutive weeks. In each of those two contests, the Beaver defense held their opponent to less than 20 points, the first two instances that has happened this year.
Teams are averaging 28.1 points per game and 405.5 yards per contest against the Bluffton defense this year. Safety Antonio Crossty comes into this weekend leading the Beavers with 76 tackles, the second-most in the HCAC behind Franklin's Brayton Shannon. Crossty leads all conference defenders with 54 solo tackles. Stephan Kosakowski leads the Beavers with two picks and seven pass break-ups while John Boyd III and Keith Holmes Jr. are tied for tops on the team with a pair of sacks.
The Bluffton offense is led by halfback Darian Greeley, who sits fourth among all ball carriers in the HCAC with 799 yards and seven touchdowns entering the weekend. The Grizzlies will get their first look at quarterback Keel Watson IV, who has thrown three touchdowns against one interception while starting the last two games. Adam Duncan remains the top pass-catching target, hauling in 21 passes on the year.
Last Time They Met
Earlier this year, the Grizzlies traveled to Ohio for a scheduled non-conference game with the Beavers. Senior Jacob Earl rushed for a career-high 207 yards and the Grizzlies racked up nearly 300 total yards on the ground in a 34-19 win. Franklin's defense forced three interceptions, two coming courtesy of freshman cornerback JP Osafo.
Senior defensive lineman Brady Hale was named the HCAC's Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career for his efforts against the Yellow Jackets two weeks ago. Not only did he lead the team in tackles (six) and tackles for a loss (3.5), but he forced three fumbles, two of which set up short fields that led to Franklin touchdowns.
Franklin's defense picked off two passes and recovered three fumbles two weeks ago, marking the first time the Grizzlies forced five turnovers in a game since Sept. 30, 2017 against Manchester. Garrett Day, Dante Darden and Kody Wilkerson all came away with fumble recoveries while Chris Knight and Aaron Black picked off one Yellow Jacket pass each.
Ground and Pound
Franklin's rushing attack has been the focal point of the offense in 2019, with its four senior backfield occupants leading the charge. Earl, Smith, Healy and Grunden have combined for 1,546 yards on the ground at 4.8 yards per attempt.
You Shall Not Pass
Senior Brayton Shannon and junior Evan Stambaugh enter the week as two of the top stoppers in the league. Shannon's 77 stops give him the conference league with Stambaugh ranking 10th with 55 tackles.
Return on Investment
Freshman Jarrett Gibson has emerged as the league's top kick returner, racking up an HCAC-best 555 return yards through four games. Gibson leads the Grizzlies with 703 all-purpose yards entering this week.
Around the HCAC
It's a full slate of league games on Saturday with all eight teams vying for position in the league. The remainder of Saturday's schedule is as follows:
Manchester at Defiance, 1:30 p.m.
Mount St. Joseph at Anderson, 1:30 p.m.
Hanover at Rose-Hulman, 2 p.m.
Follow the Action Live
Saturday's game will be streamed by live by the Bluffton athletic department with live stats provided by the host institution. Links to each can be found at the top of the page. In-game updates will be available on our Twitter feed @FCGrizAthletics.