Terre Haute, Ind. - The Franklin College football team took over sole possession of first place in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) with a 42-35 road victory over Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology on Saturday.
The Grizzlies (6-2, 6-0 HCAC) rallied from a 21-0 first-quarter deficit, and trailed 35-28 heading into the fourth quarter. That's when the team outscored the Fightin' Engineers 14-0 over the final 15 minutes. Franklin has outscored Rose-Hulman 34-0 in the fourth quarter during the last two seasons – for a pair of victories.
Franklin tied the game, 35-35, after sophomore quarterback Chase Burton (Corydon, Ind./Corydon Central) capped a 21-play, 95-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown rush with 11:18 remaining in the game.
Following punts by both teams, Franklin's defense stepped up with a huge turnover. With Rose-Hulman (6-1, 4-1 HCAC) driving in Franklin territory, junior defensive end Solomon Knight (Columbus, Ind./Columbus North) caused a quarterback sack which resulted in a fumble recovered by sophomore defensive end Zachary Turner (Greensburg, Ind./Rushville) at the Franklin 25-yard line midway through the fourth quarter.
Franklin took advantage of the turnover as Burton hooked up with senior split end Mason Deal (Indianapolis, Ind./Perry Meridian) for 37 yards. The big pass play put the Grizzlies at the Rose-Hulman 30-yard line. Three plays later Burton found junior running back Kole Stogner (Greenwood, Ind./Greenwood) for a 39-yard touchdown pass with 6:07 left.
"Chase took great command of the huddle. Everybody was on the same page on the importance of the drive. We had to finish," noted junior running back Ty'Ronte Files (Ocala, Fla./Vanguard), who rushed for a career-high 190 yards.
Franklin's defense rose to the occasion, preventing Rose-Hulman from getting a first down on three plays in its next offensive possession. The Grizzlies kept the ball on the ground to gain first downs to run out the clock to secure the victory.
"The offensive line did a great job of providing holes all game. I did my best to follow their lead and help us maintain balance offensively," said Files.
Rose-Hulman scored on three straight possessions in the first quarter to grab an early 21-0 lead.
Franklin got on the scoreboard with 9:46 left in the second quarter after a 21-yard pass from Burton to sophomore wingback Lee Wroblewski (Salem, Ind./Paoli). The play came on a fourth-down conversion.
Burton hooked up with Wroblewski for an 82-yard touchdown pass to cut the margin to 21-14 at the 6:29 mark of the second quarter. Wroblewski hauled in his third touchdown pass of the first half on a 17-yard strike to tie the game at 21-21.
"It was important for us to still be able to run the ball, even though we were down early," said Files. "We had a couple of big runs to help gain momentum. Having (pass-run) balance is a very key element to our offense."
Rose-Hulman held a 28-21 halftime lead following a rushing touchdown with 1:49 remaining in the first half.
In the second half, Burton capped a 12-play drive with a four-yard touchdown rush to tie the contest at 28-28 midway through the third quarter. The hosts regained the lead, 35-28, after a five-yard touchdown pass with 5:37 left in the third quarter.
Franklin gained 564 yards, including 247 rushing yards. The team recorded 30 first downs compared to 15 for Rose-Hulman.
Burton threw for 317 yards and four touchdowns. He added two rushing touchdowns in the game. Files averaged 8.3 yards on his 13 rushing attempts.
Wroblewski led the receivers with seven catches for 139 yards and three touchdowns. Deal caught five passes for 77 yards, while Stogner added three receptions.
Defensively, senior linebacker Jeremiah Windell (Corydon, Ind./Corydon Central) had a game-high 12 tackles. Sophomore defensive back Ryan Conner (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) added seven tackles. Knight had three tackles, including a late turnover.
Franklin now enjoys a bye week before hosting Defiance College in the Senior Day Game on Saturday, November 7. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. from Faught Stadium. Live statistics and video of the game will be available. In-game updates will also be available on Twitter (@FCAthletics). Like the Grizzlies on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FranklinCollegeAthletics), and on Instagram (@fcgrizzlies).