Franklin, Ind. - The Franklin College football team was outscored 27-6 in the second half in losing a first-round NCAA Division III playoff game 27-22 to Ohio Northern University at Faught Stadium.
ONU running back Justin Magazine rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Ricardo Johnson completed 13 passes for 190 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Devin Price, to lead the Polar Bears, which came back from a 16-0 halftime deficit for its first NCAA playoff victory since 2010.
Franklin ends the season with an 8-3 record after winning the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship, representing the league in the playoffs for the sixth straight season.
The Grizzlies scored 16 first-half points as sophomore quarterback Chase Burton (Corydon, Ind./Corydon Central) completed touchdown passes of 89 and 20 yards to senior split end Mason Deal (Indianapolis, Ind./Perry Meridian), and sophomore placekicker Stephen Colligan (Fort Wayne, Ind./Dwenger) opened the game's scoring with a 20-yard field goal.
However, Ohio Northern dominated the second half, rushing for 169 yards on 38 carries, passed for 119 yards on six completions, and controlled the football for 22:20 of the 30 minutes.
Johnson's 79-yard touchdown pass to Price opened the second-half scoring for the visiting Polar Bears. Then, the quarterback's three-yard run to the end zone drew the team within 16-14 with 4:29 left in the third quarter.
A 24-yard run by Magazine gave ONU its first lead of the game, 21-16, with 13:11 left in the game.
Franklin responded with an eight-play, 61-yard drive that was culminated with junior running back TyRonte Files (Ocala, Fla./Vanguard) scoring on a 21-yard run. A failed two-point conversion gave the hosts a 22-21 lead with 10:20 remaining.
Magazine's second touchdown, on a five-yard run, gave ONU the lead for good with 5:02 left in the game. The team's defense then stopped the Grizzlies on two successive drives for the victory.
Burton completed 21 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns, while Files rushed for 78 yards on 17 carries, and Deal caught seven passes for 153 yards and the two scores.
Defensively, junior safety Zay Thornton (Ocala, Fla./Vanguard) led Franklin with 12 tackles, with 10 being solo stops. Linebackers Austin Day (Indianapolis, Ind./Decatur Central) and Jeremiah Windell (Corydon, Ind./Corydon Central) each added eight tackles.
ONU rushed for 245 yards and had 435 yards of total offense in winning their fourth first-round playoff game (4-0). Besides Magazine's 153 yards, Johnson had 49 yards on nine rushes and Price had 46 yards on eight carries. Price also caught six passes for 117 yards and the 79-yard scoring pass from Johnson.