The Opening Kick
The Grizzlies close out their home schedule on Saturday afternoon, taking on the Anderson University Ravens on Senior Day at Faught Stadium.
Last Time Out
The Grizzlies returned to action at home for the first time in a month last week for the annual homecoming game against Mount St. Joseph University.
Franklin left no doubt about who the better team was on Saturday, scoring touchdowns on six of their seven first half drives to jump out to a huge lead at the break. Franklin was able to put it on cruise control in the second half, closing out a 66-39 win over the Lions.
It was a record-setting afternoon for Franklin quarterback Chase Burton, as he moved past Jonny West into sole possession of first place all-time for touchdown passes. Burton finished the day 31-for-37 for 455 yards and six first half touchdown passes. Burton's second scoring pass of the day, a four-yard strike to Alex Smith, moved him past West's career mark of 105 TD tosses and into first place.
Deontez Alexander hauled in a season-high 10 passes for a career-best 195 yards and two touchdown grabs. The Grizzlies' offense was dynamic no matter who was on the field on Saturday, racking up a program-record 727 yards of total offense against the Lions.
A complete recap is available on page 12 of the game notes.
The Ravens enter play on Saturday 1-7 on the year and 1-6 in HCAC play. Anderson is coming off of their bye week, and they will be looking to snap a five-game slide on Saturday afternoon.
The Ravens have struggled to move the ball at times this year, entering Saturday's game averaging just 222.1 yards per contest this season. Blake Levy has emerged as the team's top passer this year in a platoon with Jarrod Hubble at the quarterback position. Levy has gone 67-for-144 for 814 yards, five touchdowns and one interception in six games. Meanwhile Hubble is 47-for-99 for 562 yards, five touchdowns and four picks in seven games.
Anderson trots out one of the youngest rosters in the league, especially on offense where nine of the team's 11 starters are in their freshmen or sophomore seasons.
Defensively, Anderson is led by freshman linebacker Drew Wilson and his 72 tackles on the year. Wilson ranks second in the HCAC in total stops, behind Hanover's Kyle Treber. Fellow linebacker, junior Dakota Frauhiger, ranks fifth in the conference with 66 tackles on the year. Stephen Marshall's 2.5 sacks leads the Ravens while Demontae Hart and Kreevon Maple are tied for the team lead with two interceptions.
Last Time They Met
The Grizzlies and Ravens met last year up in Anderson with Franklin walking away with a 55-34 win. Burton threw six touchdown passes on the day, three going to Alexander. Lee Wroblewski, Tanner Wroblewski and Brady Helms also caught touchdowns in the win.
Thank You, Seniors
Before the start of Saturday's game, the Franklin College football program will hold their annual senior day festivities. A total of 30 Grizzlies will be playing their final regular season home game, a group of players that have been responsible for 30 wins, two outright conference championships and two NCAA Division III playoff berths since they arrived on campus.
The Grizzlies can punch their ticket into the NCAA Division III playoffs with a win on Saturday that would clinch the HCAC regular season championship and earn the Grizzlies the conference's automatic berth. The Grizzlies sit one game ahead of Rose-Hulman in the conference standings and own the tie-breaker following a 29-22 win over the Engineers back on Oct. 21.
The NCAA released the first Division III regional rankings this week. Franklin currently sits seventh in the North Region with a 6-1 record in region play.
One week after surpassing West's record for passing touchdowns, Burton has a chance to break another one of West's records on Saturday. Burton is just 74 yards away from breaking the school's all-time record for passing yards, which currently sits at 10,653 heading into Saturday.
The Class of the Conference
The Grizzlies sit in a familiar position heading into the final three games - all alone at the top of the HCAC. Going back to 2009, the Grizzlies have won 62 of their last 64 conference showdowns.
The Grizzlies haven't been afraid to stretch defenses first six games of the year, with 19 of the team's touchdown passes encompassing 25 yards or more. Franklin has nine TD passes going for at least 50 yards, with the longest a 91-yard hook-up between Braden Smith and Tahjon McKinney-Cole against Defiance back in week three. Deontez Alexander has been the team's go-to deep threat, hauling in 10 of his 14 scores from beyond 25 yards.
Alexander has not only been the top threat to score on the Grizzlies this year, but he has emerged as one of most dangerous pass catchers in the nation. The senior wideout is tied for the Division III lead with 14 touchdown catches and just one off the pace for the most TD grabs across all divisions.
Around the HCAC
Saturday features the usual four-game conference slate. In addition to Franklin and Anderson, Defiance is at Mount St. Joseph, Manchester travels to Hanover and Earlham heads to Bluffton to battle the Beavers.
Follow the Action Live
Grizzly fans will be able to follow the action live three different ways on Saturday. The first is by tuning in to GrizTV, where play-by-play man Andrew Smith will bring you the action for not only Saturday's game. If you're in the car, flip the dial to 89.5 FM WFCI where Kevin Hannah will bring you all of the action. Additionally, live stats will be provided and links to all three can be found at the top of the page. Follow the Grizzlies on Twitter @FCGrizAthletics for in-game updates and post-game coverage.