Posted: Sep 27, 2018
The Opening Kick
Coming off their annual bye week, the Grizzlies welcome perennial HCAC power Rose-Hulman to Faught Stadium on Saturday afternoon for their first conference home game of 2018. Saturday's game is the annual homecoming contest, featuring a halftime celebration of the three newest inductees into the Franklin Athletic Hall of Fame.
Last Time Out
Two weeks ago, the Grizzlies traveled north to take on Anderson University in their 2018 conference opener. The Grizzlies jumped out to a multi-score lead in the first quarter and rode that lead all the way to a 51-27 victory over the Ravens.
Junior Jacob Earl racked up 144 total yards and scored four touchdowns for the second time in his career. Braden Smith threw for 326 yards and three scores, tossing touchdowns to Ben Fleet, Cole Daab and Earl.
A complete recap is available on page 12 of the game notes.
Now in his eighth year at the helm of the Engineers, head coach Jeff Sokol leads his team into Saturday's matchup fresh off their first win of the season last week. Sokol is one win away from his 50th career victory and carries a record of 43-15 in HCAC play into Saturday's game.
Sophomore quarterback Andrew Dion gets his second taste of the Franklin-Rose rivalry when he steps under center on Saturday. Dion has completed 45.9 percent of his passes for 645 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions through four contests. In last year's meeting, Dion completed 26-of-46 passes for 327 yards and a pair of scores.
Garrett Wight enters play as the team's leading rusher despite missing last week's contest against Manchester. Wight has 248 yards on 71 carries and a pair of touchdowns. Maxwell Hatch is the team's second leading rusher, racking up 145 yards on 36 carries. Noah Thomas lead the team with 14 catches for 191 yards and three of Sawyer Young's six catches have gone for touchdowns, the most on the team.
Defensively, the Engineers are led by reigning HCAC Defensive Player of the Week John Kirby and Carter Hounshell, who have 31 tackles each. The Engineers' boast First Team Pre-Season All-American Mike Riley on the defensive line, with his team-leading seven tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks on the year. Matt Michalak leads the team with three sacks while Parker Lappin's two interceptions is tops on the team.
Grizzlies and Engineers All-Time
Franklin comes into Saturday's game with a 41-24-2 lead in the all-time series, which includes a 10-2 mark since the teams became HCAC rivals. Rose-Hulman was the last conference opponent to earn a win at Faught Stadium, winning 23-22 back in 2016.
Through four weeks, the Franklin offense has retained its spot among the Division III elite, ranking sixth in the nation in total offense with 588.3 yards per game and 10th in passing offense with 354.3 yards through the air per contest.
Play it Again, Bono
Senior wideout Brad Bonomini has emerged not onyl as the top pass catcher on the Grizzlies, but one of the top targets in the entire nation. Bonomini leads the HCAC with 148 yards per game and his nine catches per game are also best in the league. Bonomini sits second in the league and 10th nationally in both receiving TDs (5) and receiving yards (444).
Earl of Rushing
Franklin running back Jacob Earl has been dangerous every time he has touched the ball in 2018, recording over 100 yards from scrimmage in all three games. Earl comes into this weekend leading the league in yards per carry (8.63 yards) while ranking second in rushing yards (345), touchdowns (5) and yards per game (115.0).
A Collective Effort
On defense, seven different Grizzlies have already reached double-digit tackles through three games. Senior linebacker Austin Fleming tops the squad with 21 tackles, 13 coming of the solo variety. Brayton Shannon has made the most of his first year as a starter, racking up 20 stops so far. David Masayile (17), John McKinney (15), Logan Hale (11), Chris Knight (11) and Zak Prater (10) join the linebacking duo in double-figures.
Since the 2007 season, the Grizzlies have been dominant against the rest of the HCAC, going 87-5 over that span while claiming 10 of the last 11 outright conference championships.
Franklin head coach Mike Leonard enters Saturday's game just two wins away from matching legendary head coach Stuart "Red" Faught for the most coaching wins in program history with 120. He has had plenty of success during his career against Rose-Hulman, going 10-2 overall.
Around the HCAC
Conference play continues this week with four games taking place around the league. Defiance is the lone team on a bye in week five. The other three games of the week are as follows:
Mount St. Joseph at Bluffton, 1:30 p.m.
Hanover at Anderson, 1:30 p.m.
Earlham at Manchester, 1:30 p.m.
Follow the Action Live
Saturday's game will be broadcast live on GrizTV, brought to you by Hubler Automotive Group. Sam Weiderhaft will provide all the play-by-play action in the pivotal HCAC showdow. Live stats will be avialable at franklingrizzlies.com and in-game updates will be provided on our Twitter feed, @FCGrizAthletics.