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RECAP | Earl Sets Career-Highs in Rushing, Receiving Yards as Grizzlies Take Care of Defiance

Photo courtesy of Derek Cox
Photo courtesy of Derek Cox

DEFIANCE, Ohio – Thanks to a season-high output for yards on offense and a stellar effort from running back Jacob Earl, the Franklin College football team opened the month of October with a 55-28 win over Defiance College on Saturday (Oct. 6) afternoon.

The Grizzlies (4-1, 3-0 HCAC) racked up 674 total yards on offense, the single highest output so far in 2018. Junior running back Earl tormented the Yellow Jackets (0-5, 0-3 HCAC) all afternoon, racking up 270 total yards and leading the Grizzlies in both rushing and receiving yards.

The win also moved head coach Mike Leonard into a tie with legendary head coach Stewart "Red" Faught for the most coaching wins in program history with 120.

Franklin took the ball to open the game and wasted no time putting a touchdown on the board. Earl capped an eight-play, 55-yard drive with a 12-yard run just 3:38 into the game. Defiance answered with a touchdown on their first drive, but the Grizzlies turned to the big play on their next drive to re-take the lead. Just two plays into their second possession, Braden Smith found Ryker Stout for a 66-yard touchdown, the longest career reception for Stout giving the Grizzlies a 14-7 lead.

Midway through the second quarter, Franklin took advantage of a short field to extend their lead. Starting just shy of midfield, the Grizzlies needed just four plays to score, capped by a 31-yard pass from Smith to Earl to make it 21-7 with 6:42 to go in the half.

Defiance countered with a quick score of their own, but Franklin added two touchdowns in the final 1:39 of the half to take control of the game. The first came on a 46-yard pass from Smith to Earl and following a quick three-and-out by Defiance, Franklin drove 77 yards in 33 seconds, capped by a one-yard pass from Smith to Brock Finkbiner to give Franklin a 35-13 lead at the half.

Smith used his arms and legs to put the game out of reach in the third quarter, scoring on a three-yard run and hitting Brad Bonomini from 14-yards out to make it 48-13 after three. Payton Healy added a two-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring.

Earl ended the day with 158 yards on 15 carries and 112 yards receiving on six catches, setting career-highs in yards in both categories. Smith finished with 381 yards on 24-for-34 passing, tossing five touchdowns against one interception. Bryce Hale led the defense with six stops and Alex Frey picked off his second pass of the season.

Next up for the Grizzlies is a trip to Cincinnati, Ohio next Saturday (Oct. 13) for a meeting with Mount St. Joseph in a battle of two of the final three unbeaten teams left in the HCAC. Kick-off is set for 1:30 p.m.