Posted: Oct 18, 2018
The Opening Kick
The Franklin football team returns home for the first of three remaining home games in 2018 on Saturday, welcoming the Earlham Quakers to Faught Stadium for an afternoon showdown. Saturday afternoon's game is also the annual Samaritan's Feet Day at Faught Stadium.
Last Time Out
HCAC supremacy was on the line last weekend when Franklin traveled east for a meeting with Mount St. Joseph in a showdown of two of the top offenses in the nation.
But early on, the defenses stole the show with each team getting big stops and forcing first half turnovers to keep the point total low. The offenses came to life in the second half and backed by touchdowns on each of their first four second half drives, the Grizzlies emerged with a 42-34 victory.
Jacob Earl led the Grizzly offense with 186 yards on 30 carries and a touchdow, setting new career-highs in rushing yards and touches in a game. Braden Smith threw for 257 yards and three scores while the Franklin defense held Mount St. Joseph to 360 yards of total offense, 140 yards below their season average.
A complete recap is available on page 12 of the game notes.
The Quakers are led by freshman quarterback Collin Hauschild, who has been under center for all seven games this year. Hauschild is completing 50.3 percent of his passes for 553 yards and a pair of touchdowns to seven interceptions.
Another freshman, Melvin Davis, enters the game as the Quakers' leading rusher with 281 yards on 105 carries with one touchdown. Fellow newcomes Connor Bray and Morgan Dinwiddie have also been contributors to the Earlham run game this year with Bray ranking second on the team in rushing yards and Dinwiddie recording one touchdown run.
The Quakers boast a quartet of players with at least 20 catches this year, led by freshman Malcolm Jones and his 27 catches for 205 yards and one score. Freshman Zachary Baker leads the Quakers with 257 yards and two touchdowns on 21 catches. Senior Elijah Bilal and Davis have both caught 20 passes heading into the year with sophomore Jamel Barnes right on their tails with 17 receptions.
On defense, Earlham boasts two of the top tacklers in the HCAC in linebackers Kobe Walker and Rance Albert. Walker leads the Quakers with 79 tackles and his 11.3 stops per game are the second most in the conference entering Saturday. Walker has also accumulated one sack, seven tackles for a loss and has recovered a pair of fumbles. Albert has 74 tackles with his 10.6 stops per game ranking third in the conferece.
Franklin head coach Mike Leonard became the program's all-time wins leader last Saturday with his 121st win on the sidelines, passing legendary head coach Stewart "Red" Faught in the process.
HCAC Player of the Week
Senior linebacker Austin Fleming became the third Grizzly this year to be named conference player of the week when he collected HCAC Defensive Player of the Week honors for the first time this past Monday. Fleming led the Grizzlies with 14 tackles and picked off his first career pass against Mount St. Joseph last weekend. He joined wideout Ben Fleet and running back Jacob Earl as the other Grizzlies to earn on of the conference's weekly awards this year.
The always-potent Franklin air attack has been powered by the trio of Braden Smith, Brad Bonomini and Ben Fleet this year, and each player sits near the top of the conference rankings coming into this week. Smith's 354 yards per game through the air is tops in the conference and his 22 touchdown passes ranks second in the league. Bonomini tops all receivers with 128.2 yards per game with Fleet ranking third at 83.8 yards per contest.
Despite losing nine starters on the offensive side of the ball prior to the 2018 season, the Franklin offense finds itself in a familiar spot at the top of Division III in total offense. The Grizzlies' 578.3 yards per game ranks first in the nation with their 360.5 passing yards per game sitting fourth in the land.
A Collective Effort
On defense, six different Grizzlies have already reached the 20-tackle mark. Fleming tops the squad with 49 tackles, 28 coming in the solo variety. Brayton Shannon (31), Logan Hale (29), David Masayile (28), John McKinney (26) and Zak Prater (20) are among the rest of the field.
Since the 2007 season, the Grizzlies have been dominant against the rest of the HCAC, going 90-5 over that span while claiming 10 of the last 11 outright conference championships.
Around the HCAC
Conference play continues this week with four games taking place around the league. Bluffton is the lone team on a bye in week eight. The other three games of the week are as follows:
Mount St. Joseph at Defiance, 1:30 p.m.
Hanover at Manchester, 1:30 p.m.
Anderson at Rose-Hulman, 1:30 p.m.
Follow the Action Live
Saturday's contest will be broadcast live on GrizTV, brought to you by Hubler Automotive Group. Sam Weiderhaft will have all the play-by-play action and if you can't make it, be sure to follow live stats. In-game updates will be provided on Twitter by following @FCGrizAthletics.