NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. – The Franklin College football team completed their road schedule on Saturday (Oct. 27) afternoon, picking up a 45-24 win over Manchester University at Burt Field.
The Grizzlies (7-1, 6-0 HCAC) jumped out to an early lead before putting the game away with back-to-back touchdowns to close the first half and begin the second half. Franklin's defense turned in a strong performance in the second half, conceding only a late-game touchdown to close out the win and give Franklin wins in all four conference road games.
Franklin opened the scoring just three plays into the game when Braden Smith turned to his favorite target, connecting with Brad Bonomini for a 77-yard touchdown. The Spartans answered with a touchdown of their own but after forcing a Grizzly punt, the Spartans handed the ball right back when Dillon Nelson's fumble on the punt return was recovered by Franklin. One play later, the Grizzlies re-claimed the lead when Smith fired a 29-yard strike to Bonomini with 6:01 to go in the first quarter.
Jacob Earl stretched the Franklin lead to 21-7 less than three minutes into the third quarter, scampering in from 15 yards out. But the Spartans closed the gap with a touchdown and a field goal to make it a 21-16 game with 1:12 to go in the first half.
As they have done so many times in the past, the Franklin offense made good use of precious little time, marching 65 yards in nine plays with Smith hitting Bonomini from seven yards out with two second left in the half, making it 28-16 at the break.
The Grizzly defense forced a three-and-out to start the second half, setting up another nine-play drive that resulted in a seven-yard TD run by Smith to make it 35-16 with 9:16 to go in the third. Franklin added an Austin Grunden touchdown run later in the third and a 25-yard Carter Brown field goal early in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring.
Smith finished the day with 309 passing yards on 19-for-36 passing and three touchdowns to one interception. Bonomini hauled in seven passes for 164 yards and three scores, his second three-touchdown game of the year. Earl finished the day with 140 all-purpose yards, running for 90 and catching three passes for 50 yards.
Logan Hale finished with a team-high seven stops on defense and Austin Fleming turned in six tackles, all of the solo variety. Senior Chaz Hill also had six tackles and picked off his first career pass midway through the second quarter.
Franklin returns to action at home next Saturday (Nov. 3), when they welcome the Bluffton Beavers to town for the annual Tribute to Service Day. Kick-off from Faught Stadium is set for 1:30 p.m.