Franklin pulls away in 2nd half to trounce Bluffton

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FRANKLIN, Ind. – The Griz exploded for four touchdowns in the third quarter and routed visiting football foe Bluffton 56-9 at Faught Stadium today.

Franklin College piled up 42 points in all after halftime to win the Heartland Conference schedule opener for both schools. The Grizzlies improved to 2-1 overall while the Beavers fell to 1-2.

Following the intermission, FC started off with a 3-yard touchdown run by senior running back Mitch Downs with 10:42 left, capitalizing on the first of two interceptions made by senior linebacker Teddy Henkle.

Sophomore running back Darryl Stott followed with a 7-yard scoring run almost three minutes later. Henkle added the third TD of the period when he intercepted a pass by Bluffton quarterback Christopher Byrd and blasted his way to the north end zone from 36 yards out at the 7:29 mark.

Downs scored his second touchdown of the quarter on a 2-yard plunge with 1:19 remaining. In the fourth period, senior quarterback Nick Purichia subbed and pitched a pair of scoring passes – the first to junior tight end Luke Floyd with 13:10 to go and the second to Stott, who scampered 22 yards for a TD with 9:36 left to close out the scoring.

The Griz got on the scoreboard first when junior running back Reece Craig rushed for an 18-yard touchdown with 9:16 left in the opening period. The Beavers answered with a 35-yard field goal by kicker Austin Sweeney midway in the quarter.

Franklin's lone TD in the second period was scored by junior wingback Mitch Deffner on a 9-yard pass from starting QB Kyle Ray. Bluffton produced its lone touchdown with just 16 seconds left in the half when quarterback Tyler Wright hit Jason Brown on a 4-yard scoring toss.

Ray, the reigning HCAC Player of the Week on Offense, completed 21 of 28 passes for 300 yards and a TD. Purichia was good on three of four throws for 46 yards and two scores. Stott rushed for 61 yards and a TD and made two catches for 35 yards and a score.

The Grizzlies rolled up 508 total offensive yards to Bluffton's 217. Franklin's defense, which was 19th among all NCAA Division III teams in rushing defense coming in, held the Beavers' runners to 67 net yards. FC rushed for 162 yards and passed for 346.

In addition to his two interceptions, Henkle made a team-best 12 total tackles. Senior nose tackle Rex Olds had six total tackles, including 1-1/2 sacks.