Franklin outlasts stubborn Manchester to win homecoming game

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FRANKLIN, Ind. – Franklin gained most of the yardage. Manchester had the football longer. But it was the Grizzlies who prevailed 27-14 in their homecoming game before an overflow crowd at Faught Stadium today.

Franklin, ranked 22nd this week in the Top 25 Poll and rated 25th in the AFCA Top 25 Poll, won its 14th straight Heartland Conference contest and 13 consecutive decision against the Spartans.

The Grizzlies (5-0 HCAC, 6-1 overall) came up empty on a couple of scoring opportunities early, but still appeared to be in control late in the opening quarter. That's when senior outside linebacker David O'Rourke picked up a fumble and rambled eight yards into the end zone to give FC a two-touchdown lead.

Just 24 seconds earlier, Franklin sophomore quarterback Jonny West hit junior wingback James Vaughn on a 14-yard touchdown strike.

But Manchester (1-3 HCAC, 2-4) stayed in the game the rest of the way until Franklin got an insurance touchdown late in the final quarter.

The Spartans cut the Grizzlies' lead in half in the second period, driving 74 yards to score on a one-yard run by fullback Dante Dinkins at the 9:57 mark.

Neither team could get on the board in the third quarter until senior wingback Logan Worley took a short sideline pass from West and broke loose for a 55-yard touchdown play.

Manchester made it interesting late in the period after recovering a Franklin fumble on the FC 29-yard-line. The Spartans needed four plays to score on a TD pass from quarterback Justin Minnich to David Neal just a half minute into the fourth quarter.

But the Grizzlies held the remainder of the contest and tallied their insurance score on a four-yard scoring toss from West to freshman running back Sam Otley with 51 seconds to go.

West completed 26 of 45 passes for 363 yards and three TDs with a pair of interceptions. Sophomore split end Kyle Linville made seven catches for 127 yards and Worley had four receptions for 91 yards and his 55-yard score.

Franklin outgained Manchester in total offensive yards 443 to 223 yards even though the Spartans had possession almost 36 of the 60 minutes.

The Spartans were led on offense by Minnich, who completed 19 of 28 passes for 129 yards with a pickoff. Running back Benedict Colton rushed 21 times for 61 yards.

Leading the Grizzlies' defensive charge was junior linebacker Jimmy Qualters, who had 16 total tackles, including 11 solos.