RICHMOND, Ind. – Franklin College today shut out football host Earlham 55-0 and clinched its fourth Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference outright championship in five years.
The Grizzlies, ranked 22nd this week in the D3football.com Top 25 poll and 18th in the AFCA Division III Top 25 Poll, improved to 7-0 in the HCAC and 8-1 overall, winning their 16th straight HCAC contest.
Coupling that with second-place Hanover's 41-23 loss at Mount St. Joseph today, Franklin claimed its second consecutive league title and fourth in the last five years with still one more week to compete in the regular season.
Moreover, FC earned its fourth automatic berth to the NCAA Division III tournament, which begins Nov. 19.
Sophomore quarterback Jonny West completed 17 of 24 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions and senior running back Reece Craig rushed for 115 yards and one score on 10 carries to help lead the Grizzlies' attack.
The Grizzlies scored three touchdowns in the last seven minutes of the opening quarter. Those included a 7-yard rushing play and 60-yard pass reception by sophomore running back Ethan Cook and a 3-yard scoring rush by West.
Franklin tacked on three more scores in the second period when Craig broke free on a 60-yard rushing play, West hit senior wingback Logan Worley with a 6-yard scoring toss and senior safety Tyler Huls intercepted a pass by the Quakers' Dorian Jenkins and returned it 38 yards into the end zone.
Franklin scored its last two touchdowns in the third quarter as West connected with freshman tight end Dylan Jenney on an 8-yard scoring pass play and sophomore running back Kyle Holzbog rushed for a 16-yard TD.
For the game, Franklin posted 550 yards of team total offense to Earlham's 194.
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