Franklin tops Hanover 7th straight time in Victory Bell clash

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HANOVER, Ind. – A pair of fourth-and-goal touchdowns and a stingy defense were major factors in Franklin College's 40-15 rout of football arch rival Hanover in the annual battle for the Victory Bell trophy at L.S. Ayres Field today.

The Heartland Conference champion Grizzlies closed out their 2011 regular season schedule at 8-0 in the HCAC and 9-1 overall. Franklin, ranked 18th in the D3football.com Top 25 poll this week, now awaits its assignment for next week's first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs. The NCAA bracket will be announced at 6 p.m. Sunday.

The host Panthers finished 5-3 in the league and 5-5 in all games.

Moreover, the decision marked FC's seventh straight triumph over Hanover and the Grizzlies' 17th consecutive victory in HCAC play.

Franklin quarterback Jonny West, who's fifth in total offense in this week's NCAA stat rankings, completed 26 of 42 passes for 294 yards and four touchdowns with a pair of interceptions.

Senior running back Reece Craig rushed 16 times for 140 yards and the game's opening TD. Senior wingback Logan Worley made nine catches for 116 yards and a touchdown and sophomore split end Kyle Linville had nine receptions for 86 yards and three scores.

Reece put FC on the scoreboard first with a 23-yard scoring run at the 9:29 mark in the opening period. Hanover cut its deficit in half with a 35-yard field goal by Dylan Dunlop with 35 seconds to go in the first quarter.

West then connected with Linville on scoring tosses of 1 and 3 yards – both on fourth-down-and-goal plays – in the second period to put the visitors up 20-3 – a 17-point advantage the Grizzlies retained at halftime.

After stopping a drive by the Panthers deep into Franklin territory early in the third quarter, the Grizzlies tacked on a pair of TDs to break it open. West hit Worley with a 14-yard scoring strike at the 10:53 mark - completing an 80-yard drive in just three plays – and then fired his fourth TD pass of the day (the third one to Linville) on a 10-yard play.

Franklin scored its final points on a 2-yard touchdown run by junior running back Luke Hamm with 3:48 remaining in the final quarter.

Hanover produced two touchdowns in the fourth period. Backup quarterback Dexter Britt scored on a 1-yard run with 9:24 left and hit tight end Matt Robinette with an 8-yard scoring pass with less than a minute remaining.

Both teams combined for 880 yards of total offense. Franklin had 507 of those, but especially dominated the Panthers on the ground. The Grizzlies outrushing their host by a margin of 213 to 56 yards.

Penalties plagued both rivals as Hanover was flagged 15 times for 116 yards while FC had 10 penalties for 108 yards.

Franklin's defense was led by sophomore linebacker Scott Moore (Veedersburg, Ind./Fountain Central), who had 11 total tackles, including nine solo tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.

Sophomore linebacker Jordan Segner (Anderson, Ind./Highland) made 10 total tackles and senior cornerback Des Prentice (Mishawaka, Ind./Penn) intercepted a pass in the second half.

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