Defiance, Ohio - The Franklin College football team won its fifth consecutive Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) title with a 48-14 road victory over Defiance College on Saturday. The Grizzlies secure the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.
Franklin (7-2, 7-0 HCAC) seized control of the game behind a 20-point second quarter. The Grizzlies scored 21 points in the third quarter to build a 48-7 lead.
Senior quarterback Grant Welp (Ferdinand, Ind./Forest Park) threw four touchdowns and 331 yards to lead the offensive attack. Big plays highlighted the Grizzlies first-half scores.
Welp found senior split end Jonny Hession (Speedway, Ind./Speedway) for a 28-yard strike to cap the game's opening possession. He later threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to junior split end Mason Deal (Indianapolis, Ind./Perry Meridian) to give Franklin a 14-7 lead with 10:57 left in the first half.
Welp hooked up with Hession again for a 41-yard score before senior wing back Zach Cole (Middletown, Ind./Shenandoah) rushed 58 yards to give the visitors a 27-7 halftime advantage. Hession led the receivers with seven catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
In the second half, junior wing back Kendal Butler (Oakland, Ill./Cumberland) caught a 10-yard pass from Welp to increase Franklin's lead to 34-7 early in the third quarter.
Senior Sam Otley (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncalli) added a two-yard rushing touchdown to give the Grizzlies a 41-7 lead at the 4:00 mark of the third quarter. The team blocked a Defiance punt and sophomore Kole Stogner (Greenwood, Ind./Greenwood) scooped up the punt for his second return of the season.
Defensively, junior linebacker Jeremiah Windell (Corydon, Ind./Corydon Central) had a game-high nine tackles. Sophomore defensive back Taylor Christensen (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) recorded eight tackles and had an interception. Seniors Jameson Brock (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) and Trevor Yates (Kendallville, Ind./East Noble) each had seven stops.
Franklin closes out the regular season by hosting Hanover College in the annual Victory Bell Classic on Saturday, November 15 at 1:30 p.m. from Faught Stadium. Live audio, statistics, and video of the game will be available. In-game updates will also be available on Twitter (@FCAthletics) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FranklinCollegeAthletics).