VALPARAISO, Ind. – Franklin College rallied from a two-touchdown deficit and then took full control in the second half in tonight's 49-35 football victory at Valparaiso University.
The Grizzlies, who piled up a whopping 669 yards of total offense, topped the Crusaders, a NCAA Football Championship Subdivision affiliate, for the second consecutive year. The contest was the season opener for both schools.
After falling behind 28-14 with five minutes left in the opening half, Franklin struck twice for touchdowns in the air to even the score at halftime.
Sophomore quarterback Jonny West hit sophomore split end Kyle Linville on a 58-yard TD pass play just a minute later. West then connected with junior wingback Keith Cunningham on a 12-yard scoring strike with just 10 seconds remaining.
Valparaiso regained the lead less than a minute into the third period when running back Bobby Wysocki scored on a 27-yard run, but that would be the last time the Grizzlies' defense surrendered any points.
Franklin tied the game and then wrested away the lead in the last 1-1/2 minutes of the third quarter. Sophomore running back Ethan Cook scored on a 4-yard rush with 1:37 to go before West hit sophomore tight end Ryan Hartman, a backup, on a 20-yard TD pass play with seven seconds to go.
The Grizzlies added insurance points when junior running back Luke Hamm broke loose for a 28-yard scoring run with 8:35 left in the game.
West opened the Grizzlies' scoring with a 1-yard TD run early in the first quarter. The sophomore fired the first scoring pass of his varsity career to junior wingback James Vaughn late in the opening period.
West completed 32 of 51 passes for 448 yards and 5 TDs with 2 interceptions and Franklin rolled up 221 yards on the ground. Cook led FC's rushing attack with 115 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Hamm ran 16 times for 67 yards and a score. Linville made eight receptions for 151 yards and a TD and junior split end Mitch Deffner had 8 catches for 61 yards.
Franklin's defense was keyed by sophomore linebacker Scott Moore with 9 total tackles, sophomore cornerback Zack Corpe with 7 solo tackles and a forced fumble, strong safety Tyler Huls with 6 solo tackles and a fumble recovery, and sophomore linebacker Sanchez Tate with 7 total tackles. Senior linebacker David O'Rourke made 6 total tackles, including a pair of quarterback sacks totaling 16 yards.