Grizzlies drop season-opener

Special to the Daily Journal

The Franklin College football team lost its season-opener 34-24 to Illinois Wesleyan University on Saturday at Faught Stadium.

The game had a three-hour weather delay following the first half. The teams combined for 49 points and 535 offensive yards. But both teams accounted for only three field goals and 275 yards on offense after the lengthy halftime.

Franklin jumped out to a quick start, taking a 7-0 lead when redshirt senior tight end Dylan Jenney hauled in a 22-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Chase Burton. It marked the 22nd consecutive game that the Grizzlies have scored a touchdown on their opening drive.

Illinois Wesleyan answered with touchdown passes covering 25 and 33 yards from quarterback Jack Warner to take a 14-7 lead with 14:16 left in the first half.

Franklin tied the game 14-14 with a 12-play, 76-yard drive that was capped by a two-yard touchdown run by junior Ty’Ronte Files.

The Titans took the lead for good on a five-yard scoring run by Anfernee Roberts, before another touchdown pass by Warner gave them a 28-14 lead with 1:39 remaining in the first half.

However, a lengthy return on the ensuing kickoff by sophomore Tanner Kameda set up a scoring drive just before halftime. Burton finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run with five seconds remaining, trimming the deficit to 28-21 before the lengthy break because of lightning.

In the second half, Illinois Wesleyan placekicker Michael Kelley successfully converted 22-and 35-yard field goals, while Franklin sophomore kicker Stephen Colligan made a 25-yard field goal.

For the game, Burton completed 35 passes and threw for 324 yards in his first collegiate start. Senior split end Mason Deal caught nine passes for 67 yards. Files had six receptions, while sophomore wing back Lee Wroblewski had five catches.

Defensively, senior linebacker Jeremiah Windell made 14 tackles, and sophomore defensive back Ryan Conner added eight stops.

Franklin returns to action Saturday evening at Butler.