DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Turnovers were a problem Saturday afternoon for the Franklin Community High School football team. So was host Brownsburg’s defense.
The result was a 68-7 loss for the Grizzlies Cubs.
The game had been postponed from Friday night due lightning. It was delayed for more than an hour at halftime Saturday because of lightning, as well.
Although the Class 5A Cubs (0-3) arrived home late Friday and then made an early-morning return trip for a 10 a.m. kickoff, coach Adam Reese didn’t offer that as an excuse.
“It was different, but there are different scenarios that present themselves all the time to these kids, and to us as adults,” Reese said. “If they’ve got any enthusiasm for the game of football, it doesn’t matter if it’s night or day, or Friday or Saturday, sunny or rainy, or if a lot of people are here to watch. They will just want to go out and play.
“We’ve got some kids on our team who truly feel that way and are excited to play whenever they get the opportunity.”
Class 6A Brownsburg (1-2) picked up its first win on the season in large part due to the work of starting quarterback Hunter Johnson, who threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in the first half.
The opening minute was very eventful. Franklin defensive back Cole Miller pulled in an interception on the game’s second play, but the Cubs coughed up the ball on a fumble on the game’s next play.
Brownsburg responded with a 38 yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Ray White for a 7-0 lead.
Franklin answered with a flourish. Running back Phoenix Campos went on back-to-back 20-yard runs, taking an option pitch from quarterback T.J. Ahlefeld and benefiting from a crushing block from split end Nathan Bonham on both plays. Ahlefeld then threw a 17-yard pass to Campos to set up an 8-yard scoring jaunt from Tyler Fromer, with Campos making the conversion to tie the game.
That turned out to be a high-water mark for the Cubs, as Brownsburg repeatedly marched down the field with a no-huddle offense as Johnson found success through the air and on the ground. Franklin also contributed with some turnovers that kept its own offense from completing promising drives.
By the end of the first quarter, the Bulldogs had a 27-7 lead, which stretched to 41-7 by halftime.
A telling stat is that Brownsburg had slightly fewer than 300 yards of total offense in the opening half. Franklin compiled 200 yards but also turned over the ball five times in 24 minutes.
After the halftime lightning delay, both teams substituted liberally. But the Bulldogs were able to advance the ball consistently on the ground, while Franklin ended the game with eight turnovers.
Highlights for Franklin included interceptions by Cole Miller and Nathan Bonham, and nearly 200 yards of total offense Ahlefeld. In the second half, senior running back Zach Dowell ran well, although a 60-yard run was called back for offsetting personal foul penalties.
Reese said the message to his team going forward is to build on positives with an understanding that there is much room for improvement.
“There were some things we did well at times, but we have to be more consistent,” Reese said. “I think we can focus better, we can execute better, we can prepare better. But we do show some signs occasionally of doing things well so we want to highlight those as much as possible.”
Franklin hosts Mid-State Conference and county rival Whiteland on Friday.