The Franklin College football team scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns in earning a 49-31 win against Bluffton University in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play Saturday.
The Grizzlies (2-2, 2-0 HCAC) led 30-24 entering the fourth quarter before striking twice in the first six minutes to pull away for the victory. They added another touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to take a 49-24 lead.
Bluffton (1-2, 0-1 HCAC) scored a touchdown with 12 seconds remaining to trim the margin to 18 points.
Sophomore quarterback Chase Burton led the offensive attack with a career-high six touchdown passes, including four first-half strikes to four different receivers. He hooked up twice for scores with senior split end Mason Deal and sophomore wingback Lee Wroblewski.
Bluffton took an early 7-0 lead on a 23-yard pass play with 11:50 left in the first quarter.
The Grizzlies answered with a three-yard touchdown pass from Burton to Deal to tie the game, 7-7. The score came on a fourth-down conversion.
The Beavers regained the lead, 10-7, on a 26-yard field goal to cap a 12-play, 75-yard drive with 3:35 left in the first quarter.
On its next drive, Franklin took its first lead on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Burton to Wroblewski to close out a high-scoring first quarter. A missed extra point gave the Grizzlies a 13-10 lead.
Burton added two more passing touchdowns later in the first half as Franklin built a 27-10 lead. The first score went 47 yards to junior running back Kole Stogner in the first minute of the second quarter. Burton then found sophomore split end Darrell Crenshaw from 19 yards out at the 3:23 mark.
Bluffton added a five-yard rushing touchdown in the final minutes of the first half to cut the margin to 27-17, at halftime. The Beavers then added an 18-yard touchdown pass in the first two minutes of the third quarter to get within three points.
Franklin pushed the lead to six points, 30-24, on a 29-yard field goal by sophomore Stephen Colligan with 6:34 remaining in the third quarter.
On Bluffton’s next drive, junior defensive back Taylor Christensen picked off a pass. After a Franklin punt, the defense stopped the Beavers on a fourth-down attempt at the Franklin 36-yard line with 42 seconds left in the third quarter.
Then, Franklin’s two quick scores through the air in the fourth quarter helped it pull away.
Burton finished 28 of 45 with six touchdowns and 382 passing yards. Junior running back Ty’Ronte Files rushed for a career-high 107 yards, including a 65-yard score in the fourth quarter. Wroblewski led the receivers with nine catches for 121 yards. Deal added eight receptions for 91 yards.
The offensive line helped the Grizzlies record 532 yards of total offense and score on all four of their red zone trips.
Defensively, senior linebacker Jeremiah Windell registered a game-high 11 tackles. Sophomore lineman Dmitri Wilson added eight tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss. Sophomore defensive back Ryan Conner and Christensen each had an interception.
Senior punter Cody Beeks pinned three punts inside the 20-yard line and averaged 40.3 yards per punt.
Franklin hosts HCAC rival Manchester University on Saturday. Both teams are unbeaten in league play.