Let’s face it — Franklin College junior quarterback Chase Burton knows no fear.
He makes football opponents respect him.
His game is pretty simple: Throw the ball downfield and let his bevy of talented receivers do the rest.
In an improbable finish to the Grizzlies home opener, Burton engineered a 99-yard drive that resulted in a 44-39 come-from-behind victory against No. 11 Thomas More Saturday night at Faught Stadium.
Aflter Franklin’s defense recovered a Saints fumble at the 1-yard line with only 2:25 left, Burton completed 8 of 10 passes for 90 yards in the game-winning drive, which ended with a 7-yard touchdown pass to junior Tanner Wrobleweski with only 32 seconds remaining.
“We just have so many skilled players,” Burton said. “I don’t always have to throw the deep ball. They can make a 5-yard pass; a 10-yard pass or 50-yard pass. They’re all so talented.”
Thomas More kept the Grizzlies at bay until the final moments of the game on the strength of running back Chris Tarrant, who finished with 205 rushing yards on 28 carries.
The Saints jumped out to a 25-14 lead at the half and then tacked on an early third-quarter touchdown to make it 32-14.
However, the Grizzlies came roaring back with two third-quarter touchdowns, the first on a 15-yard strike from Burton to junior Lee Wroblewski and a second coming on a 1-yard plunge by senior running back Ty’Ronte Files.
The Saints had one last-gasp offensive series after the Grizzlies’ decisive touchdown, but came up empty.
Franklin College coach Mike Leonard, in his 14th year, said conditioning and attitude played a big part in the Grizzlies victory.
“They had the ball [at the 1-yard line], getting ready to score and put the game away, and you just had to believe something good was going to happen,” he said.
“I’m so excited for our guys to get a nonconference win against a good opponent who gave us a good battle.”
By game’s end, Burton stat line was staggering. He completed 51 of 67 passes for 515 yards and five touchdowns, using seven receivers along the way.
Burton, who garnered MVP honors last year in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, successfully completed a team-high 13 passes to junior Darrell Crenshaw for 104 passing yards, plus a key two-point conversion. Junior split end Deontez Alexander had a dozen catches for 164 yards and the Wroblewski twins accounted for 15 catches for 155 yards — Lee with eight catches and 73 yards and brother Tanner with seven for 82 yards.
The Grizzlies will be at Butler on Saturday, with kickoff set for 6:30 p.m.