Grizzly Cubs falter late

MOORESVILLE — For most of Friday’s Mid-State Conference contest, it looked like Franklin’s football team would win a game the statistics suggested they shouldn’t.

The Grizzly Cubs managed just 24 offensive yards in the first half and lost three fumbles in the first three quarters but still led 22-21 early in the fourth quarter. Their final turnover, however, proved to give host Mooresville the nudge they needed.

The Pioneers’ Gavin Evans intercepted Franklin quarterback Jake Moore at the Cubs’ 30-yard line, returning it to the 19. Four plays later, Josh Bradford scored the go-ahead touchdown, and Jalen Comer’s two-point conversion catch provided Mooresville with a 29-22 lead. The Pioneers’ defense stymied Franklin on each of their final two possessions to hold on for the victory.

Mooresville won for the first time in six tries and improved to 1-3 in Mid-State play. Franklin, which won its first game last week (a 44-42 win over Martinsville on Sept. 16), fell to 1-5 and 1-2.

Franklin coach Adam Reese gave Mooresville credit for making good plays on all of the Grizzly Cubs’ turnovers, including the game-turning interception.

“We just couldn’t overcome that,” he said. “I called the play, so the blame should start with me. It was a bad idea.”

Before that, Franklin used special teams and turnovers to build a lead, despite its early stagnant offense. After Mooresville scored the game’s first touchdown with 10:24 remaining in the second quarter, Ranger Soots took the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. When Mooresville jumped offsides on the extra-point try, Reese sent the offense back out for a two-point try, and Tyler Fromer scored on a run to give the Cubs an 8-7 edge.

Two Mooresville possessions later, Franklin’s Lane Voris blocked a 33-yard field goal attempt. After the Pioneers forced a three-and-out on Franklin’s next possession, Alec MacLennan intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown, giving the Cubs a 15-7 lead.

Mooresville responded with a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 21-15 lead, but Franklin answered back on its next possession with its best drive of the night. The Cubs marched 80 yards in nine plays, ending with a Fromer 8-yard touchdown run that gave Franklin a 22-21 lead.

“It takes all three phases, and the defense and special teams stepped up,” Reese said. “This was a fun game to be a part of. We’ve just got to be a little more opportunistic.”

Franklin hosts Plainfield on Friday.

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Adam Wire is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.