Fumbles sink Franklin’s upset bid

Fishing and football usually aren’t mentioned in the same breath.

But as far as Franklin is concerned they could go hand in hand, as this was the big one that got away.

Plainfield took advantage of five Franklin fumbles and benefited from a potential SportsCenter-type touchdown to take a tough 55-27 win, spoiling the Grizzly Cubs’ homecoming.

The game was delayed for 30 minutes due to lightning, but that didn’t hurt Plainfield, who threatened to run away early after taking a 10-0 lead.

Franklin had other ideas, however.

The Cubs took a 20-17 lead against the shocked Quakers, who had trouble figuring out Franklin’s offense. The home team rushed for 180 yards in that first half, with Riley McCann running for three touchdowns out of the shotgun option offense.

The Quakers couldn’t figure out which Franklin player had the ball — McCann, quarterback Jake Moore or fullback Tyler Fromer.

Plainfield couldn’t stop the Franklin attack, but it was the Cubs that did themselves in with those five fumbles —including three that occurred deep in Plainfield territory.

Plainfield didn’t turn the ball over once.

Franklin also could not stop Quakers quarterback Ben Slaton, who threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns.

The beneficiary of those Slaton passes was senior receiver Gavin Ritter, who caught all three touchdown throws for 214 yards.

It was Ritter’s second touchdown that was the turning point in the game.

Ritter stretched out and hauled in a Slaton pass with one hand and outraced the Franklin coverage for an awe-inspiring 65-yard touchdown that demoralized the Cubs.

And although it took a half, Plainfield’s rushing game also shined as 5-foot-4 sophomore Tavian Gadia rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns.

Dante Keys also had a 55-yard touchdown run for the Quakers.

McCann ended up with 122 yards on the ground to go with his three touchdowns.

Moore had a good night passing, getting 145 yards in one of his best performances of the year.

Fromer also added a touchdown in the third quarter, the last score of the night for the Cubs.

Plainfield scored in spurts, scoring not only the first 10 points of the game but also the last 31.

It was Plainfield’s third straight win against the Cubs and it kept alive the Quakers’ slim hopes of winning the Mid-State Conference title.

The Quakers improved to 3-1 in league play and 4-3 overall.

The Cubs, who dropped to 1-6 overall, are at Greenwood next Friday night.

Ken Severson is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.