They’re still sitting pretty at the head of the class.
The Franklin College Grizzlies made quick work of Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference rival Earlham in grand Homecoming fashion, beating the Quakers 40-7 on Saturday.
Ranked No. 18 in the latest D3football.com poll, the Grizzlies scored all of their points in the first half and then gave way to their subs the rest of the way.
It was the 21st consecutive conference victory for Franklin (5-1, 4-0 HCAC).
Going for its seventh straight Heartland Conference crown, the Grizzlies put together a balanced offensive attack led by junior quarterback Chase Burton, who continues to lead the nation in passing touchdowns and yardage.
Burton passed for three touchdowns, completing 11 of 13 attempts for 317 yards in two quarters of play.
With only one minute and 18 seconds elapsed in the first quarter, Burton hooked up with junior wingback Lee Wroblewski for a 33-yard touchdown.
On the very next series, Burton found junior split end Deontez Alexander, who split the seam on a crossing route down the middle for a 97-yard score to give Franklin a 14-0 lead with 10:47 left in the opening period.
“We had a good mix of run and pass,” Burton said. “The first two plays were scripted, and luckily it worked and we just kept rolling after that. Coaches did a good job of getting us the plays and the guys up front executed.”
Franklin also rushed for 138 yards, led by senior running back Ty’Ronte Files, who finished with 76 yards on six carries and a touchdown. He also had one catch for 44 yards.
Files, a native of Florida, is listed at 5-foot-5 and 180 pounds. His unique style of running with measured balance and strength makes him a threat to opponents each time he carries the ball.
“I’ve lived in Florida my whole life and I wanted to try something new,” Files said. I’d never been north. Before I came here, I’d never been out of the state of Florida but one time to play a game in Georgia. Once I came to campus to visit, I decided to make Franklin my home.
“I take great pride in my balance. When I was younger I did gymnastics. I’ve always had good equilibrium doing backflips and hand tucks.”
By game’s end, even with Franklin’s backups playing the entire second half, the Grizzlies rolled up a total of 479 yards compared to Earlham’s 310.
The Quakers’ only score came with 35 seconds left in the game on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Treylon Anderson to all-purpose back Wes Hundley.
After the game, Franklin head coach Mike Leonard said the team is right where it wants to be in the its chase for another Heartland Conference championship and an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III football playoffs.
“I’m pleased with our starting units; they did a great job,” Leonard said. “With our twos, threes and fours, we’ve got work to do, because we’ve got to be better at our depth positions.
“We’re still sitting right where we want to be sitting.”
The Grizzlies will be idle this week but will return to action against visiting HCAC foe Rose-Hulman on October 22.