By Adrianna Pitrelli

For the Daily Journal

The Franklin College football team kicked off the home portion of its regular season against Butler on Saturday night, falling short 43-24 against the Bulldogs’ strong Division I offense, which had possession of the ball for 44 minutes.

As the nonconference schedule comes to a close for the Grizzlies, head coach Mike Leonard told his team the tough start to the season allowed them to face adversity.

“We’re down in a few ways because we hung with them tonight,” Leonard said. “We showed some really good things tonight and we feel we’re setting ourselves up to do some great things this year.”

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The Grizzlies started the game off on the wrong foot when Chase Burton was sacked in the end zone for a safety, followed immediately by a Bulldogs touchdown.

“Right from the get-go, we started and had a play that ended in a missed touchdown, then we had a safety against us,” Leonard said. “So we started out having to play from behind.”

But when the Grizzlies got the ball back, Deontez Alexander scored a touchdown on a 28-yard pass from Burton with 8:23 left in the first quarter.

However, the Grizzlies’ defense was no match for Butler’s Will Marty, who scored a touchdown on the Bulldogs’ next two drives.

With the score 26-6 after a Butler field goal early in the second quarter, Lee Wroblewski scored a touchdown to give the Grizzlies hope that they’d come from behind. But the Bulldogs continued to score.

Alexander scored another touchdown, this time breaking two tackles for an 81-yard score with 7:51 left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs, however, maintained possession of the ball as long as they could during their last two drives, keeping the Grizzlies off the board.

Burton led Franklin on the night with 329 yards passing for three scores and one interception. Alexander caught four passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

On the defensive side, Austin Fleming had 12 stops for the Grizzlies while Ryan Conner, Nathan Warman, Trace Rooks and Grant Bryan each had nine each.

Despite the tough loss, Leonard said he is hopeful for next week’s 1:30 p.m. home game against Defiance.

“We will go to the drawing board tonight and figure out a plan one day at a time,” Leonard said. “We keep fighting and we don’t give up. That’s what you have to do in life.”