For the Daily Journal
Franklin gave it a great shot, but just didn’t have enough time nor the size or power to put together a two-game winning streak.
Plainfield started out fast, then used its ground game to hold on for a tough 31-26 win against the vastly improved Grizzly Cubs on Friday night.
In the first half, Franklin had trouble sustaining a drive, but the Cubs (1-6, 1-3 Mid-State) didn’t roll over and concede. They made the Quakers earn this one.
And in the process, they nearly pulled the upset.
“We felt we had a chance at this,” Franklin coach Chris Coll said. “We had a rough start, but we played well and made it a game at the end, and I can’t complain about that.”
Plainfield (4-3, 3-2) used the ground exclusively in pounding out this one. The Quakers’ 1-2 punch of senior Dawson Anderson and junior Tavian Gadia rushed for 279 and 112 yards, respectively. Anderson was the scoring force for Plainfield, scoring on runs of 1, 4, 2 and 1 yards.
Franklin, for its part, couldn’t really get anything going on the ground and had to rely on the passing game.
When it worked, it went well as the Cubs went the aerial route for 20 of their 26 first downs. Sophomore quarterback Drew Byerly threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns, with most of the yardage coming in the second half.
After a long interception return set up Plainfield’s third score for a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter, Byerly came back with a 4-yard pass to Blake Dicken.
The Cubs came up with a key defensive play when senior linebacker Garrett Eason recovered an Anderson fumble at the Plainfield 31-yard line, and the Cubs didn’t waste the opportunity as Byerly passed to senior running back Tyler Fromer for a 9-yard touchdown pass with 6:59 to go in the third quarter.
The Quakers then executed a picture-perfect 11-play, 68-yard drive with Anderson again scoring from the 1, but the Cubs countered with a nice nine-play, 65-yard drive, which culminated with Byerly scoring from a yard out.
Anderson fumbled a second time with 2:46 to go, and Byerly threw his third touchdown pass of the game, this one to Riley McCann, who broke two tackles and went 56 yards to the end zone with 1:31 left.
Plainfield went back to the ground and ran the clock out.
“We’ve improved a lot and we’re still trying improve more,” said Coll. “We’re getting there; we just need to grow more.”