The Franklin College football team won its fourth straight Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference title and a berth to the NCAA Division III playoffs with a 59-21 victory at Hanover College on Saturday.
In the process, the No. 23 Grizzlies claimed their ninth straight win in the Victory Bell Classic.
Franklin (7-3, 7-1) will host Washington-St. Louis in a first-round tourney game at noon Saturday. The Grizzlies are the first team to win four consecutive HCAC titles.
Senior quarterback Jonny West broke the school record for career passing yards with 452 yards in the game. He surpassed Chad Rupp’s (2005-08) mark and now has recorded 10,094 passing yards in his career.
Franklin started fast, scoring 28 first-quarter points. Junior fullback Sam Otley capped the game’s first possession with a one-yard score.
West threw the first of his three touchdown passes on the day to give the Grizzlies a 14-0 lead at the 9:14 mark of the opening quarter. The pass came on a 48-yard score to sophomore Michael Maloian.
The duo hooked up on the very next drive on a 41-yard touchdown pass.
The score gave Franklin a 21-6 edge. Junior Joey Pasquale scored on the ground from 14 yards away to cap the first quarter offensive barrage.
Freshman Kole Stogner, a Greenwood graduate, and Pasquale scored on one-yard carries in the second quarter to give Franklin a 42-6 lead.
After a Hanover score with 43 seconds remaining in the first half, Franklin needed only 32 seconds to answer. West hooked up with senior Kyle Linville on a 12-yard score with 11 seconds left in the half.
The Grizzlies scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to surpass 50 points scored in an HCAC game for the fifth time this season. Stogner had his second rushing touchdown of the game midway through the quarter.
Senior placekicker Mike Wood, a Center Grove graduate, connected on a 30-yard field goal at the 2:13 mark.
On the day, West completed 33 of 46 passes for 452 yards and three touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing with 58 yards on 10 carries.
Pasquale and Stogner each scored two touchdowns on the ground.
Linville led a balanced receiving effort with six receptions for 88 yards and a score. Maloian caught five passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
Juniors Dylan Jenney and Jonny Hession each had five catches in the contest. Five of Franklin’s eight touchdowns lasted less than 2:27 per possession.
Defensively, senior Jordan Segner led the unit with 10 tackles. Sophomore Nate Bryan added seven stops. Senior Zack Zehren had an interception.