Franklin College football edged in OT

Penalties and turnovers are the bane of any team in football, and they usually result in bad things for the guilty party.

It was those two things that wreaked havoc on Franklin College on Saturday afternoon.

Andrew Kibler’s 49-yard field goal in overtime propelled previously winless Manchester to a stunning 27-24 win over the Grizzlies in the teams’ Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opener.

“A very disappointing loss,” Franklin coach Alan Hensell said. “Anytime you turn the ball over and have penalties, it’s tough to beat any opponent.”

All told, the Grizzlies lost three fumbles and threw an interception, and they were also flagged 10 times for 114 yards.

Meanwhile, the Spartans only coughed the ball up once.

Even without the penalties and turnovers to aid them, the Spartans did not look like a team that had been outscored 158-44 on the season and suffered a 59-7 loss to Olivet two weeks ago.

Clearly, this was a team that was aching for a victory.

Franklin (2-2, 0-1 HCAC) was playing its first game in two weeks and was looking forward to getting back on the winning track after a tough loss to Wisconsin-Platteville — and the Grizzlies asserted themselves early, taking only six plays and 50 yards to score.

“There’s no question we started out hot,” Hensell said. “We were unable to sustain that.”

A fumble led to the Spartans’ first score as Franklin botched the snap on a punt and the ball sailed over Dylan Boswell’s head. Manchester’s Quentin Willis covered the loose ball in the end zone. Kibler got off to an auspicious start when his PAT attempt was blocked, but he atoned for it with a 31-yard field goal right before the end of the first quarter to make it 9-7 Manchester.

The Spartans (1-3, 1-0) scored again on a 62-yard pass play from Trevor O’Brien to Joe Powell and all thoughts of an easy Grizzly rout ended.

Actually, those thoughts might have been quashed earlier as Franklin could gain nothing of note on the ground. The Grizzlies had minus-3 yards rushing in the first half.

Franklin started the second half exactly like the first, driving the distance and finding the end zone when quarterback Dane Andrews hit Jarrett Gibson for a 6-yard score to pull within two. Later in the third, Derek Baldin’s 38-yard field goal gave the Grizzlies a 17-16 lead.

Garrett Cora then scored from the 2, and the Grizzlies appeared to be in good shape heading into the fourth quarter with an eight-point advantage.

Not so fast.

The Grizzlies couldn’t move the ball in the fourth quarter when they needed to and midway through the fourth, Manchester’s David Smith ran in from the 1. A two-point pass from O’Brien to Justin Abiagom tied the game with 7:36 to go, and the home team couldn’t answer in regulation.

Franklin stalled on its first overtime possession. Manchester did too, but Kibler trotted out and nailed the 49-yarder with plenty of room to spare.

“We came out and retook the lead, but we were not able to sustain the momentum,” Hensell said. “I don’t care who you’re playing, but when you don’t take care of yourself and your business by playing clean football, it’s very hard to beat anybody.

“We must fix those things if we want to be the team we want to be.”

Andrews threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns for the Grizzlies, who travel to Cincinnati next week to take on Mount St. Joseph.