Three second-quarter touchdowns in less than two minutes were the story as host Martinsville stunned Class 5A No. 9 Franklin, 32-14, at Siderewicz Field Friday night.
The loss, while not fatal to the Grizzly Cubs’ Mid-State Conference title hopes, were still damaging as the Cubs fell to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the league.
“We didn’t play well, and they did,” Franklin coach Chris Coll said. “We did some good things, but we didn’t do enough and we made too many mistakes.”
This looked to be a game in which Franklin’s high-scoring offense (averaging 32.0 a game) could continue to thrive as the Artesians’ defense was porous on paper, giving up 30.3 points a game. Included in those stats were two blowout losses to Bloomington South and Greenwood.
Four turnovers, though, stalled the Cubs.
Martinsville also had a high-octane offense and flashed it, much to Franklin’s dismay. The Artesians totaled 389 yards.
The high-scoring fiesta started when Martinsville (3-2, 2-1) took less than four minutes before quarterback A.J. Reynolds hit Jace LaFary for a 7-yard touchdown pass. Not to be outdone, the Cubs countered with a 13-yard touchdown run by junior Alex Leugers.
Franklin appeared to stop the Artesians at the goal line when Lance Jones intercepted Reynolds in the end zone, but Jones thought about running, hesitated and opted for the side of the end zone, thinking the Grizzly Cubs would get the ball on the 20.
Not so. The officials ruled it a safety and instead of dodging a bullet, the Cubs were grazed and down 9-7.
Franklin didn’t fret over the matter and scored 10 plays later when quarterback Clay Pinnick scored from the 2.
But then disaster for the Grizzly Cubs.
The first of the Artesians’ second-quarter touchdowns came 18 seconds after Pinnick’s touchdown when Reynolds hit LaFary for a 68-yard strike. After stopping Franklin, Reynolds again hit LaFary, this time from 23 yards out. Only one minute and 14 seconds had elapsed between those touchdowns.
Only 43 seconds later, a Pinnick pass was intercepted by Brandon Kent, who ran in untouched for a 23-yard pick-six. Suddenly, it was 29-14 heading into halftime.
Franklin again kept itself off the board in the third quarter with a fumble and interception, but they also kept the Artesians from scoring until the hosts added a field goal for the final score of the game.
Reynolds threw for 194 yards and three touchdowns — all of them to LaFary, who hauled in a total of six catches for 140 yards. Brayden Shrake rushed for 182 yards, giving him a total of 772 this season.
For Franklin, Leugers had 123 yards to also put him over 700 yards at 717.
“Every game is going to be very challenging,” Coll said. “We need to be a better football team by the end of next week.”
The Grizzly Cubs host Mooresville next Friday.