FRANKLIN, Ind. – History was made on Saturday afternoon as the Manchester University football team pulled off one of its biggest upsets in recent years. The Spartans outscored Franklin 20-7 in the fourth quarter to cement their first win over Franklin in over two decades. Manchester's 30-21 triumph over Franklin College was MU's first win in the head-to-head series since 1997.
The Spartans opened the scoring on Saturday afternoon as Austin Roberts (Indianapolis, Ind./North Central) capped a 10-play, 64-yard drive by connecting with Darren Lathrop (Lafayette, Ind./McCutcheon) for a 27-yard strike in the first quarter.
Manchester added a 24-yard field goal from Andrew Kibler (Cape Coral, Fla./Mariner) in the second quarter to increase its lead over Franklin to 10-0. The Griz would eventually find the end zone in the quarter, however, Manchester maintained a 10-7 lead at halftime.
The Spartan's defense came up with a pair of critical goal line stands in the first half of Saturday's game. Facing a 3rd and Goal on Franklin's first possession of the game, Willis Sands (Miramar, Fla./Miramar) intercepted a Braden Smith pass on the 1-yard line and returned it 35 yards to promptly halt the Grizzlies' opening drive. Manchester denied Franklin yet again on the Grizzlies' second possession of the game. FC's Braden Smith had yet another pass intercepted, this time by Jaquan Walker (Hawthorne, Fla./Interlachen), in the end zone. Walker returned the pick 44 yards.
The host Grizzlies scored early in the third quarter to grab a 14-10 lead and maintained that narrow advantage for the remainder of the period.
The Spartans would not back down.
Manchester drove 66-yards in 12 plays to retake the lead from Franklin. Senior running back Donavan Henderson, Jr. (Hollywood, Fla./Hollywood Hills) capped the lengthy drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to put MU ahead 16-14. Although the Spartans' PAT was blocked, Manchester would not trail the remainder of the game.
With just under five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Austin Roberts threw his second touchdown pass of the game, this time a 7-yard completion to tight end Charlie Peterson (Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central), to put Manchester ahead 23-14.
Franklin answered right back with a 54-yard TD strike to claw back with two at 23-21.
The Spartans then promptly shut the door as Donavan Henderson, Jr. broke loose for a 65-yard touchdown run that sealed MU's first win over Franklin since 1997. History was also made as a significant Manchester record was broken – needing just 115 yards to break the school's all-time rushing record, Henderson ran for 188 yards on Saturday to bring his career total to 3,196. Henderson surpassed Dan Taylor's record of 3,122 rushing yards that was set over four decades ago.
For the game, Manchester finished with 336 yards of total offense to Franklin's 311. Manchester also held a significant advantage in time of possession on Saturday, out possessing the Griz 36:51 to 23:09.
Austin Roberts finished 13-23 through the air for 139 yards. Freshman Chico Ward caught two passes for 45 yards. Charlie Peterson and Darren Lathrop finished with 39 and 33 receiving yards respectively.
MU's defense racked up four sacks to go along with its two interceptions. Devontay Moore (Indianapolis, Ind./North Central) had 1.5 sacks for 15 yards. Logan Poll (Hastings, Mich./Lakewood) tallied a sack and Deion Gilmore (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett) was credited for half a sack (0.5) against Franklin.
Manchester earned its first win in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play this weekend. MU (2-4, 1-2 HCAC) will be on the road next Saturday, October 26, at Hanover College. Kickoff against the Panthers is set for 1:30 p.m.
Franklin fell to 3-4, 2-2 HCAC this season. The Griz will host Defiance College next weekend.