CINCINNATI, Ohio - The Lions had been looking forward to this one for a while, they welcomed the bullies of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, The Franklin Grizzlies to Schueler Field. Franklin has won at least a share of the last eleven HCAC championships, and the Lions with designs on unseating them atop the conference came into the game riding high. They would fall short in this one though falling by a score of 42-34 in front of a near capacity crowd at Schueler Field.
This game featured the top-two scoring passing and scoring offenses in the HCAC coming in and many were expecting this game to be a shootout. In the early going though it was the defenses that stood out. The Lions dominated field position early as the teams traded punts on their opening possessions, with Jerry Porter (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder) pinning the Grizzlies at their own 1-yard line with a 58 yard punt. Three plays later the Lions defense opened the scoring, Tavon Robertson (Louisville, Ky./Ballard) picked off a Braden Smith pass and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown.
Franklin added a pair of second quarter touchdowns, and the Lions answered with a Porter 23-yard field goal. The Lions threatened to score late in the first half, but turned the ball over with only 32 seconds left in the half. Settling the half-time score at 14-10 in favor of the Grizzlies.
The Lions would regain the lead on their first second half possesion as Michael Williamson (New Richmond, Ohio/New Richmond) capped off an 8-play 75 yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. The Lions looked poised to pull away when they had Franklin backed up on their next drive. Facing a 3rd and 29 from their own 12-yard line, Braden Smith threw short over the middle. The pass fell incomplete but the Lions were called for targeting giving the Grizzlies an automatic first down, and getting one of their best defensive players ejected from the game.
Franklin would score a touchdown on that drive, and proceeded to score touchdowns on their next three drives as well. The Lions battled back into the game. A second Porter field goal, a second Williamson touchdown run, along with a Chaiten Tomlin (Mt. Orab, Ohio/Western Brown) touchdown pass to Chase Pankey (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller) had the Lions within one score at 42-34.
The Mount would not be able to stop the Franklin rushing attack, allowing the Grizzlies to run out the clock on the Lions comeback attempt.
The Lions will take to the field again on Saturday as they head to Defiance, Ohio to take on the YellowJackets in another HCAC contest. The game is scheduled for a 1:30 PM kickoff at Defiance's Justin F. Coressel Stadium.