(CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky.) – The 19th-ranked Thomas More College football team opened the 2017 season today (Saturday, September 2, 2017) with a 47-37 victory over Franklin College at BB&T Field in Crestview Hills, Kentucky.
The Saints (1-0) never trailed the Grizzlies (0-1) as they led 20-7 after one quarter, 30-14 at halftime and 40-21 after three quarters.
Thomas More took an early 7-0 lead when senior quarterback Brenan Kuntz (Independence, Ky./Simon Kenton) connected on a 32-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Daylin Garland II (Newport, Ky./Newport) and sophomore place kicker Cole Mathias (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg) added the point-after-attempt with 9:15 to play in the first quarter. Junior running back Hjavier Pitts (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mt. Healthy) scored on the 60-yard run and Mathias added the PAT with 6:08 to play in the opening quarter to extend the lead to 14-0. Franklin cut the lead to 14-7 with 2:46 to play in the quarter when Deontez Alexander scored and Stephen Colligan added the PAT. The Saints increased the lead to 20-7 at the end of the first quarter when Pitts scored on a two-yard run and Mathias' PAT failed.
The Saints extended the lead to 27-7 with 8:30 to play in the second quarter when Pitts scored on a four-yard run and Mathias added the PAT. The Grizzlies cut the lead to 27-14 when Alexander scored on another touchdown catch and Colligan added the PAT with 7:05 to play in the second quarter. Thomas More increased the score to 30-14 at halftime when Mathias connected on a 28-yard field goal with 1:48 to play in the second quarter.
Thomas More opened the second half with a 13-play possession and took a 37-14 lead when Kuntz connected on a seven-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Da'marco Canty (Bogart, Ga./North Oconee) and Mathias added the PAT with 8:38 to play in the third quarter. Franklin cut the lead to 37-21 when Lee Wroblewski scored on a three-yard touchdown catch and Colligan added the PAT with 6:37 to play in the third stanza. Mathias extended Thomas More's lead to 40-21 with 49-seconds to play in the third quarter when he made a 24-yard field goal.
Franklin's Wroblewski scored on a 45-yard touchdown catch and the Grizzlies converted the two-point conversion with 14:15 to play in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 40-29. Kuntz scored on a 41-yard touchdown run and Mathias added the PAT to extend the lead to 47-29 with 9:49 to play in the game. Alexander scored on a nine-yard touchdown catch with 7:05 to play in the game and the Grizzlies converted the two-point conversion and cut the lead to 47-37. Sophomore defensive back Thomas Williams (Oregonia, Ohio/Clinton Massie) ended Franklin's last drive as he intercepted the Grizzlies and sealed the 47-37 victory.
Thomas More out-gained Franklin 581 yards (391 rushing/190 passing) to 350 yards (35 rushing/315 passing).
The Saints were led by Kuntz, who was 14-of-22 passing for 190 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 114 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries. Pitts rushed for 197 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries and junior running back Luke Zajac (Edgewood, Ky./Dixie Heights) had 15 carries for 81 yards. Garland led the receiver corps with four catches for 67 yards and one touchdown and senior wide receiver Darryl Keels (Louisville, Ky.Seneca) had four catches for 40 yards.
Thomas More was led on the defensive side of the ball by sophomore linebacker Adam Guard (Lawrenceburg, Ind./Pinecrest Academy) with seven tackles (two solo/five assisted) and senior defensive back Johnny Lammers (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder) with seven tackles (seven assisted) and one break-up. Williams had five tackles (two solo/three assisted) with an interception and a break-up and junior defensive back Steven Everson (Scottsdale, Ga./Heritage) with five tackles (four solo/one assisted).
Thomas More returns to action next Saturday (September 9) when it hosts Bridgewater (Va.) College at 1 p.m. at BB&T Field in Crestview Hills, Kentucky.