Senior quarterback Gavin Mitchell ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more as the Beech Grove Hornets rallied to defeat the Franklin County Wildcats 28-21 Friday night at Beech Grove’s TCU Veterans Stadium.
Spotting a 6-0 Franklin County lead, Mitchell led the comeback by scoring two one-yard touchdown runs, giving Beech Grove (6-3) a 14-6 lead after one quarter of play. He then found wide receiver Jorden Murphy for a 37-yard scoring strike to extend the advantage to 20-6. But the Wildcats scored on a three-yard run by senior running back Josh Bauman with 16.3 seconds remaining in the first half, coupled with senior quarterback Adam Kelly’s two-point conversion run, to cut Beech Grove’s lead to 20-14 at halftime.
But the play of the game came in the third quarter. As the visiting Wildcats had a first-and-goal from the Hornet four-yard line, the Beech Grove defense dug in. It stuffed Franklin County (4-2) on three plays, resulting in a net loss of 10 yards. On fourth down at the BG 14, Kelly threw a pass to junior running back Bridger Bolos for 13 yards, but Bolos was stopped short of the goal line by a yard, resulting in a turnover on downs for the Hornets. Franklin County, however, took the lead with 6:38 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 26-yard TD aerial from Kelly to Bolos and a extra-point kick by Kelly to make the score 21-20.
Beech Grove would respond two minutes and thirty-three seconds later when Mitchell completed an eight-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Aeden Crawley in the middle of the end zone, giving the Hornets a 26-21 lead. Damon Thompkins’ extra-point run was good, making the score 28-21. The Wildcats’ return on the ensuing kickoff resulted in a fumble by junior Kristian Prows, which was recovered by Beech Grove’s Jacob Skinner. Gavin Mitchell and Co. would run out the remaining time as the Hornets held on for the victory.
Mitchell finished his evening completing 16-of-27 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns, throwing one interception (his first in a month). He was also Beech Grove’s leading ball carrier with 65 yards on 25 carries, scoring two touchdowns, his 10th and 11th of the season. Mitchell trails classmate Garrett Esposito in touchdowns scored by four (Esposito 15, Mitchell 11). Murphy’s touchdown reception was his eighth of the season while Crawley’s TD grab was his second of the campaign.
The Hornets won during interim head coach Troy Edwards’ debut. Edwards, who will serve as interim coach the rest of the season, took over for Mark Weller, who abruptly resigned as head football coach earlier this week. Weller leaves his post as the third-winningest coach in program history (44 wins, 57 losses).*
Beech Grove will begin sectional play next Friday night when it hosts the Shortridge Blue Devils at TCU Veterans Stadium. The Hornets will be looking for their first win in the state tournament in six years. Kickoff is at 7 p.m., with game tickets priced at $6.00. The first-round game, which was originally supposed to be played at Shortridge High School, was moved to Beech Grove to accommodate a larger crowd.
*Record includes three forfeit losses from the 2019 season