Story and photo courtesy of Franklin & Marshall Athletics
LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall took a 14-point lead into the third quarter and held off a Johns Hopkins' rally to defeat the ninth-ranked Blue Jays 14-12 in Centennial Conference (CC) football action Saturday afternoon. The win snaps Hopkins' 22-regular season winning streak, including 20-straight in CC play, and marks the first victory in the series for F&M since 2007.
Both teams struggled to put points on the board early in the game as the defenses stepped up in key situations. The Blue Jays (8-1, 7-1 CC) first three drives ended in the F&M red zone, but Hopkins was unable to score as two drives ended on fourth down and the third ended with a missed field goal.
The Diplomats (7-2, 6-2 CC) put together their longest drive of the game following the miss, but could not convert a fourth-and-five on the JHU 19. The Blue Jays took over on downs and two plays later, Kenny Provost forced a fumble and Sam Massaro recovered the ball to give F&M possession on the Hopkins' 30.
E.J. Schneider threw a 30-yard touchdown strike to Paul McGann on the next play to give F&M a 7-0 lead with 2:35 left in the first half.
The lead stood until the third quarter when the F&M defense came away with another fourth down stop inside the Diplomat 10 yard line.
F&M took over on its own four and put together a Schneider-led seven-play, 96-yard drive that was capped off when the junior signal caller hooked up with Jordan Zackery for a 19-yard score to give F&M a 14-point edge with 4:54 left in the third.
JHU finally got on the board on its next possession with a 10-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a Branden Anderson pass to Jared Beckmen for an 11-yard score. Hopkins missed the extra point and teams went into the fourth quarter with a 14-6 score.
The Diplomats took four minutes off the clock on their next series, but turned the ball over on downs. Hopkins drove down to the F&M 24 on its next possession, but the drive came to an end when Massaro picked off Anderson.
Following the interception, F&M took another three minutes off and punted the ball to Hopkins to set up the Blue Jays on their own 16 with 3:23 remaining in the game. A little under three minutes later, Jonathan Rigaud rushed in from seven yards out to make it 14-12, but Hopkins was unable to convert the two-point conversion, allowing the Diplomats to take a knee to end the game.
Schneider completed 20-of-28 passes for a game-high 189 yards and two touchdowns and added another 86 yards on the ground to pace the F&M offense. Frank Strumolo picked up 44 yards on the ground while Zackery and McGann both finished with 56 yards. Tim Muller hauled in six passes for 53 yards for the Diplomats.
Massaro spearheaded the bend-but-don't-break F&M defense that held Hopkins scoreless in four of its six trips inside the 20 and to its lowest point total of the season. The senior linebacker had nine stops (6s, 3a), one tackle for a loss, an interception and a fumble recovery. Ryan Feulner, Kenny Provost, Mike Shin, Ryan Young and Brendan Wengerter all came away with eight tackles. Nick Barbieri had five stops on the day.
C.T. Marsh picked up four solo stops with an assist and one sack. The sack brings his career total to 31.5, which makes him the all-time sack leader in CC history.
The offensive line led by Sam Wojciechowski, Chad Tothero, Sami Caygoz, Sam Dickinson and Ryan Ignatovig allowed zero sacks on the afternoon.
The Blue Jays outgained the Diplomats 447-317 as Anderson threw for a career-high 153 yards and one touchdown. Rigaud rushed for 114 yards and one score while Dan Wodicka had 10 catches for 102 yards.
F&M returns to action on Saturday when the Diplomats travel to Gettysburg for a 1:00 p.m. contest.