Story and photo courtesy of Franklin & Marshall Athletics
GETTYSBURG, Pa. - Franklin & Marshall outscored Gettysburg 17-3 in the fourth quarter, but the Bullets were able to hold on and escape with a 38-31 win in Centennial Conference (CC) action Saturday afternoon. The Diplomats fell to 7-3, 6-3 CC and will wait to hear to their postseason fate tomorrow evening. F&M will most likely earn a berth to an ECAC Bowl game with a possibility of hosting next Saturday.
Gettysburg (7-3, 6-3 CC) jumped out to an early 14-0 lead late in the first quarter. Ted Delia took it in from two yards out for the first score and Kevin McCarthy struck on a seven-yard run with 1:21 left in the first as the Bullets put together back-to-back 10-play drives.
F&M countered with 14 unanswered points in the first four minutes of the second quarter to tie the game at 14-14. E.J. Schneider hooked up with Paul McGann on a 15-yard pass to finish a six-play, 67-yard drive just 1:14 into the second quarter.
Three plays into the Bullets next possession, Brian Velasco intercepted a Kody Smih pass and returned the ball eight yards to the Gettysburg 38-yardline. Two plays later, Schneider found Tim Muller on a 43-yard bomb and Frank Strumolo took it to the house from three yards out on the next play to tie the game at 14-14.
Gettysburg added another score two possessions later on a 15-play, 68-yard to make it 21-14 at 2:06 in the second, which stood as the halftime score.
The Bullets converted two F&M turnovers in the third quarter to take a commanding 35-14 edge with 4:15 left in the third. The first came from a sack fumble that led to a 3-play, 63-yard drive and the second turnover was an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown.
F&M switched into a different gear in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 points and stayed within reaching distance up until the final minute.
The Diplomats started out the fourth quarter with a 12-play, 65-yard drive that spanned 3:15. F&M converted two fourth downs and scored when McGann crossed the goal line with 11:56 left to play to make it 35-21.
F&M's defense forced a three-and-out on the Bullets next possession and the Diplomat offense made the best of the opportunity on its next series.
Schneider led F&M 64 yards on nine plays, completing 6-of-9 passes for 60 yards and found Strumolo on 12-yard pitch-and-catch to bring F&M within a touchdown, 35-28, at 7:22.
The F&M defense stepped up again and appeared to force Gettysburg to another three-and-out, but a questionable personal foul on a failed third-and-eight kept the Gettysburg drive alive. Four plays later Robby Fay hit a 31-yard field goal to make it 38-28 with 3:21 left in the game.
Schneider led F&M on another long drive, 72 yards, this one resulting in a 23-yard field goal by Chris DeStefano to bring F&M within a score, 38-31, with 56 seconds left to play.
F&M attempted an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but the Bullets came away with ball and were able to run out the clock to secure the victory.
Schneider threw for a game-high 380 yards on 36-for-51 passing with three scores and added another 30 yards on the ground.
Strumolo finished with 127 all-purpose yards with 98 receiving and 29 rushing yards.
Muller led all receivers with 114 yards on seven receptions while McGann finished with 52 receiving yards. Jordan Zackery picked up 101 kick return and added 45 receiving yards for a team-high 146 all-purpose yards.
Brian Velasco led the defensive unit with 10 tackles (five solo), including 1.5 for a loss and one interception. C.T. Marsh had 10 stops (four solo) while Mike Shin and Kenny Provost both finished with nine tackles each. Ryan Feulner and Sam Massaro ended the day with eight stops apiece.