ALLENTOWN, Pa. - John DeLuca rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown on 42 carries to lead #5 Muhlenberg to a 17-6 win over Franklin & Marshall in Centennial Conference (CC) football on Saturday. DeLuca carried the ball 12 times for 57 yards on an 11:27 drive that consumed most of the fourth quarter and ended with a 42 yard field goal by Mike Katz.
Franklin & Marshall (3-4, 2-3 CC) pieced together 129-yards of offense, compared to the 323 yards gained by the Mules (7-0, 5-0 CC) on DeLuca's back.
DeLuca carried seven times for 53 yards from scrimmage on a seven-play, 48-yard drive finished by his lone score of the day. His touches negated three Mule penalties on that series. With that, Muhlenberg made it an eight point game late in the third quarter. It was on that drive that Deluca began to assert himself. The next possession was the 11-plus minute clincher.
Muhlenberg cashed in on special teams before the half expired to take a 7-6 lead. David Mazzola's rugby-style punt got over the head of Jarrell Diggs and rolled to a halt on the F&M six late in the first half. The Diplomats' drive sputtered, forcing Jeff Hogan to punt from his own four.
Muhlenberg took over on their own 37-yardline and after converting on a third and one to get to the F&M 18, Eric Santagato dropped back for a pass. The Diplomats bottled up the Mule receivers in man coverage. Santagato sensed the opportunity and ran 18 yards down the right sideline to paydirt to knot things up. Katz's extra point gave the Mules their first lead with 1:10 in the first half.
The Mules controlled the game from that point forward.
F&M had gotten the early jump on the scoreboard, cashing in on a muffed punt that was recovered by Drew Hutcheon on the Mules' 31. Eight plays later, Ryan Murray made two moves to punch it in from four-yards out to make it a 6-0 ballgame with 4:10 in the first half. The point after failed.
F&M forced the Mules to a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, setting up the punt that doomed the Diplomats' lead.
F&M got a solid defensive day's worth of work out of James Gregory, who recorded 13 tackles, seven solo. Jeff Kellar recorded his second interception of the season, just the third thrown by Santagato this season, in the end zone early in the second quarter. F&M never found a rhythm offensively, spreading the ball between three quarterbacks and three running backs.
With the loss, F&M remains winless on the road. The Diplomats return home, where they are undefeated, for a pair of games against the Centennial's Maryland contingent. The Diplomats will first face McDaniel, followed by a visit from Johns Hopkins.