Lancaster Sunday News reporter Dave Byrne was a straggler in the press box, waiting for final stats to arrive. He looked out on Sponaugle-Williamson Field at the few stragglers remaining on the field. He pointed to Ryan Murray, kneeling on the 50 yardline, looking back in the direction of Mayser Center and taking in his gridiron one last time.
"He doesn't want to leave the field," said Byrne.
In the antiseptic play-by-play spit out by a computer, Murray rushed one time for nine yards. His only carry of the game was a key difference in Franklin & Marshall's rally from behind, 29-24 win over Wilkes in the ECAC South Atlantic Bowl. Facing third and six with his team in a 24-17 hole, Murray took a handoff and picked his way to the left side of the F&M line. He absorbed a hit two yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
It knocked him off balance, but not to the ground. Murray planted a hand, flopped forward two yards, planted a hand again, and willed himself three yards beyond the line for a first down. Four plays later, he saw John Kaschak punch into the endzone to get his team within a PAT.
Murray's guts on his lone carry sums up the story of eight seniors. Murray never pouted about touches going elsewhere. He worried about winning. Undersized linebacker and classmate Frank DiMattia faced an uphill fight to climb the depth chart, but he climbed his way into the lineup, making tackle after tackle all season long. Clarke Miller relished in the role of being the only returning starter on an otherwise green offensive line. Mike Marcinek made tackles in his opportunities, while George Eager, Barry Lovett, Jeff Kellar, and Jeff Liberatore all did what they have done so well since coming to F&M.
In this season, it all started coming together. After three seasons on the wrong side of .500, he and his seven fellow seniors delivered Franklin & Marshall a record of 9-2, the best since the 1996 9-2 campaign. This class was at the forefront of righting one of college football's most historically successful ships.
And because there is still some justice in the world, Murray got his moment in the sun.
With eight seconds left in the ballgame, his team down by a point, Murray made his way to the front left corner of the endzone, John Harrison dropped a pass into the seniors hands as he was falling backwards, and six points went up on the board. The 19 unanswered points answered any questions about the guts of a team that trailed 24-10 early in the third quarter.