Diplomats Defense Secures Homecoming Victory

Diplomats Defense Secures Homecoming Victory

Box Score

LANCASTER, Pa. - Given a 13-0 edge, Franklin & Marshall's defense repeatedly came up with plays when needed to hold off Muhlenberg in a rain-soaked 20-7 Homecoming win. Two big pass plays gave F&M (6-1, 4-1 CC) a 13-0 jump in the first quarter, not too long before the field became a quagmire. The defense took over from there.

Muhlenberg was threatening to cash in on a second life drive set up by a roughing the kicker call late in the first quarter. On first down, the Mules' (2-5, 1-4 CC) signal caller, Dan Deighan, called his own number and picked up eight yards. On the next play, he threw a lateral out into the flat. Phil Cresta lost the ball at his feet, scooped it back up and was met by a swarm of blue tacklers. Shane Gray punched the ball free at the 31-yardline where Barry Lovett scooped it up and rumbled 69-yards down his own sideline for a touchdown.

His scoring jaunt marks the first F&M fumble recovery and score since Peter Morhoric scooped and scored from 50-yards out against Carnegie Mellon in 2002. Lovett was all over the field with six tackles and a pass breakup, spearheading a defensive that forced four turnovers on downs.

The most pivotal fourth down stop came in the fourth quarter.

Muhlenberg embarked on a drive from their own 17 at the start of the period. A 46-yard pass from Deighan to Phil Cresta on a third and three set the Mules up with a first and goal from the Diplomats' 10. F&M's defense, which struggled against the run for portions of the second half, stiffened the resistance. On third and five, Lovett was able to pull Mules' fullback, J.T. Merklinger to the mud after two yards, setting up a fourth and goal at the F&M three-yardline. Deighan called his own number, trying to get his team within one possession stretching a run to the left. A diving Jeff Liberatore was able to get fingertips on the freshman quarterback, throwing him off balance just enough to send him to the turf on the Diplomats two.

F&M's offense was unable to dig out of the hole, and a flubbed punt gave Muhlenberg possession on the Diplomats' 42. Donald Wiezik and Sam Massaro conspired to make sure the possession did not last long. Wiezik got a piece of Deighan's arm going forward on a first down pass. The ball went straight up in the air and came down in the hands of middle linebacker, Sam Massaro. Massaro's third pick of the year capped an outstanding afternoon on which he posted a game-high 10 tackles.

Set up by a Kenny Provost fumble recovery in Mules' territory, F&M got on the board early. On first and goal from the seven, John Harrison hit George Eager in the end zone for a touchdown, only to see it negated by a offensive pass interference call. Undaunted, Harrison attacked the end zone again. This time he hit Jay Ridinger from 22-yards out for a touchdown.

Eager got his touchdown on the next F&M possession. A Diplomats' stop on fourth and one on the Mules' 40 set up trickery from Jarrell Diggs. He took a handoff from Harrison, rolled right, and with pressure from his backside, managed to throw a perfect strike down the middle to Eager to make it 13-0.

Both offenses were mired down in the mud for the rest of the half.

Muhlenberg came out in the second half determined to get the passing game going, which accidentally led to a sustained ground assault. The Mules marched 68 yards on 15 plays that were primarily improvisational runs by Deighen under duress. He picked up half of his game-high 66 rushing yards on the day on the drive that ended 9:28 after it started when Terance Dandridge plunged in from five-yards out for the Mules' lone score.

With the win, F&M secured its first winning season since 2004, and the first under fourth-year coach, John Troxell. The Diplomats are off to their best start since the 9-2 1996 season.

The Diplomats return to action next Saturday at McDaniel. Kickoff in Westminster, Md. is set for 1:00 p.m.


Score by Quarters













Record: (2-5,1-4)

Franklin & Marshall






Record: (6-1,4-1)



08:57            F&M            Jay Ridinger 22 yd pass from John Harrison (Mike Shin kick), 7-29 3:33, MUHL 0 - F&M 7

06:28            F&M            George Eager 31 yd pass from Jarrell Diggs (Mike Shin kick failed), 2-40 0:38, MUHL 0 - F&M 13

01:40            F&M            Barry Lovett 69 yd fumble recovery (Mike Shin kick), , MUHL 0 - F&M 20


05:28            MUHL            Terrence Dandridge 5 yd run (Michael Katz kick), 15-68 9:28, MUHL 7 -            


RUSHING: Muhlenberg-Dan Deighan 16-66; Terrence Dandridge 14-54; J.T. Merklinger 17-39; Phil Cresta 2-9; Codie Bender 1-0. Franklin & Marshall-Alan Williams 15-35; John Kaschak 2-35; Jarrell Diggs 3-1; TEAM 1-minus 2; John Harrison 5-minus 19.

PASSING: Muhlenberg-Dan Deighan 12-24-1-103. Franklin & Marshall-John Harrison 12-20-0-99; Jarrell Diggs 1-2-0-31.

RECEIVING: Muhlenberg-Phil Cresta 7-81; Steve Liparini 3-12; Bobby Bushong 1-8; Terrence Dandridge 1-2. Franklin & Marshall-Jay Ridinger 5-45; George Eager 3-49; Jarrell Diggs 2-15; John Kaschak 2-12; Michael Deutch 1-9.

INTERCEPTIONS: Muhlenberg-None. Franklin & Marshall-Sam Massaro 1-0.

FUMBLES: Muhlenberg-Dan Deighan 2-1; Phil Cresta 1-1. Franklin & Marshall-Jarrell Diggs 1-1.

SACKS (UA-A): Muhlenberg-Jake Floyd 2-0. Franklin & Marshall-Shane Gray 1-1; Mark Surma 1-0; Kyle Wengerter 0-1.

TACKLES (UA-A): Muhlenberg-Patrick McDonough 7-1; Jake Floyd 5-1; Andy Curley 4-2; Chase Nadell 3-0; Steve Nissley 3-0; Mark Accomando 2-1; Kevin Ryan 2-0; Chris Hartzell 2-0; Frank Emmett 1-1; Joe Germano 1-0; Scott Gavin 1-0; Brandon Turner 1-0; Ewan Wright 1-0; Cameron Ahouse 1-0. Franklin & Marshall-Sam Massaro 6-4; Jeff Kellar 6-1; Shane Gray 5-2; Barry Lovett 4-2; Ty Savastio 5-0; C.T. Marsh 5-0; Donald Wiezik 4-1; Jeffrey Liberatore 4-1; Mark Surma 2-2; Kyle Wengerter 0-3; Michael Deutch 2-0; Kurt Rogers 1-1; Lewie Briggs 1-0; Drew Hutcheon 1-0; Kenny Provost 1-0; Michael Marcinek 1-0; Frank DiMattia 0-1.