LANCASTER, Pa. – E.J. Schneider scored four times to help deliver Franklin & Marshall a 36-26 victory over Gettysburg in Centennial Conference (CC) football action Saturday afternoon. F&M improved to 6-4, 6-3 CC while the Bullets dropped to 4-6, 3-6 CC.
The win marked the first time the F&M senior class defeated Gettysburg and was befitting to the day's events with 18 seniors being honored before the game as they stepped onto Sponaugle-Williamson field for the last time.
F&M was on fire in the opening 20 minutes of action, scoring on its first five drives of the game. The Diplomats received the opening kickoff and put together a 10-play, 65-yard drive that ended when Schneider took it in from eight yards out to give F&M an early 7-0 edge at 9:38 in the first quarter.
The Diplomats took over on their own six on their next possession and four plays later, Schneider pulled the ball on a read option and raced 83 yards down the field to give F&M a 14-0 lead with a little over four minutes to play in the first. F&M forced a three-and-out on the Bullets next possession and three plays later, Frank Strumolo plunged in from a yard out to make it 20-0.
F&M's defense forced another three-and-out and the Diplomats took over on their own 41. A mixture of Strumolo and Schneider made up the ensuing series that covered 59 yards in eight plays and was capped off when Schneider dove over the right guard from a yard out to make it 27-0.
Gettysburg answered on its next possession with a 78 yard scoring drive to make it 27-6. F&M countered on its next series that featured 30 yards from Strumolo in the 63-yard drive. On fourth-and-seven, Schneider found Jordan Zackery on a huge 17-yard pass to keep the drive alive before the senior quarterback finished off the drive with a one-yard score to make it 34-6 at 3:02. The Bullets managed a quick score at the end of the half to make it 34-13 at the break.
Both defenses stepped up in the second half with only 13 offensive points going on the board and 248 total offensive yards between the two teams.
The Bullets made it a two score game on their third possession of the third quarter when Paul Lowry found the end zone to bring Gettysburg within 14, 34-20, at 8:09. After a three-and-out by the Diplomats, Cody Hubbs pinned the Bullets down inside their 10. Three plays later, Brendan Wengerter sacked Zach Miller in the end zone for the safety to F&M a 36-20 lead.
Zach Miller found Peter Fessenden on 32-yard strike to cap off a 7-play, 90-yard for the Bullets at the end of the third to make it 36-26.
The fourth quarter was bizarre as neither team scored and four out of the eight drives ended in a turnover.
Schneider completed 14-of-25 passes for 159 yards and added 135 more on the ground on 16 carries and scored four touchdowns.
Strumolo went over the 100-yard plateau for the third-straight week with a game-high 177 yards on 36 carries and a score. Zackery led all receivers with 81 yards on six catches and Tim Muller finished with 45.
The F&M defense was in the Bullets' backfield all afternoon, racking up 10 sacks and holding the Bullets to just 268 yards. Gettysburg came into the game with the second-best offense in the conference, averaging 481 yards a game.
Ryan Young led the group with 15 tackles (10 s); four went for a loss including two sacks. John Stark had eight stops while Brian Velasco and Leo Chubinishvili ended with six apiece. Chubinishvili, Brendan Wengerter and A.J. Koikoi all collected two sacks while Troy Harrison and Jonathan Cox pick up a sack apiece.
The Diplomats will wait until Monday to see if they qualify for an ECAC Bowl Game.