LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall dropped a heartbreaking 31-24 contest in overtime to Ursinus in Centennial Conference (CC) football action Saturday afternoon at Sponaugle-Williamson Field. The Diplomats fell to 1-2, 0-2 CC while the Bears remained unbeaten at 3-0, 2-0 CC.
The Diplomats scored first on their second possession of the first quarter when Matt Magarity found Paul McGann for a nine-yard score to put the F&M up 7-0 at the three-minute mark. Ursinus answered early in the second quarter, using just three plays to go 46 yards and tie the game seven seconds in the second.
F&M countered with two straight scores and took a 17-7 edge with seven minutes left to the break. Facing fourth-and-one on the F&M 45, the Diplomats caught the Bears in a run blitz and Taalib Gerald hit a seam on left side of the line and raced 55 yards to the house to put the Diplomats up 14-7. The Diplomat defense forced Ursinus to a three-and-out in its next series and Connor Ryan hit a 21-yard field goal five plays later to make it 17-7.
Ursinus answered with 14 points in the final 1:56 of action and took a 21-17 lead into the break. Corey Kelly took it in from 10 yards out for the first score and the Diplomats punted the back to Ursinus on their next series, giving the Bears the ball with 38 ticks on the clock. Three plays later, with the pocket collapsing, Kevin Monahan found Shawn Hackett down the far sideline for a 62-yard touchdown and the Bears' second score.
The teams traded possessions for most of the third, but the Diplomats made the best of their series in the third quarter. After a muffed punt, F&M took over on the Ursinus 36 and two plays later Gerald ran it in from 36 yards out to put the Diplomats back up 24-21.
The Bears put together an 11-play, 43-yard drive in the middle of the fourth quarter that ended when Eric Boyer connected on a 27-yard field goal to tie the game at 24-24.
F&M took over with a little of four minutes left in regulation and appeared to be putting together a game-winning drive, taking the ball down to the Ursinus 33. But back-to-back hands to the face penalties drove the Diplomats back inside their own territory where F&M was forced to run out the clock and send the game into overtime.
Ursinus had the first possession in the extra period as the Diplomats won the toss and elected to defend first. On second-and-six, Nicolaas Drapanas appeared to make a clean play on the ball, but was called for pass interference, giving the Bears the ball on the six and a fresh set of downs. Three plays later, Corey Kelly plunged in from a yard out to make it 31-24.
The Diplomats did not fare as well on its overtime possession as Matt Magarity was picked off on the third play of the drive, securing the win for the Bears.
Gerald finished the day with 134 yards on 13 touches and two scores, one of 55 yards and the other 36 yards. Scott LaValva added another 61 yards on the ground with 16 carries.
Magarity completed 13-of-24 passes for 195 yards with a score and two picks while Paul McGann led the Diplomats' receivers with 57 yards on four catches and a touchdown.
Ryan Young paced the defense with eight stops (5 solo) and Steve Elf picked up six stops (5s) for the Diplomats. Vincent Moffett, Tre Henderson, A.J. Koikoi and Jonathan Cox all had four stops on the afternoon with Cox ending with a sack and two tackles for a loss.
F&M outgained Ursinus 391-360 yards on offense and held a 35:46 – 24:14 edge in time of possession, but the Bears had a slight edge in red zone efficiency, scoring two out of three trips, while the Diplomats went 2-for-5.
F&M returns to action next week when the Diplomats travel to Juniata for a 1:00 p.m. game.