HUNTINGDON, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall held off a late rally by Juniata and defeated the Eagles 35-33 in Centennial Conference (CC) football action Saturday afternoon. The victory gives F&M a 599-478-47 all-time record and brings them within one win of becoming the eighth Division III institution to amass 600 victories. F&M improved to 2-2, 1-2 CC this season while the Eagles dropped to 2-2, 1-2 CC.
Juniata put together a 69-yard drive with under three minutes to play in the fourth quarter and scored with 1:27 left in action to come within two, 35-33. The Eagles ensuing onside kick was recovered by F&M, but a combination of good defense and timeouts gave Juniata the ball back with 23 seconds left to play. Ward Udinski connected on 40-yard pass on the Eagles second play as Juniata looked to picked up momentum, but two plays later, A.J. Koikoi sacked Udinski and time ran out, securing the win for F&M.
The Diplomats struck first in the opening quarter when Jordan Zackery took a pass from Zachary Bradley and ran it from 12 yards out to make it 7-0. A bad snap on a punt on F&M's next possession, gave Juniata the ball on their own two and Udinski hit pay dirt on the Eagles first play to make it 7-7.
Ken Kysor hit a 34-yard field goal early in the second quarter to give Juniata a 10-7 edge, but F&M responded on its next possession with an 11-play, 59-yard drive that took almost six minutes off the clock. The run-heavy drive ended when Bradley and Zackery hooked up for a 13-yard score and Billy Zwicharowski's PAT went through to make it 14-10.
F&M added another score with 3:18 left in the second quarter as Bradley found Paul McGann on a 29-yard strike to put F&M up 21-10 at the break.
Udinski finished off Juniata's opening drive in the third quarter with a five-yard score and brought the Eagles within five, 21-16. F&M countered with a quick 63-yard drive capped off with Bradley and McGann hooking up again, this time on an 18-yard pass, to put F&M 28-16.
Juniata did not back down, and scored 10 unanswered points to come within two, 28-26, with 10:35 left in the game. F&M answered with methodic and physical drive that took over seven minutes off the clock. Taalib Gerald did the majority of the damage in the drive with 68 yards on 10 carries, including a six-yard jaunt with 3:01 on the clock that put the Diplomats up 35-26, which set up Juniata's rally attempt.
Bradley completed 19-of-26 passes for 193 yards and four scores in his collegiate debut. McGann finished with 105 yards on nine catches with two scores and Zackery hauled in six passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns.
Gerald went over the 100-yard plateau for the second week in a row with 102 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown. Scott LaValva added another 48 yards on 13 touches.
Zwicharowski connected on all five extra points tries and Cody Hubbs averaged 37.7 yards with two punts downed inside the 20.
Defensively, the Diplomats were led by Nicolaas Drapanas and Brendan Daly with 10 stops apiece. Brian Velasco finished with seven tackles while Luke Foukas, Steve Elf and Koikoi all had six tackles. Koikoi finished with two sacks and three tackles for a loss.
F&M will look to get win 600 next Saturday when the Diplomats take on Dickinson for the Battle of the Wagon at 1:00 p.m. in Carlisle.