LANCASTER, Pa. - Sophomore running back Ryan Murray rushed for four of his five touchdowns in the fourth quarter, when Franklin & Marshall outscored Gettysburg 28-7 as the Diplomats defeated the Bullets in a 56-38 Centennial Conference shootout at Sponaugle-Williamson Field.
Trailing 31-28 heading into the final quarter, F&M (4-6, 4-4 CC) went ahead for good on Murray's third TD, of the game, a soaring 1-yard dive with 7:49 left that made it 42-38. Murray rumbled for a school record 240-yards, marking the second time in three games he surpassed the 200-yard plateau, and third-straight game he has rushed for 100-or more yards. That coincides with Franklin & Marshall's three-game winning streak to close the season.
Murray became the first Diplomat to rush for more than three touchdowns in a game in the program's history. His fifth touchdown tied a pair of 56-year old records for Touchdowns Responsible For and Points Scored in a Game (30). Wally Witmer has maintained sole ownership of those records since he threw for five touchdown passes against Johns Hopkins back in the 1951 meeting.
The game featured 1,023 total yards of offense, with the Diplomats out-gaining Gettysburg 544-479. The 544 yards mark the third highest game of offensive production in F&M history, while the 56 points mark the most scored since F&M's 59-13 win over Georgetown in 1984.
On the game's opening drive, the Bullets drove to the F&M-18, setting up a 36-yard field goal attempt from junior Josh Huson. The snap was high and holder Mike Lynch's desperation pass fell incomplete.
It took the Diplomats just five plays to capitalize. A 53-yard pass from Kyle Turner to George Eager set up F&M at the Bullet-19, and on the next play Turner hit Jay Ridinger crossing the middle of the end zone to give the Dips a 7-0 lead with 9:29 left in the opening quarter.
Turner completed 18 of 35 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns. He wrapped up his career third on F&M's charts for passes completed (393), passing yards (4,773), and touchdown passes (37). He hit Eager 10 times for 137 yards, while Ridinger caught five passes for 110 yards.
After the teams traded punts, freshman tailback Jamel Mutunga provided the Bullets with a big spark of the bench. On his first collegiate carry, Mutunga found a hole at the line of scrimmage and burst down the right sideline 69 yards before an F&M defender caught up with him at the Diplomat-10. Two plays later, Curcio took a pitch-out left, made a defender miss, and trotted into the end zone for his seventh touchdown of the season.
F&M threw the dice on its next possession, faking a punt from its own 39, but the gamble failed as punter Jeff Hogan's pass that would have resulted in a first down was dropped.
This time Gettysburg took advantage of a mistake, as Flynn hit freshman receiver Brian Betley in stride for a 44-yard touchdown pass on a third-and-15. Huson's second PAT gave the Bullets a 14-7 lead with 1:38 remaining in the first quarter.
Another long Turner-to-Eager pass sparked F&M next scoring drive, with the two hooking up on a 42-yard play that put the ball at the Gettysburg-15. Three plays later, Turner hit Eager for the fourth time in a row, finding the sophomore for a 7-yard scoring strike on the first play of the second quarter to make it a 14-14 game.
The offensive fireworks continued on the ensuing possession, with Betley making a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch at the Diplomat-9 on a 44-yard bomb from Flynn. Mutunga gobbled up the final nine yards on three carries, thrusting the ball over the goal line from 1 yard out for his first collegiate touchdown as Gettysburg went up 21-14 with 12:12 on the clock.
After the Dips turned the ball over on downs at the Gettysburg-25, cornerback Barry Lovett gave F&M the ball right back two plays later. Lovett hauled in a tipped pass at the Bullet-37 and returned it 11 yards, and a Gettysburg personal foul put the ball at the Gettysburg-12. However, F&M was unable to capitalize, as a Paul Sousa 30-yard field goal bounced off the top of the right upright.
Gettysburg answered with a 13-play, 80-yard drive that chewed up 5:39. Flynn went 5-for-5 for 65 yards during the march, with the Bullets capping the drive with a trick play. On a second-and-goal from the 7, Flynn rolled out to his right, then passed a lateral across the field to senior tackle James Russell, who ran into the end zone untouched for his second collegiate touchdown, giving the Bullets a 28-14 lead 31 seconds before the intermission.
Russell also had a 19-yard touchdown run against Dickinson on Nov. 4 of last season in a 30-14 loss to Dickinson.
The Dips received the second-half kickoff and drove 45 yards to the Gettysburg-18, but F&M turned the ball over on downs following an incomplete pass on fourth-and-10. However, the Bullets went three-and-out on their initial second-half possession, and Turner made it a one-possession game when he launched a 45-yard touchdown pass to Ridinger, making it 28-21 with 8:57 to go in the third quarter.
A 49-yard pass from Flynn to Incremona on the second play of the ensuing drive put the Bullets at the F&M-17. The drive stalled at the Diplomat-13, but Huson drilled a 29-yard field goal to push Gettysburg's lead to 31-21 with 5:39 left in the third quarter.
Later in the quarter, F&M took over at the 50 following a punt. On the next play, Murray found a hole up the middle and outran several defenders for a 50-yard touchdown as the Dips pulled to within 31-28 with 3:28 to go in the third.
A Gettysburg fumble led to F&M's next score. Mutunga was stood up at the line at the Bullet-40, then had the ball stripped from behind by George Farrell (Hatfield, PA / N. Penn). The Diplomats recovered the fumble, and seven plays later, Murray went up the middle on the first play of the fourth quarter recapture the lead from the first quarter with a 35-31 edge.
The Bullets answered with a seven-play, 69-yard drive, with Mutunga capping it off with his second touchdown of the day, this time going in from 6 yards out to put Gettysburg back on top, 38-35, with 11:40 on the clock. Flynn highlighted the drive with a 43-yard run, perching Gettysburg at the F&M-13.
Another big pass from Turner sparked F&M on its second go-ahead drive, hitting Ridinger with a 41-yard pass on the ensuing possession to put the Dips at the Bullet-26. F&M then went to the ground, with Murray peeling off a 9-yard run, followed by an 8-yard run to give his team a first-and-goal at the 9. Senior linebacker Harold Barton stopped Turner at the 1 on a quarterback keeper, but the Dips elected to go for it on a fourth down. Murray's soaring dive into the end zone put F&M on top 42-38 with 7:49 to go.
After forcing the Bullets to punt, the Diplomats marched 67 yards on eight plays with Murray doing the bulk of the work. He carried the for 47 of Franklin & Marshall's yards on the series, including the last five to make his fourth trip into the end zone to make it an 11-point game with Sousa's extra point, 49-38.
The Bullets took over with 3:51 to play. After picking up a first down on a 10-yard pass from Flynn to Mutunga, Jeff Kellar sealed the win picking off Flynn's next attempt at F&M's 35-yardline. He returned the ball 34 yards to set up F&M on the Bullets half of the field. Six Murray carries later, the Diplomats put the exclamation point on the game and season with Murray's fifth touchdown of the day, a three-yard plunge. Sousa' point-after made it the 56-38 final.
With the win, the young Diplomats closed the season at 4-6 (4-4 CC). They will ride a three-game winning streak into the 2008 season.