Defense Delivers for Diplomats in Victory over Bears

Defense Delivers for Diplomats in Victory over Bears

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall downed Ursinus in a thrilling 17-13 victory Saturday afternoon in Centennial Conference (CC) action. The Diplomats improved to 3-0, 2-0 CC, with all three victories coming by five points or less, while the Bears dropped to 1-2, 0-2 CC.

The Bears dominated most of the first half and took their opening possession 65 yards down the field to take an early 7-0 lead 3:24 into the contest. F&M finally got on the board early in the second when Billy Zwicharowski drilled a 31-yard field goal to finish off a 13-play, 49-yard drive that took almost eight minutes off the clock. 

The teams traded possessions and the Bears went up 10-7 on a 39-yard field goal by Eric Boyer with 33 ticks left to the break. 

F&M started the third quarter strong with a 5-play, 76-yard scoring drive. Taalib Gerald did the bulk of the damage with a 54-yard run on the second play of the drive. Matt Magarity found Bobby Keyes for a 14-yard score to tie the game at 10-10. 

The Diplomats' defense forced a three-and-out on the Bear's next possession and F&M took the ball in Ursinus' side of the field on their next drive, but turned the ball over on downs. 

Sal Bello found Matt Raymond for a 58-yard hookup, giving the Bears the ball on the F&M goal line with a fresh set of downs. F&M's defense stood tall and stopped Corey Kelly on four consecutive rushes to the keep the Bears off the board. Jon Naji, Steve Elf, Luke Foukas and Dylan Jones all recorded tackles on the goal line for the Diplomats. 

F&M's defense stepped up again inside the red zone when Ursinus had to settle for a field goal to go up 13-10, after taking the ball inside the 10-yard line. 

The Diplomats answered on the ensuing drive with a 75-yard game-winning drive that took almost four minutes off the clock. Magarity took F&M down the field in 10 plays by completing three passes for 47 yards and Gerald ended the drive with a one-yard dive, as Zwicharowski's kick gave F&M a 17-13 lead. 

Ursinus took the ball into F&M's territory and drove to the F&M 39, but A.J. Koikoi sacked Bello on 2nd-and-six to set up a long third down. The Bears were unable to pick up the first, sealing the victory for F&M. 

Magarity completed 15-of-21 passes for 148 yards and one score and added another 48 on the ground for the Diplomats. Gerald racked up 122 yards on 28 carries with a score, and Dave Shellhammer added another 82 on 11 rushes. 

Keyes had a team-high 54 receiving yards and a touchdown, while Andrew Heird and Craig Hamilton finished with 25 and 23 yards respectively. 

Elf led the way on defense with six tackles (5s) while Vincent Moffett and Brendan Daly each totaled five tackles and forced a fumble in the game. Foukas had a sack and four tackles, Naji recorded four tackles, while Koikoi and Okun each ended with four tackles each. 

F&M returns to action next Saturday when the Diplomats host Juniata at 1:00 p.m.