Diplomats Soar over Eagles to Continue Streak

Diplomats Soar over Eagles to Continue Streak

LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall continued its winning streak with a 24-7 victory over Juniata in Centennial Conference (CC) football action Saturday afternoon at Sponaugle-Williamson Field. The Diplomats improved to 4-0, 3-0 CC - the program's best start since 1989 -while the Eagles dropped to 1-3, 0-3 CC. 

Juniata struck first with its only score of the game on the Eagles second possession in the first quarter when Matt Lehr ran in from the one to cap off an 81-yard drive for the Eagles. 

The Diplomats finally put points on the board midway through the second quarter when F&M took advantage of a Kirby Breault muffed punt. F&M got the ball back on the Juniata 29 and scored six plays later when Dave Shellhammer raced into the end zone from three yards out to make it 7-6. 

Juniata looked to counter on its next possession and quickly marched the ball into the F&M territory, before facing a fourth-and-one at the F&M 25. On fourth down, A.J. Koikoi dashed into the backfield and tackled Lehr for a three-yard loss, giving the Diplomats the ball with 1:13 left in the half. 

F&M made the best of the opportunity, and after an offensive pass interference, Tanner Erisman found Andrew DeStefano for a 44-yard pitch and catch on second-and-21, giving F&M the ball on the Juniata 39. Two plays later, Erisman found Bobby Keyes for a 39-yard touchdown and a successful two-point conversion put the Diplomats up 14-7 heading into the break. 

The Diplomats opened the third quarter with long, time-consuming drive that took nearly nine minutes off the clock. F&M picked up two third down and converted a fourth down during the drive and ultimately settled for a 24-yard field from Billy Zwicharowski for a 17-7 edge. 

F&M put seven more on the board on its next drive with an 11-play, 80-yard drive over six minutes. Stephon Smith did the heavy lifting on the drive with five rushes for 14 yards, before racing 22 yards to the house for a 24-7 F&M lead. 

Juniata had two chances down the stretch, getting the ball inside the F&M 15 on two occasions, but the defense stepped up and forced two turnovers on downs on those possessions. 

F&M outgained Juniata 366 yards to 319 and held a 36:08-23:53 advantage in time of possession. 

Erisman completed 10-for-13 passes for 182 yards and one score while DeStefano hauled in three balls for 77 yards and Keyes finished with 55 yards and a score. 

Shellhammer had a game-high 80 yards on 25 rushes and one score while Smith finished with 70 yards on 12 touches and a touchdown. 

Ben Okun paced the defense with nine stops (7s) while Vincent Moffett finished with seven solo stops and a forced fumble. Luke Foukas had six tackles (4s) with 1.5 TFLs and Brendan Daly had two pass break ups and four stops. Jon Naji got in on one sacks, Nate English received a fumble and Tre Henderson ended with two pass break ups for the Diplomats. 

F&M returns to action next Saturday when the Diplomats host Dickinson on Homecoming for the Wagon Trophy at 1:00 p.m.