LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall scored 13 unanswered points to start the second half and the defense picked up three interceptions as the Diplomats defeated Susquehanna 16-7 in Centennial Conference (CC) football action Saturday afternoon. F&M improved to 6-2, 5-2 CC while SU dropped to 3-5 2- CC.
The Crusaders struck first on their third series of the game with a 59-yard drive that was capped off by a seven-yard pass from Nick Crusco to Chris Beals for the early 7-0 edge with a little over three minutes left in the opening frame.
F&M answered on its next possession when the Diplomats took over on their own 17 and slowly marched down the field. Tanner Erisman picked up 19 yards on a crucial third-and-nine and then found Andrew Heird for a 36-yard pitch-and-catch. A personal foul penalty on Susquehanna put the Diplomats on the six, but F&M could not reach the end zone and settled for a 23-yard field by Billy Zwicharowski to make it 7-3 at the start of the second.
Both offenses struggled to move the ball the remainder of the quarter and F&M's defense hit another gear in the second, limiting the Crusader to just 40 yards of offense. Tre Henderson had a key interception midway through the quarter and two consecutive sacks by Brendan Daly and Joe Granahan closed out the half.
The Diplomats came out the break strong and marched down the field on its first possession to take the lead for good. Erisman rushed 35 yards down the to SU 36 on the first play and two plays later found Andrew Stefano for a 36-yard score to put F&M up 9-7.
F&M tacked on its final points of the game on its next possession with a nine-play, 89-drive. David Shellhammer did most of the damage with 31 rushing yards and another 21 yards receiving on the drive and finished the drive off with a 10-yard catch to give F&M a 16-7 lead.
The Diplomats defense continued to dominate the remainder of the game with two interceptions in the fourth quarter. Nathan English came away with first the pick early in the fourth and Brendan Daly picked off the ball in the end zone to help secure the win late in the fourth. Logan Lewis raced 65 yards on third-and-five on the ensuing possession to put the game out of the reach.
Erisman completed 9-of-16 passes for 137 yards and a score and added another 71 yards on eight rushes.
Lewis picked up 86 yards on 14 rushes and Shellhammer chipped in another 48 yards for the Diplomats.
Bobby Keyes hauled in five catches for 33 yards and DeStefano had 46 yards on two grabs and one score.
Benjamin Okun had seven solo stops for the defense while Henderson finished six and a pick. English had six solo stops, including one for a loss and an interception while Joe Granahan ended with two sacks, three TFLs, and six solo tackles.
Daly had four stops, two TFLs, and a sack and Michael Sullivan finished with a sack and two TFLS.
F&M returns to action next Saturday when the Diplomats travel to Johns Hopkins for a 12:00 p.m. matchup.