Diplomats Travel to Nationally Ranked Susquehanna - Week 4 Game Notes

Diplomats Travel to Nationally Ranked Susquehanna - Week 4 Game Notes

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Game 4
Franklin & Marshall at #24 Susquehanna
Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019 | 1:00 p.m.

Live Video | Live Stats

Series Record: F&M 14-3-2
In Selinsgrove: F&M 5-2
Streak: F&M +2
First Meeting: Oct. 25, 1898 (F&M 6-0)
Last F&M Victory: 14-7 (OT), Sept. 22, 2018 - Lancaster, Pa.
Last Susquehanna Victory: 20-10, Oct. 29, 2016 - Selinsgrove, Pa.

Series History
F&M touts a 14-3-2 record against Susquehanna, with the series history nearly evenly split between the turn of the century (1898-1915) and the 2010's. The Diplomats were unbeaten in their first 11 games against the River Hawks, spanning over 110 years, outscoring the Selinsgrove, Pa.-based university by a 284-57 margin. The rivalry has tightened considerably in recent history, with F&M holding a 5-3 record in the past decade of play, including victories in five of the last six.

The past seven games have all been decided by 10 points or less, with an average margin of victory by either side being less than six points.

The Last Meeting
No. 21 Franklin & Marshall scored on its second play in overtime and the defense came away with an interception to secure a 14-7 victory over Susquehanna.

Click here to read the full recap.

Susquehanna won the coin toss to start overtime and F&M started with the ball. Running back Joe Hartley-Vittoria did all the damage in the extra frame, picking up four yards on the first play, before breaking one off up the middle from 21-yards out for a touchdown. Drew Tomlinson's extra point was good, giving F&M a 14-7 lead.

F&M's defense set up a 3rd-and-15 on the River Hawks' possession, and after a nine-yard run by Susquehanna, the River Hawks had a 4th-and-6. Susquehanna picked up the first down and faced a 3rd-and-4 from the five before Marlen Fenstermacher picked off the ball in the end zone to secure the Diplomat victory.

Tanner Erisman completed 15-of-29 passes for 129 yards and a score and added 23 more on eight rushes. Joe Hartley-Vittoria had a game-high 107 yards on 19 carries with one touchdown for his second-straight 100-yard rushing performance of the season, while K.J. Pretty ended with six grabs for 62 yards and one touchdown.

Sebastian Silva-Muniz paced the defense with eight stops (5s) and a forced fumble, while Marlen Fenstermacher and Bobby McDevitt both finished with seven stops each. Fenstermacher had an interception and K.J. Boston had six stops, one going for a loss.

Last Game
Franklin & Marshall outscored McDaniel 28-7 in the second half to erase a 10-6 halftime deficit and defeated the Green Terror 34-17 in Centennial Conference (CC) football action Saturday afternoon at Shadek Stadium. The Diplomats improved to 3-0, 2-0 CC, while the Green Terror fell to 2-1, 1-1 CC.

Read the full recap here.

Keshon Farmer and Joe Hartley-Vittoria combined for 201 rushing yards and two touchdowns to pace the offense. Farmer picked up all 103 yards in the second half with one score on 22 carries and Vittoria ran 11 times for 98 yards and a score.

He added one more touchdown on a 3-yard scoring reception. Mack Focht led the receivers with 40 yards on three grabs and Kevin Lammers caught three passes for 37 yards.

Garrett Perschy completed 15-of-26 passes for 127 yards and two scores.

Jack Rodenberger averaged 60.2 yards on eight kickoffs with one touchback and connected on 29 and 37-yard field goals.

Isaiah Chery led the defense with six solo stops, while Marlen Fenstermacher (4s, 2a) and Seb Silva-Muniz (2s, 4a) also ended with six tackles. Peyton Snopek had two tackles for a loss, including a sack and Jake Perloski ended with sack.

Scouting the River Hawks
After thumping Lycoming in the season opener and pulling off a come-from-behind road upset of #7 Johns Hopkins, the River Hawks dropped a 24-17 decision in overtime at #8 Muhlenberg last Saturday.

A 36-yard touchdown pass by Michael Ruisch with 34 ticks left on the clock helped set up overtime in Allentown. The Mules got on the board in only four plays in extra time, and a costly third-down sack on the ensuing Susquehanna possession dashed a chance at yet another comeback victory.

Despite the loss, the close effort on the road pushed Susquehanna to #24 in the nation through its first three games. The River Hawks' high-powered offense (443 ypg) currently ranks tops in the Centennial Conference and 41st in the nation, bolstered by their passing attack (287 ypg) which ranks 42nd in the land. The Susquehanna defense has also been stingy this season, ranked 33rd in the nation in rushing defense (69.7 ypg).

Offensive players to watch include the tandem of quarterback Michael Ruisch and running back Da'Avian Ellington. Ruisch currently ranks 18th in the nation in passing yards (823 yards), 35th in completions per game (22), and 37th in passing yards per game (274.3 ypg). His ability to stretch defenses has opened up running lanes for Ellington, who ranks 15th in DIII football in yards per carry (7.49 ypc), 29th in rushing yards (292 yards), and 43rd in rushing yards per game (97.3 ypg). All of Ellington's rushing stats rank tops in the Centennial.

Earning Their Votes
The Diplomats earned some national attention this past week with their 3-0 start, cracking the d3football.com list with six votes and finishing in the top 50 teams nationally.
See the latest poll.

Defense Wins Championships
The Diplomats' defense has been absolutely outstanding this season, and it's showing up in the national rankings. The defensive unit ranks in the top 50 nationally in third-down conversions (9th), total defense (14th), passing yards allowed (18th), scoring defense (30th), and first downs allowed (38th).

In The Running
The duo of Joe Hartley-Vittoria and Keshon Farmer is continuing to make their presence felt in the F&M rushing attack. Farmer ranks ninth in the country in rushing touchdowns (5), 25th in total touchdowns, and 26th in total points scored. Hartley-Vittoria ranked 35th in the nation in yards per carry (6.54 ypc), and 42nd in rushing touchdowns.

The rushing attack as a whole is ranked 24th in DIII with over 236 yards on the ground per game.

The 4.91 average yards per rush sits in 4th place in team history after 101 carries, the best mark since 1976.

Extra Credit
Often overlooked are the special teams, who have shone brightly this season through three games. First year kicker Jack Rodenberger is one of only 27 kickers nationwide to not miss an attempt this season and coincidentally ranks 27th in the land in field goals per game.

Wideout Kevin Lammers ranks 13th in the country in punt returns, averaging 16.1 yards per return. As it stands, the 16.67 average yards per return ranks 2nd in team history, the best since 2013's 17.32 average.