THIS WEEK'S GAME: This week's game marks the 56th meeting between Franklin & Marshall and Johns Hopkins in football as the Diplomats hold a 33-20-2 advantage in the series. Historically, Hopkins has won seven straight meetings against the Diplomats by a combined score of 239-122 for an average score of 34-17. It marks the longest winning streak in the series by Hopkins since the two teams first met in 1912. Overall, the Diplomats have not defeated the 'Jays since a 20-14 win in Lancaster in 1996.
ONE DOWN, ONE TO GO: The Diplomats will face the other half of the 2003 Centennial Conference co-champions this week as Johns Hopkins and Muhlenberg shared the title last year. This year marks the first time in school history the Diplomats will face Muhlenberg and Hopkins back-to-back.
LAST MEETING - JOHNS HOPKINS 37, F&M 14: Running back Adam Cook accounted for a career-high 268 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns as #19 Johns Hopkins University scored 21 unanswered points in the second half for their tenth straight victory, 37-14 over Franklin & Marshall College. Johns Hopkins improves to 6-0 overall, 2-0 in Centennial Conference play, while Franklin & Marshall falls to 1-4, 0-2 in Conference play. Trailing 16-7 following a 30-yard field goal by Chris Smolyn at the 11:50 mark of the third quarter, the Diplomats cut the lead to two as placekicker Dan Eggertsson (Sr., Royal Palm, FL/Suncoast) tacked on the extra point following a 14-yard touchdown reception by All-America wideout Justin Salton '03 from quarterback Jeff Harner (So., Mohrsville, PA/Sckuylkill Valley) with 4:08 left in the third quarter to cap a 14-play, 73 yard drive. However, Hopkins needed less than two minutes to answer as Mark Nesbitt finished off a five play, 56 yard drive with a 22-yard touchdown run to give the Blue Jays a 23-14 lead with 2:17 remaining in the third quarter. Following possessions by the Diplomats and Hopkins, Franklin & Marshall moved from the F&M four to the Hopkins 21 before the Hopkins defense came up with a game saving play. Facing second and 10, Harner's pass was intercepted by Joe Deluzio at the Hopkins 10 and returned to the Hopkins 48. Cook then sealed the game with a 52-yard scamper on Hopkins' first play from scrimmage to give the Blue Jays a 30-14 lead with 8:10 left in the fourth quarter. A three yard TD run by Nesbitt with three minutes remaining on the game clock accounted for the final scoring as Hopkins moved to 6-0 on the year to mark the first six game streak to open a sason for the Blue Jays since 1931. In the first hal, the Diplomats opened the game in dominating fashion marching 76-yards on eight plays for a 7-0 lead as tailback Scott Stephen (Sr., Glen Rock, NJ/Glen Rock) burst through the line for a two yard touchdown run just 1:51 into the game. The points marked the first in two games against the Blue Jays as Hopkins entered the game following shutouts of Carnegie Mellon (27-0) and Dickinson (30-0). Following a nine-play drive by Hopkins for 39 yards, the Diplomats regained possession of the ball. Facing fourth-and-two, the Diplomats elected to punt. However, a bad snap to Eggertsson forced the third year kicker to attempt to rush a kick off the Hopkins' turf from the F&M 35 which was ruled illegal and gave Hopkins the ball at the F&M 12. On the first play from scrimmage, JHU quarterback George Merrell connected with Anthony Tripllin for a 12-yard touchdown reception to cut the F&M lead to 7-6 at 7:31. Trailing for the first time since the first half of the Blue Jays 27-9 victory over Rochester, Hopkins elected to go for the two point conversion, but the pass attempt sailed out of the back of the end zone On their next possession, the Diplomats marched to the Hopkins 48-yard line, but facing two-and-10, Harner threw an interception to Matt Campbell to stop the drive. After trading possessions, Hopkins moved 60-yards on five plays capped by a Merrell to Cook 32-yard touchdown pass and an extra point by Smolyn for a 13-7 lead 10 seconds into the second quarter for the halftime score. After receiving the second half kickoff, Hopkins ballooned the lead to 16-7 as Smolyn converted a 30 yard field goal to cap an eight play, 51 yard drive with 11:50 left in the third quarter as the Blue Jays outscored the Diplomats 24-7 in the second half. For Hopkins, Nesbitt rushed 11 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns as he combined with Cook to become the first JHU tailback tandem to each rush for over 100 yards in one game since October 24, 1997 when Adam Gentile and Don Zajick both rushed for over 100 yards against Bridgewater. Merrell was 14-of-23 for 169 yards and two touchdowns to guide the passing game as wide receiver Anthony Triplin had a team high seven receptions for 67 yards and one score. On defense, linebacker Adam Luke had 13 tackles and Matt Campbell added seven tackles and a pair of interceptions to lead the Blue Jays "D" which entered the game ranked first in the nation in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense with 3.2 points and a 44.54 opponents' efficiency rating allowed per game. Further, Hopkins entered the game without allowing a touchdown pass in 144 pass attempts by the opposition, a statistic the Diplomats shattered as Salton pulled in his TD reception in the third quarter. Offensively, the Diplomats shredded the Hopkins' secondary for 306 passing yards as Harner completed 27-of-48 attempts with three interceptions and a touchdown as Franklin & Marshall finished the game with 350 net yards on offense, including 44 yards rushing. Overall, Salton led the Diplomats offense with 13 receptions for 162 yards to tie his own mark set last season versus McDaniel for the second highest single game reception total in program history. On defense, free safety Justin Koch (Sr., Sckuylkill Haven, PA/Sckuylkill Haven) and linebackers Dan Nadler '03 and Matt Capone (Sr., Scarsdale, NY/Scarsdale) led the Diplomats with nine tackles. Chris White (Sr., Vestal, NY/Vestal) added six tackles, two tackles-for-loss of 12 yards, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and an eight yard sack in the effort.
LAST WEEK'S GAME - DICKINSON 17, JOHNS HOPKINS 7: The Dickinson football team turned two of the six turnovers it forced into touchdowns as the Red Devils stunned 17th-ranked Johns Hopkins, 17-7 at Homewood Field Friday night. The Devils improve to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Centennial Conference, while the Blue Jays had their six-game winning streak snapped and fall to 3-1, 0-1. Dickinson came up with interceptions on three straight Blue Jay possessions in the first half, but it was JHU's first fumble of the game that the Devils turned into their first touchdown. Adam Cook mishandled a loose ball on a punt and the Devils recovered at the JHU 46. The Devils finally took advantage of the Blue Jays' generosity as Mike D'Amico capped a nine-play, 46-yard drive with a three-yard run with just 3:35 remaining in the first half to give DC a 7-0 lead. Dickinson pushed its lead to 10-0 on its first drive of the second half as Drew Magyar capped an impressive 12-play, 63-yard drive with a 37-yard field goal. A quick-moving third quarter saw the teams trade the next two possessions before the Blue Jays finally got going offensively late in the period. Junior quarterback Zach DiIonno connected with senior wide receiver Brian Wolcott on a 66-yard pass on a third-and-12 to give JHU a first down at the Dickinson 11-yard line. Four plays later DiIonno went in from one yard out to draw the Blue Jays to within 10-7 early in the fourth quarter. The Blue Jays had the ball three more times before Dickinson put the game away by forcing a DiIonno fumble that the Devils punched in for the final touchdown of the game. Bob Ziegler and Mike Andree sacked DiIonno at the JHU 33-yard line with just under three minutes remaining and Zac Reding came up with the recovery for the Devils. Ryne Cantwell capped the quick, four-play, 30-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run with 2:05 remaining to seal the victory for Dickinson. Senior quarterback Keven Williams was 16-of-25 for 113 yards, while Dwight Phyall rushed for a team-high 63 yards to lead the way for Dickinson. Andree and Mike O'Donnell led a tremendous effort by the Dickinson defense as both registered 10 tackles. O'Donnell had one of Dickinson's four interceptions of DiIonno. Junior T.J. Lyons rushed for a game-high 65 yards, while senior Adam Cook added 53 on just eight carries for the Blue Jays. DiIonno was just 8-of-29 for 120 yards and was sacked twice to go along with the four interceptions. Sophomore linebacker Matt Hagel had 14 tackles, while junior Mike Aynardi added 12. The Blue Jays outgained Dickinson, 246-238, but the Devils had nearly an eight-minute time of possession advantage to go along with the six forced turnovers.
LAST WEEK'S GAME - F&M 15, MUHLENBERG 10: Franklin & Marshall College defensive backs Paul Fields (Fr., Bergenfield, NJ/Bergenfield) and JC Capote (So., Ridgefield Park, NJ/Ridgefield) tackled Muhlenberg receiver Derek DiMattina at the Franklin & Marshall four yard line to cap a four down goal-line stand as the Diplomats shocked Muhlenberg 15-10 in the Centennial Conference football opener for both teams. Leading 15-3 entering the fourth quarter, the Diplomats dodged a bullet at the 13:10 mark as Muhlenberg place-kicker Brian Hendershot's 40-yard field goal attempt fell three yards shot and one yard wide left to give F&M the ball at their own 23 yard line. However, the Mules defense held as Muhlenberg forced the Diplomats back to the F&M 13 yard line with a rush for no gain, a tackle-for-loss of six yards and a four yard sack of Franklin & Marshall quarterback Jeff Harner (So., Mohrsville, PA/Schuylkill Valley) to force a punt. Facing fourth-and-20, punter Dan Eggertsson (Sr., Royal Palm, FL/Suncoast) bombed a 41 yard punt to the Muhlenberg 46 yard line as kick returner Mike McCurely fumbled and recovered the ball at the Mules 45 with 11:00 minutes left on the clock. The Mules took advantage of the field position as Keith Shalvoy rushed up the middle for four yards on first down and Nick Rosetti completed an 11 yard pass to Shalvoy down the F&M 40 on third down to set Muhlenberg up in F&M territory with a first down. The rest of the drive was all Rosetti as he scampered nine yards to the F&M 31, hit Chris Giannini for a nine-yard gain on second down and connected with Antoine Williams for a 22-yard touchdown on first-and-10 from the F&M 22 to pull the Mules to within 15-10 with 8:52 left on the game clock. The Diplomats failed to respond on their next possession going 18 yards on six plays while chewing up 3:27 before Eggertsson dropped a 42 yard punt at the Muhlenberg 5 which Phil Gasker returned out to the 16 yard line to give the Mules back the ball with 5:25 left on the clock. However, the Diplomats defense was too much for the red and gray Mules as Muhlenberg lost six yards on three plays as George Farrell (Fr., Hatfield, PA/North Penn) hammered Ross Tanner for a loss of six yards on first down. After a 43-yard punt by Muhlenberg kicker Ryan Sassaman to the F&M 47, the Diplomats attempted to move the ball down the field with 4:31 remaining for an insurance score. Following back-to-back rushes for no gain by Curtis Varner (So., State College, PA/State College) and a timeout, Harner's pass attempt to wideout Derek Boyce (Jr., Lancaster, PA/Lampeter-Strasburg) was incomplete for bring out Eggertsson for a 42 yard punt to the Mules' 11. McCurley returned the kick out to the Muhlenberg 25 to set up a dramatic final drive with 2:44 left on the game clock in which Rosetti engineered a 13 play, 71 yard drive which ended in failure. Facing third-and-10 from the F&M 49, Rosetti connected with Williams for a 36-yard gain down the F&M 15 for a first down. On first-and-ten, he hit Ross Tanner for a two-yard gain before firing a seven-yard pass to Giannini to move the ball down to the F&M 6. On third-and-one, Rosetti rushed two yards to the F&M four-yard line for a first down. Facing the possibility of a touchdown, the F&M defense stiffened as Chris Stepien (Jr., Fairfield, NJ/West Essex) dropped Tanner for a three yard loss on first down, Rosetti's pass attempt to Giannini in the endzone was batted out of bounds on second down and Rosetti could only pick up one yard on third down to bring up fourth-and-goal from the six yard line with 7.6 remaining on the clock. Needing a big play to win the game, the Diplomats responded as a screen pass to DiMattina got Muhlenberg to the four yard line but no closer to the endzone as Franklin & Marshall escaped with the win. The game did not appear to be headed towards an F&M win in the first quarter as the Mules held F&M to 14 total yards of offense in the first 15 minutes of play while taking a 3-0 lead behind a 29 yard field goal by Hendershot which capped an 11 play, 34 yard drive after a fumble by Harner at the F&M 46 on the Diplomats first drive of the game. F&M responded to open the second quarter as Harner hit Boyce for a 44-yard gain down to the Muhlenberg 23-yard line to put the Diplomats into Mules' territory for the first time in the game. Varner rushed down the middle for five yards before Harner was sacked for loss of two yards and a pass attempt to Boyce fell incomplete to bring up fourth down. On fourth down, Eggertsson hit a 38-yard field goal to knot the game with 13:19 left in the first half. The Mules had a bad break on their next possession as Rosetti led Muhlenberg 26 yards on four plays down to the F&M 18 yard line. Facing second-and-three from the 18, Rosetti attempted to complete a pass over the middle, but Farrell swatted the ball and grabbed the ball in mid-air at the 18 before scrambling and outrunning Rosetti for an 82 yard interception return, a touchdown and a 9-3 lead as Eggertsson's extra point attempt was blocked. The Diplomats first half performance was adequate as the team rushed for a loss of 11 yards on 10 carries and completed four-of-12 passes for 63 yards for 52 net yards on 22 plays in the first half. Conversely, the Mules racked up 188 offensive yards on 42 yards, including 114 yards on 28 carries on the ground, with a 19:40 to 10:20 advantage in time of possession as Muhlenberg received the better of play in the opening half of the contest. Neither team would score until the final two minutes of the third quarter as Harner dove into the endzone for a one yard touchdown run to cap a five play, 38 yard scoring drive for a 15-3 lead with 1:31 left in the quarter. Muhlenberg kept the Diplomats' lead to fewer than two touchdowns, however, as Harner's pass attempt on the two-point conversion was picked off in the endzone by Justin Adair to set up the dramatic conclusion to the game. On defense, defensive lineman Chris White (Sr., Vestal, NY/Vestal) led the way with nine tackles, including a tackle-for-loss of one yard, while Matt Capone (Sr., Scarsdale, NY/Scarsdale) and Tim Barry (Jr., Madison, NJ/Madison) tacked on six tackles. For Muhlenberg, Mark Bennett made nine tackles, recorded a sack for loss of four yards, two tackles for loss of seven yards and a fumble recovery to lead the Mules in the loss. Overall, the Mules dominated the offensive statistics beating F&M in first downs (19-to-six), rushing attempts (49-to-27), net yards rushing (177-to-17), net yards passing (198-to-112), total offensive plays (86-to-51), net yards (375-to-129), kickoff returns (three-for-122 to two-for-16), third down conversions (seven-of-19 to one-of-14), sacks (four to one) and time of possession (36:11 to 23:49). The key to the game for F&M was the punting of Eggertsson as he connected on 11 punts for 471 yards (42.8 average) with a long of 62 yards and four punts inside the Mules 20-yard line.
OUT OF OUR LEAGUE: F&M's 31-14 loss at Carnegie Mellon wrapped up the team's out of conference games as the Diplomats recorded the first winning season against out of conference squads (3-1) since the 1996 team downed CMU (28-7), Randolph Macon (20-13) and Hobart (38-24) back when there were eight CC schools. This year, the Diplomats handled Bethany (35-7 W), Oberlin (41-21 W) and Hobart (35-14 W) to achieve the winning record.
RUSHING TOWARDS HISTORY: Historically, Scott Stephen (Sr., Glen Rock, NJ/Glen Rock) is 278 yards away from joining Andy Surtz '97 (705 carries for 2,913 yards) as the only Franklin & Marshall players with 2,000 career rushing yards. For his career, he has rushed for 1,695 yards with 10 touchdowns, caught 33 passes for 324 yards with six touchdowns and has completed 25-of-76 passing attempts for 299 yards with four touchdowns.
LAST MEETING IN LANCASTER - HOPKINS 40, F&M 21: Johns Hopkins' quarterback George Merrell threw for 141 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 62 yards and another touchdown to lead Johns Hopkins to a 40-21 victory over Franklin & Marshall on November 9, 2002 in the final home game in the career of legendary F&M head coach Tom Gilburg. Hopkins jumped out to a 20-0 first half lead and the Diplomats would get no closer than 13 the rest of the way. Fullback Steve Stache capped a 13-play, 51-yard drive with a two-yard scoring run with 6:08 remaining in the first quarter to open the scoring. Merrell would have a hand in the next three Hopkins touchdowns. After Joe Nuni set he Blue Jays up at the F&M 30 with a blocked punt, Merrell took the team 30 yards in eight plays and finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Brian Wolcott to make it 14-0. After forcing a three-and-out on the Diplomats' next possession, the Blue Jays needed just 1:06 to push the lead to 20-0. On third-and-eight from the F&M 33, Merrell sprinted out to the left looking to pass, but circled all the way back across the field and sprinted into the corner of the end zone for the touchdown. F&M drew to within 20-7 just before halftime as Dave Makson '03 hit Matt Wagaman '03 from eight yards out after the F&M defense came up with a turnover with just over a minute to play in the second quarter. The drive covered 40 yards in six plays and the Diplomats needed just 37 seconds to score. Hopkins put the game away with 17 unanswered points in the third quarter. Merrell engineered a 17-play, 77-yard drive that took 5:47 off the clock on the Blue Jays' first possession of the third quarter and capped the drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to freshman Steve Eno to push the lead to 27-7. After forcing a quick F&M punt on its ensuing possession, the Blue Jays needed just one play to go 51 yards as freshman T.J. Lyons took one in from the Blue Jay 49-yard line on first down to make it 34-7 with 7:55 remaining in the third quarter. Hopkins pushed the lad to 40-7 with a pair of Chris Smolyn field goals before F&M tacked on a pair of late touchdowns. Backup quarterback Doug Hiltner (Sr., Margate, NJ/Atlantic City) connected with senior Justin Salton '03 on a 75-yard touchdown pass with 6:54 remaining in the fourth quarter and Chad Strothers '03 capped a seven-play, 43-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run with 4:37 remaining to account for the final scoring. In addition to Merrell's passing exploits, the Blue Jays outrushed F&M, 276-63. Merrell's 62 yards were second on the team to sophomore Adam Cook's game-high 70 yards, while Lyons added 53 yards and the one score. As a team the Blue Jays averaged 5.1 yards per rush. Makson, who entered the game with a Centennial-high 1,509 yards passing, was 10-of-31 for 118 yards and the one touchdown. Scott Stephen (Sr., Glen Rock, NJ/Glen Rock) rushed for a team-high 31 yards on six carries. Salton had a game-high five receptions for 141 yards and the one score.
BLUE STREAKS: JHU is 17-2 in its last 19 games dating back to the final four games of the 2002 season. JHU has never won more than 17 games in any 20-game span in school history.
24-of-28: Johns Hopkins is 24-3 in its last 27 games dating back to the final two games of the 2001 season.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Johns Hopkins is 13-5 in its last 18 road games. The Blue Jays were 4-1 on the road in 2002 and 2003. The Blue Jays are 10-2 in their last 12 road games since dropping back-to-back road tilts late in the 2001 season.