LANCASTER, PA - Centennial Conference co-champion Franklin & Marshall College (7-3) will host Moravian College (7-3) at 12:30 p.m. on November 20 at Sponaugle-Williamson Field in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Southwest Championship game.
The bid marks the fifth ECAC berth in school history and the second time F&M has hosted an ECAC game. In 1986, F&M fell at Wagner 40-28 in the first postseason game in program history. The next year the Diplomats knocked off Kean 21-0 in Lancaster for the program's first postseason win. Franklin & Marshall dropped St. Johns 31-18 on the road in 1989 for its second ECAC victory behind an MVP performance by wide receiver Dale Amos '90 before falling to the United States Merchant Marine Academy 20-0 at Robeson Stadium in East Orange, New Jersey in 1996.
The matchup marks the 19th meeting between the two former Middle Atlantic Conference opponents as F&M holds a 15-3 advantage in the series. The last time the two programs clashed, the Greyhounds held F&M to 27 yards on 11 rushes, while quarterback Bill Meekings '94 completed 23-of-47 passes for 212 yards with three interceptions and a 17 yard touchdown toss to Zach Kraft '94 in a 14-7 loss on September 12, 1992 in Bethlehem. Further, Franklin & Marshall dropped the last meeting with Moravian in Lancaster as the Diplomats fell 7-6 in the 1991 season opener.
The ECAC bid and Centennial Conference championship mark a dramatic five year comeback by the Diplomats as F&M finished 0-10 in 2000, 1-9 in 2001, 4-6 in 2002, 4-6 in 2003 and 7-3 this year. A key to the turnaround has been second year head coach Shawn Halloran who has an 11-9 mark since taking over the program from Tom Gilburg in the winter of 2003.
Halloran first came to national prominence as a member of the Boston College football team from 1982-1986 where he served two years as the back-up quarterback to Doug Flutie, before earning the starting job in 1985.
Among a litany of superb passers in B.C. history, he ranks third behind Flutie and Glenn Foley in Boston College's all-time passing yardage statistics, with 5,252 yards. Both Flutie and Foley exceeded the 10,000-yard mark, but each had almost a full four years of play to accomplish the feat. Three times Halloran threw for more than 400 yards in a game, and three times he tossed four touchdown passes in a single contest.
He ranks fifth all-time in touchdown passes with 30, second to Mike Kruczek in completion percentage (57.5%) and third in career completions with 416, his individual season and game marks include most attempts (423), and completions (234) in a season; and a tie with Red Harris for most attempts in a game (57).
He has guided a team this year that defeated Bethany (35-7 W), Oberlin (41-21 W), Hobart (35-14 W), Muhlenberg (15-10 W), McDaniel (20-7 W), Ursinus (28-21 W) and Gettysburg (38-20 W) and fell to Carnegie Mellon (31-14 L), Johns Hopkins (20-14 L) and Dickinson (17-14 L).
Leading the offense this year is quarterback Jeff Harner (So., Mohrsville, PA/Schuylkill Valley) who completed 92 of 193 attempts with six interceptions and 11 touchdowns for an average of 153.2 passing yards per game. Further, he carried 43 times for 171 yards with three rushing touchdowns as he led the team with 1,703 yards of net offense (170.3 ypg).
In the latest Centennial Conference statistics, he ranks among the CC leaders in passing average (second, 153.2 ypg), total offense (second, 170.3 ypg), pass efficiency (second, 126.9), completion percentage (sixth, 47.7) and passing touchdowns (third, 11) as he led the #1 ranked passing (234.2 ypg), scoring (25.4 ppg) and total (372.0 ypg) offense.
For his career, Harner has completed 222 of 461 passing attempts for 2,912 yards with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in two seasons since transferring from Division II West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Further, he has carried 134 times for 279 yards with five touchdowns for 3,191 yards of total offense to account for 25 touchdowns.
He combined with fellow quarterbacks Doug Hiltner (Sr., Margate, NJ/Atlantic City), the CC's top rated passer with a 132.4 efficiency rating, and Kyle Turner (So., Haddonfield, NJ/Haddonfield), tailback Scott Stephen (Sr., Glen Rock, NJ/Glen Rock) and punter Dan Eggertsson (Sr., Royal Palm, FL/Suncoast) to complete 155 of 312 passes for 21 touchdowns and 2,342 yards as F&M reset the program single season record for passing offense previously held by the 1995 team (2,189 yards).
Another player to watch is Eggertsson who leads the Centennial Conference in punting with a 40.7 yard average (59 punts for 2,401 yards) and ranks second in point after efficiency (97.0 percent).
Further, he ranks third in field goals (six), fourth in field goal percentage (six-for-10, 60.0 percent), second in scoring by kick (50 points) and fourth in scoring with 5.0 points per game.
Historically, his 2,401 yards this season mark the third most yards ever punted for by a Franklin & Marshall player, while his average of 40.7 yards per punt establishes a new school season record erasing the previous mark of 39.9 set by Jon Bushey '97 (51 for 2,035 yards) in 1996. Further, this year's team averaged 40.8 yards per punt (60 for 2,448 yards) to eclipse the previous F&M season record of 39.01 held by the 1996 Diplomats.
For his career, Eggertsson has punted 152 times for 5,823 yards with 45 punts inside the 20-yard line, eight fair catches and seven touchbacks to finish second in punting average behind Bushey (38.4) and fourth in total punts in program history.
On the ground, Stephen has carried 204 times for 806 yards with six rushing touchdowns this season as the Diplomats have accumulated 1,378 rushing yards on 384 carries for 10 touchdowns this season. In addition, he has pulled down 13 passes for 180 yards with three touchdowns and returned five punts for 32 yards.
Following a 162 yard rushing performance at Gettysburg in a 38-20 regular season ending victory, he moved into second place in single season rushes (204) and raised his career numbers to 619 carries for 2,231 yards as he ranks second in both categories in Franklin & Marshall College history as he is only the second player to reach 2,000 rushing yards.
At wide receiver, Derek Boyce (Jr., Lancaster, PA/Lampeter-Strasburg) is F&M's leading receiver with 42 receptions for 759 yards and eight touchdowns to up his numbers at the College to 55 receptions for 936 yards and nine touchdowns in two seasons after transferring from West Chester University.
The key to the Diplomats' defensive efforts will be linebacker George Farrell (Fr., Hatfield, PA/North Penn) who ranks 10th on the team in tackles with 39 (20 solo, 19 assisted) as he has registered seven tackles for loss of 36 yards, 3.5 sacks for 27 yards, one interception for 82 yards and a touchdown, four pass breakups and one fumble forced
Against the Bullets, he had seven solo stops, a tackle-for-loss of four yards, one fumble forced and a sack for loss of four yards as Franklin & Marshall held Gettysburg to 129 rushing yards and 161 passing yards for 290 yards of total offense.
As a team, Franklin & Marshall ranks among the Centennial Conference leaders in scoring offense (first, 25.4 points), scoring defense (fifth, 16.8 points), pass offense (first, 234.2 yards), pass defense (seventh, 183.3 ypg), kickoff returns (third, 18.5 yards), punting (first, 40.8 yards), net punting (first, 35.1 yards), turnover margin (third, +2), rushing offense (fourth, 137.8 yards), rushing defense (fifth, 141.4 yards), total offense (first, 372.0 yards), total defense (fifth, 324.7 yards), punt returns (sixth, 6.3 yards), pass efficiency (first, 127.9), pass defense efficiency (sixth, 103.6), first downs (second, 187), opponent first downs (sixth, 178), sacks by (fifth, 19 for 116 yards), penalties (fifth, 48 for 507 yards), opponent penalties (first, 61 for 550 yards), fourth down conversions (second, 58.3 percent), opponent fourth down conversions (second, 37.9 percent), red zone offense (second, 72.7 percent), red zone defense (second, 55.6 percent), third down conversions (third, 33.5 percent), opponent third down conversions (fifth, 33.7 percent), sacks against (second, 16 for 91 yards), field goal percentage (third, 60.0 percent), PAT kicking (first, 32-for-33), time of possession (sixth, 28:05) and kickoff coverage (seventh, 23.2 yards).
In other ECAC championship game action, UMass-Dartmouth (7-3) visits Ithaca (8-2) in the Northwest game, Norwich (7-3) goes to Alfred (7-3), Fitchburg (8-3) travels to Springfield (7-2) in the North Atlantic game, Albright (7-3) goes to McDaniel (6-3) in the South Atlantic game and Waynesburg (7-3) visits Johns Hopkins (8-2) in the Southeast game.