Saturday's Game: Catholic (0-1) at Franklin & Marshall
F&M Game Notes (Additional Content in PDF)
Overall: CUA leads 7-2 | In the District: CUA 4-1 | In Lancaster: CUA 3-1 | Streak: CUA +2
Two of the nation’s oldest football program’s square off for the 10th time since 1930. Catholic holds a 7-2 edge on Franklin & Marshall in a series that began in 1930 and then went dormant for 67 years.
The first meeting was played in the nation’s capital on October 4, 1930, and saw the Diplomats come away with a 22-7 win. The teams reconvened in the same city on the same date in 1997, with the Cardinals taking a 35-21 decision. That was the first of six consecutive meetings surrounding the turn of the millennium. Catholic won the first five of the six, before Franklin & Marshall got its second win of the series in 2002. That season, F&M put up a 13-6 win.
The Cardinals own the series only shutout, a 39-0 drubbing on Sponaugle-Williamson in 2000. That was the largest margin of victory in the series. The season prior, Catholic posted the most points by a team in the series in a 46-12 win. The 58 combined points also marked the highest scoring game. The teams average a combined 40 points per game in their clashes.
the last meeting
Keith Ricca’s 63-yard touchdown pass to Miles Sabrick was the difference as Catholic defeated Franklin & Marshall 14-7. Sabrick’s 63-yard catch and run through several Diplomat (1-1) defenders gave the Cardinals (2-0) the lead for good early in the fourth quarter.
Ricca completed 13 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cardinals to the win. He hit Andrew Buis four times for 27 yards and Sabrick three times. Sabrick’s only gain of the day was the touchdown.
catholic last week
Shenandoah quarterback Vern Lunsford threw a touchdown and ran for another in a 21-3 victory over Catholic University at Cardinal Stadium. The Hornets rushed for 213 yards on the CUA defense. Lunsford, who finished 9-of-19 for 97 yards, hit Rico Wallace for a 26-yard TD in the second quarter and then ran in untouched on a 9-yard naked bootleg with 7:57 to go in the third to give the Hornets (1-0) a 14-3 lead.
Making his first start, Cards’ sophomore Dylan Knight, gained a team-high 60 yards rushing. He guided CUA’s only scoring drive, resulting in a 27-yard field goal by Brendan Deluca on the Cardinals’ opening possession. Alonzo Cooke caught six passes for 52 yards and returned three kickoffs for 106 yards. CUA’s Rich Barry rushed 12 times for 53 yards and freshman linebacker Marc McEvoy produced a team-high 12 tackles.
f&m last week
John Harrison (Flourtown, Pa. / La Salle College HS) rolled up 295 passing yards and found George Eager (Lititz, Pa. / Manheim Twp.) for three touchdowns to lead Franklin & Marshall (1-0) to a 29-27 win at Washington & Lee (0-1). F&M secured its first back-to-back wins over the Generals in a half century.
With the win on Saturday, Franklin & Marshall improved to 44-72-5 in its first road game of the season.
diplomats first home game
The first home game of the season has traditionally been kind to Franklin & Marshall. The Diplomats are 86-34-1 in their first game played in Lancaster. 53 of Franklin & Marshall’s home openers have resulted in shutouts with F&M holding a 36-17 edge in those games.
The earliest home opener came in 2001 when F&M handed Oberlin a 26-14 loss on September 1. The latest season opener came in the 1918 season when Franklin & Marshall hosted Albright. That game was played on November 23rd with F&M taking a 25-7 win. F&M opened the 2003 season on September 6 with a 30-6 victory against Oberlin.
The biggest blowout was a 70-0 win over Swarthmore in 1974. The
1913 squad hung a 69-0 loss on the crew of the U.S.S. Constitution
in the first game on the Williamson gridiron. In 1917, F&M
suffered its worst loss in a home opener - a 63-0 drubbing by the
Carlisle Indians. All three of those games were also season
Freshman, Sam Massaro (Old Tappan, N.J. / Northern Valley Old Tappan), was named the Centennial Conference’s Defensive Player of the Week in the wake of his performance in the Diplomats’ 29-27 win over Washington & Lee. The inside linebacker recorded eight tackles and picked off a pass that he returned 30 yards in his collegiate debut. His efforts led a defense that limited the Generals to just 229 yards of total offense and did not allow a drive longer than 45 yards until W&L’s final possession. The defensive player of the week honor is F&M’s first since inside backer, James Gregory ‘09 took the title following last year’s October 11 win over Ursinus.
Wide receiver George Eager and punter Brian Prater (Baldwin, Md. / St. Paul’s School), were named to the Centennial Weekly Honor Roll. Eager caught 13 passes for 104 yards and three of F&M’s four touchdowns. Prater punted three times for 122 yards (40.7 ypp) with a long of 45. He dropped one punt inside of the W&L 20.
John Harrison reset Kyle Turner’s school mark for completions in a game (34) with 35, moving him in to 15th place on the career chart with 168 connections. At one point in the first half, Harrison was 23-of-25. The sophomore slinger needs three more completions to catch Larry Shadek on the career chart. Harrison’s 74.5 completion percentage (35-of-47) at W&L is tops amongst F&M quarterbacks with a minimum of 11 or more pass attempts in a game.
let the eager soar
George Eager became the first Diplomat to score twice in one game by the same means since the 2007 season finale when Ryan Murray rushed into the zone five times. He is also the first Diplomat to catch three touchdown passes in a game since he did it back on September 22, 2007 at Juniata. Eager is the 13th player to catch three touchdown passes in a game, tying F&M’s record for TD receptions.
bent, not broken
Kudos to the Diplomats’ defense that came up huge in short-yardage situations last Saturday. Not only did F&M hold on a late two-point conversion that would have brought about overtime, but the Diplomats stood tall on fourth and inches deep in their own territory on the prior possession to help secure the win.
Ty Savastio (Downingtown, Pa. / Downingtown East) recorded his second career interception in the win. His first came in last year’s season opener against W&L. Savastio had six solo tackles in the game and broke up a pass that was destined to score in the second quarter. Three additional Diplomats picked off passes: Jeffrey Liberatore (Lafayette, Pa. / La Salle College HS), Barry Lovett (Brooklyn, N.Y. / Poly Prep), and Sam Massaro. Liberatore had six tackles, five solo, in the game.
centennial poll position
Franklin & Marshall was picked for a sixth place finish in the nine team Centennial Conference. The Diplomats amassed 63 points in the poll of the league’s head coaches and Sports Information Directors. F&M was 18 points ahead of Ursinus and 12 points behind Gettysburg. Johns Hopkins, with 115 points and 10 first place votes, beat out Dickinson and Muhlenberg with 102 points apiece.
Seniors, George Eager, Barry Lovett (Brooklyn, N.Y. / Poly Prep), Ryan Murray (Sebastian, Fla. / St. Edward’s) and junior, Mark Surma (Philadelphia / Central) lead the 122nd edition of the Diplomats into battle this season.
A solid sign that F&M’s program is turning the corner on its way back to solid footing is last year’s All-Centennial Conference selection. Eight Diplomats were tabbed for the mythical 11, matching the total of All-Centennial choices through the first two years of the Troxell era. Of those eight choices, only three return to the F&M lineup in 2008: George Eager KR-1st/WR-2nd, Jeff Kellar (State College, Pa. / State College) – DB-2nd, and Barry Lovett CB-1st.
Eager entered the season’s final week as the third ranked kick returner in the nation averaging over 32 yards per kick return. In conference play, he averaged 27.0 yards on 18 kickoff returns, and went 85-yards for a touchdown against Dickinson. Eager’s presence forced teams to kick away, and often out of bands in the latter half of the season. As a receiver, Eager caught F&M’s two longest touchdowns of the season, scoring from 67 and 65 yards. He was named to the second team for the second time in as many seasons. His five receiving touchdowns ranked third amongst the league’s top receivers during league play. Overall, Eager caught 51 passes for 637 yards and six touchdowns.
Kellar made his first All-Centennial appearance following a season in which he posted 55 tackles (39 solo) – good enough for third on the team. He picked off three passes, returning one 51 yards for a touchdown - the second touchdown return of his career. He also broke up four passes. Kellar is the only F&M all-conference selection to also have earned a place on the Centennial’s Academic Honor Roll.
Lovett, who rarely saw balls thrown in his direction, intercepted a pair of passes and broke up four more in 2008. The physical corner is also a force in stopping the run, piling up 36 tackles, including five behind the line of scrimmage. He forced and recovered a fumble as well.
An unscientific poll of viewers participating in the Centennial Conference’s inaugural online media day overwhelmingly selected F&M cornerback, Barry Lovett as the preseason frontrunner for Centennial Defensive Player of the Year. Lovett captured 49 percent of the vote. Colin Wixted, a Johns Hopkins linebacker, was second in the voting with 19 percent.
Last year, John Harrison became Franklin & Marshall’s first freshman to accept the season’s first snap since Rob Shepardson in 1979. The 2007 Maxwell Award recipient threw for 1,328 yards - the fourth best season by a freshman on record in the Centennial Conference. His 14 touchdown passes ties the freshman record in the league with Gettysburg’s current signal caller, Matt Flynn. Harrison’s 14 touchdown passes and 133 completions both rank ninth on F&M’s the single-season list.
F&M has four backs that will see time in the season opener. Ryan Murray (Sebastian, Fla. / St. Edward’s School) is a punishing physical runner when moving north and south, while Alan Williams (Benton, Ky. / Marshall County) is a prototypical scat back that can line up anywhere on the field. John Kaschak is a hybrid of the two combining power and quickness.
Kaschak emerged as the feature back in 2008, carrying the workload in the season’s early going with success. He toted pigskin 119 times through the first four games averaging 96.25 yards per contest. Alone in the backfield while Murray and Williams were injured, the freshman was nicked up by midseason. Murray ended his 2007 season with one of the top rushing performances on record at F&M, but struggled to regain that form after a leg injury in camp. He still managed 3.4 yards per carry on the season, and broke out for 74 yards on 10 carries in the season finale at Gettysburg. Williams’ season was marred by a severe arm injury suffered in the first half of the season-opener. He showed flashes of brilliance upon his return, particularly when provided with space to work. In four games he recorded at least one reception of 10 or more yards, mostly coming after the catch and broke off several long runs. Freshman, Jacob Kelly (San Diego, Calif. / The Bishop’s School), has earned some touches as well. A back built like Williams, Kelly was the team MVP on a 12-0 squad that won the San Diego section his junior year.
The Diplomats face another ODAC opponent in Catholic University. It will be F&M’s home opener. The game will mark the last time F&M will play two non-conference opponents in the regular season as Susquehanna is set to join the Centennial as an associate member for football in 2010.
trox on the record
On the offense: “Overall, we were productive. We need to eliminate mistakes and be a little more consistent - left too many points on the field.”
On the Defense: “The defense played very well considering 82 of the 229 yard came on the last drive. It was a hot day, and with a lack of depth they held up well. The fourth down stop and two-point conversion stop showed that they will play with a relentless effort.”
On Harrison: “John is a hard worker. He prepares well, knows where to go with the ball and throws on time.”
On Massaro: “Sam played extremely hard and is going to be a good player in this conference. He made a few mistakes and made a lot of plays.”