READING, Pa. – An Albright touchdown with 3:34 left in the fourth quarter delivered the host Lions a tight 28-23 victory over Franklin & Marshall on Saturday afternoon in the Centennial-MAC Bowl. The loss moved the Diplomats' record to 7-4 after the final game of the season, while Albright improved to 8-3 with the win.
The Lions drove 88 yards over 3:56, finished off by an eight-yard touchdown run from Roemello Monroe to take the late five-point lead. F&M marched down the field and looked threatening in the final seconds, but five plays in the red zone came up empty as Albright escaped with the victory.
The first 13 points of the game went to F&M, started by a one-yard Tanner Erisman run with 3:52 left in the first. Erisman and Zachary Bradley combined for 61 passing yards on the drive as the Diplomats took a 6-0 lead after a failed two-point conversion attempt.
Erisman added a second rushing touchdown midway through the second, this time finding paydirt from 10 yards out after F&M's second 68-yard scoring drive of the day. Bradley's 33-yard pass to Bobby Keyes on third and five from the Diplomat 37 keyed the F&M drive, giving the visitors a 13-0 lead after Billy Zwicharowski's successful point-after attempt with 5:25 left in the second.
The Lions struck back with 1:00 left in the half, with Mike Knight finding Vinny Williams for a 38-yard touchdown reception to make the score 13-7 at halftime.
Albright fully erased the deficit with 8:12 left in the third, when Monroe's 1-yard rumble capped off a 7-play, 81-yard drive to give the hosts a 14-13 advantage.
The Diplomats wasted little time regaining the lead, using a 16-yard rush from Taalib Gerald and 29 yards on a connection between Erisman and Keyes for a drive that covered 73 yards and 3:59 of game clock. Zwicharowski split the uprights from 19 yards, and F&M went up 16-14 with 4:13 left in the third.
Knight quickly returned the Lions to the lead with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Dickerson to make the score 22-16 with 1:03 left in the third.
Dave Shellhammer carried F&M back to a 23-22 lead, rushing for 45 yards as the Diplomats used 10 plays and 4:45 to cover 70 yards. The senior finished off the drive with a 17-yard rush into the end zone, and Zwicharowski's kick gave the Diplomats a one-point edge with 7:36 left.
Erisman went 14-for-20 for 185 yards through the air, and added 94 yards rushing to lead the offense. Bradley was an efficient 5-for-5 with 68 yards.
Shellhammer finished with 65 yards on 12 carries, while Gerald notched 43 on 14 attempts. Keyes led the receiving corps with 98 yards on six catches, followed by Andrew DeStefano with 48 on three.