LANCASTER, Pa. - John Harrison tied a school record with five touchdown passes, leading Franklin & Marshall to a 42-21 win over Catholic on Saturday. The Diplomats' (2-0) sophomore completed 24-of-32 passes for 369 yards in the win over the Cardinals (0-2).
Harrison's fifth touchdown pass - a perfect strike 17-yard to tight end Mike Deutch down the middle of the field - tied Wally Witmer's school record for touchdown completions in a game. Witmer tossed five against Johns Hopkins on September 29, 1951. Harrison joins Witmer and Ryan Murray as the only Diplomats responsible for five touchdowns in a single game.
The 369 yards marks a career high for the Diplomats' signal caller. It also marks the first 300-yard passing game of his 12-game-old career. After connecting for three scores in the season opener, Harrison and hooked up for two touchdowns this week, including the first of the game. Facing fourth and inches on the Catholic 11, Harrsion faked the handoff and hit Eager uncovered in the flat. Eager won the footrace to the pylon to give F&M an early 7-0 lead.
The second connection came in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Harrison rolled to his right and found Eager in stride beyond the secondary for an easy 43-yard score. The pair hooked up again for the two-point conversion that capped the decisive 15-point swing in less than six minutes around the half.
The Cardinals appeared poised to take a 14-13 lead into the half when Alonzo Cooke got beyond the F&M secondary for a 42-yard touchdown with 41 seconds left in the second quarter. Cooke had seven catches for 127 yards. Set up by Eager's 36-yard return on the ensuing kickoff, Harrison marched the Diplomats 54 yards on three plays, the third a 31-yard pass to running back John Kaschak for a touchdown with nine ticks in the half.
The play seemingly broke the Cardinals' backs. After Eager's score, the Diplomats punched in twice more for a 22-point third quarter that included Deutch's touchdown grab. Kaschak got the Diplomats' lone score over land 3:08 after Deutch's score. A 21-yard screen to Alan Williams set up Kaschak's plunge. Williams scored untouched on a screen in the first quarter to give F&M a 13-0 lead.
Harrison hit seven different receivers in the victory, none more than Jay Ridinger who had six receptions for 94 yards. Deutch had five catches for 61 yards while Eager and Kaschak each hauled in a pair for 85 and 65-yards respectively.
Harrsion's primary counterpart, Matt Cantafio, threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns on a 20-of-35 afternoon. He threw one of Catholic's two interceptions. Barry Lovett nabbed a pass tipped by Matt DiMattia setting F&M up for the scoring drive ended by Kaschak's run. Ty Savastio intercepted a Dylan Knight pass in the first quarter to set up the Williams' touchdown. Lovett and Savastio each broke up a pair of passes. Knight, who split action with Cantafio, was 3-of-6 with 20 yards.
Starting in place of the injured Shane Gray, Drew Hutcheon led all F&M tacklers with eight stops and a pass breakup. Seven of his stops were solo tackles. Lovett and Kurt Rogers each had five stops apiece. Catholic's Joe Mayer led all tacklers with nine stops. He forced two fumbles and recovered one of his own strips.
With the win, F&M improves to 2-0 for the first time since the 8-3 2004 campaign. F&M will look to make it 3-0 next week when Dickinson rolls into town for the Conestoga Wagon Trophy clash. Kickoff at Sponaugle-Williamson is set for 1:00 p.m.