ANVILLE, Pa. -- Franklin & Marshall escaped with thrilling a 42-37 victory over Lebanon Valley in a back-and-forth affair Thursday evening to open the 2015 football season. The Diplomats improved to 1-0 while the Dutchmen dropped to 0-1.
Lebanon Valley took over on its own 11-yardline trailing by five with a little under four minutes remaining in the contest. The Dutchmen marched down the field, picking up six first downs along the way and faced a first-and-goal on the F&M six. With 48 seconds left, Brendan Irving raced along the right side and marched into the end zone, but the play was called back because of a holding call. Three plays later on and fourth-and-goal, LVC attempted a pass to the back corner, but Brendan Daly came over the top and broke up the throw to secure the win.
F&M took control early and jumped out to a 14-0 lead 10 minutes into the contest. Matt Magarity finished off a seven-play, 71-yard drive when he kept the ball on a read option and raced 19 yards to the end zone for the first score of the contest. On the Diplomats next possession Magarity connected with Andrew DeStefano on slant and DeStefano raced 29 yards down the sideline to put F&M up 14-0.
The Dutchmen struck late in the first, but missed the PAT before tacking another seven on the board with 8:05 left in the second to come within a point, 14-13. Taalib Gerald put the Diplomats up eight when he raced 27 yards off tackle to score with 3:16 left in the half. LVC countered with a nine-play, 60-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown with 1:22 on the clock in the first half to make it a 21-20 game at the break.
LVC took the lead on its first possession in the third quarter on a 51-yard pitch-and-catch from Tyler Cottle to Jeremy De La Cruz to put Dutchmen on top 27-21 for their first lead of the ballgame. The Diplomats answered on the ensuing drive to take a 28-27 lead when Bobby Keyes scored on an eight yard pass at 8:25. The Dutchmen took the lead again when LVC connected on a 26-yard field with 5:13 left in the third.
F&M countered with 14 unanswered points and went up 12, 42-30, early in the fourth quarter. Magarity found Andrew Heird for a 36-yard score and converted on a two-point conversion for a 36-30 edge. Gerald put the last points on the board for F&M when he scored on a five-yard screen at 11:32. LVC fought back and Irving took it in from 10-yards out to make it 42-37. The Diplomats punted after seven plays on their next possession, which set up LVC's final drive.
F&M racked up 501 yards offense went 3-for-3 in fourth-down conversions. Magarity led the way through the air with 212 yards on 16-for-24 passing and four touchdowns. Gerald racked up 152 yards on 28 touches and a score while Logan Lewis added another 57 on the ground.
DeStefano hauled in five passes for 125 yards and a score and Bobby Keyes finished with 58 yards on five catches.
Luke Foukas paced the defense with nine stops (7s) and Daly picked up seven solo stops and an interception. Tre Henderson had three stops, forced a fumble, picked off a ball and had two pass breaks for the Diplomats. Benjamin Okun recorded six stops while Dylan Jones, Vincent Moffett and Steve Elf all had four stops.
The Diplomats open Centennial Conference play next week when F&M welcome Muhlenberg for a 1:00 p.m. game.