Rushing Attack leads F&M over Juniata

Rushing Attack leads F&M over Juniata

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Dave Shellhammer and Taalib Gerald combined for 289 rushing yards and five scores to lead Franklin & Marshall to a 45-22 victory over Juniata in Centennial Conference (CC) football action Saturday afternoon. The win is the second straight for F&M as the Diplomats improved to 3-1, 2-1 CC while the Eagles suffered their first loss of the season and fell to 3-1, 2-1 CC. 

After a fourth down hold by its defense early in the second quarter, F&M took over its own 33. Shellhammer carried the ball four times for 52 yards to start and put F&M on the Juniata 16-yardline. Three plays later, Gerald got the call and raced into the end zone from three yards out to give F&M a 7-0 edge.

The defense forced a three-and-out on the Eagles' next possession and F&M took over on their 22-yardline. Four plays into the series, Shellhammer broke off a 59-yard jaunt to the end zone for the Diplomats second score of the game.

Juniata answered on its next possession with a 14-play drive to come within seven, 14-7, with 3:39 left to until the break. F&M answered and tacked on three more with Cody Hubbs connected on a 32-yard field to make it 17-7 at halftime.

Jeff Leone recovered a fumble on Juniata's first drive of the third quarter, giving F&M the ball on their 30. Zach Bradley found Bobby Keyes for 40 yards on the first play of the drive and eight plays later, Gerald rushed in from four yards out for a 24-7 lead.

Juniata put seven on the board on their next series and F&M countered on its next possession with a 14-play, 65-yard drive that took 7:27 off the clock and spanned into the final frame. The drive featured an even dose of both running and passing and was kept alive by a key 27-yard pitch-and-catch between Bradley and Dillon Alderfer and fourth-and-seven. Shellhammer capped off the drive with a two-yard spurt to give F&M a 31-14 lead.

A 27-yard rushing touchdown by Gerald with a little over six minutes left to play put F&M up 38-14, before the Eagles made it 38-22 with a score later in the quarter. The Diplomats put their last points on the board when Joe Granahan fell on the ball in the end zone after a muffed snap.

Bradley completed 10-of-16 passes for 168 yards in his season debut. Keyes hauled in four pass for 107 yards and Alderfer finished with 33 yards on two grabs.

Shellhammer had a career-high 174 yards on 21 carries for an 8.3 average per touch. He scored twice and had a long run of 59 yards. Gerald added another 115 on the ground on 19 touches with three scores.

Cody Hubbs handled all the kicking duties for the Diplomats on Saturday. He went 6-for-6 in PATs and hit a 32-yard field goal. Hubbs also averaged 34.8 yards per punt and 52.3 yards per kickoff.

Luke Foukas paced the defense with six stops while Dylan Jones and Brendan Daly both ended with five tackles each. Ben Okun, Jeff Leone, Vincent Moffett, Steve Elf and Tyler Petri all finished the day with four tackles. Jones, Petri and Brendan Kilkenny all recorded a sack for the Diplomats.

F&M returns to action on Saturday when the Diplomats travel to Dickinson for the Wagon Trophy. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m.