Diplomats Come Back to Down Bullets; Lock up Bowl Spot

Diplomats Come Back to Down Bullets; Lock up Bowl Spot

GETTYSBURG, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall scored 14 unanswered in the fourth quarter to turn a seven-point deficit into a 28-21 victory over Gettysburg in Centennial Conference (CC) football action Saturday afternoon. The win delivers F&M the Lincoln Trophy for the first time since its inception in 2014, and gives the Diplomats a spot in CC-MAC Bowl next weekend. 

Gettysburg jumped out to an early 7-0 lead when Charles Clewis broke off a 77-yard run midway through the opening frame, but F&M answered toward the end of the quarter. The Diplomats took over on their own 38 and drove 62 yards in nine plays for a six-yard score from Taalib Gerald to tie the game at 7-7.

The Bullets answered on their next drive with a 36-yard field goal to go up 10-7 and tacked on two more with five minutes left in the quarter after a high snap from F&M sailed into the end zone for a safety and a 12-7 Gettysburg edge at the break.

F&M went out front with under five minutes in the third, 14-12, when Tanner Erisman found Andrew DeStefano on a four-yard strike to finish off a three-play, 25-yard drive set up by a 60-yard punt return by Kevin Lammers. Gettysburg countered with 10 straight points and took a 21-14 lead into the final nine minutes of the game.

The Diplomats responded with 14 unanswered points to close out the quarter and secure the victory. F&M's first score came early in the fourth when Erisman dove in from a yard out to complete a 10-play, 60-yard drive. The drive was kept alive when Erisman picked up nine yards on a crucial third-and-nine.

Gettysburg started their next series on their own 23, but two plays into the drive, Jon Naji sacked Danny Thompson and forced a fumble that Joe Granahan jumped on to put the Diplomats on Gettysburg's 21-yardline.

Dave Shellhammer picked up 11 yards on two rushes to put F&M on the 10 and three plays later, Erisman found K.J. Pretty on a three-yard pass for the game-winning touchdown.

Zachary Bradley completed 10-of-17 passes for 101 yards and Erisman tossed for 62 yards on eight completions. Erisman added another 96 yards on 21 rushes with one score and Shellhammer racked up 56 yards on 15 touches. Gerald finished the day with 12 runs for 32 yards and a score.

Dillon Alderfer led the receivers with 57 yards on four catches and Bobby Keyes hauled in five passes for 45 yards. Billy Zwicharowski converted all four extra points attempts and Cody Hubbs averaged 30 yards on five punts with one inside the twenty.

Brendan Daly and Steve Elf both picked up seven tackles to pace the defense. Elf was in on a sack with Luke Foukas while Naji recorded six stops, including a sack and a forced fumble. Jeff Leone also had six tackles and added three pass breakups for the Diplomats. Marlen Fenstermacher ended with five tackles and Ben Okun picked up four stops.

F&M will have to wait until Sunday evening's NCAA selection show to see if Muhlenberg receives an at-large bid. If the Mules go to the NCAA Tournament, F&M will host Delaware Valley in the CC-MAC Bowl. If the Mules are not selected, the Diplomats will travel to Albright next Saturday.