LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall defeated Muhlenberg 17-14 in the final football game at Sponaugle-Williamson Field on Saturday afternoon in Centennial Conference (CC) action. F&M improved to 5-0, 4-0 CC while the Mules fell to 3-2, 3-1 CC.
The win puts the final record for the program on Sponaugle-Williamson at 370-197-23 and marks the 27th seasons F&M was undefeated on the field.
The Diplomats move across Harrisburg Pike to the newly-minted, state-of-the-art, Shadek Stadium to close out the year. The inaugural game occurs Homecoming weekend when the Diplomats face Dickinson on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 1:30 p.m. Stay tuned to GoDiplomats.com for more information about that game.
The game was a defensive battle from the start as both teams exchanged possessions early in the contest. On F&M's second possession of the first quarter, the Diplomats put together a 5-play, 41-yard drive that took 6:45 off the clock. The drive was set up by a Vincent Moffett interception that he returned to the Muhlenberg 41 and capped off when Tanner Erisman found K.J. Pretty for a two-yard score to make it 7-0.
F&M went up 10-0 on its first series of the second quarter. The Diplomats picked on a 3rd-and-15 to keep the drive going and converted on a 4th-and-5 on the 10 to continue the series. F&M scored two plays later, but the touchdown was nullified because of an illegal procedure penalty and F&M settled for a 21-yard field goal by Drew Tomlinson to capped off the 19-play, 80-yard and gave F&M a 10-0 lead at the break.
The Diplomats struck early in the third and scored on their opening series. F&M drove 65 yards on seven plays and took a 17-0 lead when Erisman and Pretty hooked up again on a two-yard pass with 11:31 left in the third.
Muhlenberg countered with 14 unanswered points to close out the third to make it 17-14 heading into the final frame.
The fourth was a battle of field position and neither team was able to put any points on the board. F&M looked to pick up a 3rd-and-1 to close out the game, but the ball was marked short and the Diplomats were forced to punt the ball with 22 seconds left. The Mules made it to their own 36, but attempted to lateral the ball on their next play and fumbled, and Moffett recovered the ball to secure the win for F&M.
Tanner Erisman completed 26-of-39 passes for 252 yards and two scores and had another 32 yards on the ground. K.J. Pretty led all receivers with 104 yards on 11 grabs and two scores and Dillion Alderfer had 65 yards on five catches.
Garret Perschy averaged 34.6 yards per punt with three inside the 20, Drew Tomlinson hit a 21-yard field goal and averaged 61 yards on four kickoffs, while Harley Wedholm connected on two extra points for F&M.
Vincent Moffett paced the defense with 12 tackles (5s), recovered a fumble and had an interception return for 21 yards. Ben Okun had 13 stops (8s) and two pass breakups, while K.J. Boston and Bobby McDevitt finished with eight and six tackles respectively.
F&M returns to action on Saturday when the Diplomats travel to Baltimore to take on Johns Hopkins at 1:00 p.m.