LANCASTER, Pa. — Franklin & Marshall defeated Gettysburg 51-21 to win a share of the Centennial Conference (CC) Championship for the first time since 2004. The Championship is the 14th in program history as the Diplomats became one of just eight teams to finish with nine wins or more in school history. F&M improved to 9-1, 8-1 CC while the Bullets fell to 3-7, 3-6 CC.
The Diplomats tied Johns Hopkins for the championship, but the Blue Jays will receive the CC automatic berth to the NCAA because of their victory over F&M earlier this season. F&M still has a chance for an at-large bid, but if they do not advance to the tournament, the Diplomats would host Widener at Shadek Stadium on Saturday in the CC-MAC Bowl. Details will be available Monday morning at GoDiplomats.com.
Eleven seniors played their final regular season home game at Shadek Stadium. The F&M football class of 2017 has put together a 27-13 record over four years with two playoff berths. The class includes: Dillon Alderfer, Zachary Bradley, Taylor Collison, Pietro Gaspari, A.J. Gasser, Taalib Gerald, Jeff Leone, Vincent Moffett, Ben Okun, Fortunato Perri, Michael Sullivan.
It was all F&M in the first half as the Diplomats scored 24 unanswered in the opening quarter and tacked on seven more in the second for a 31-0 lead at the break. Tanner Erisman started the scoring with a 7-yard run early in the first before finding Dillon Alderfer on a 52-yard pass to put F&M up 14-0 with 8:28 left to play. Drew Tomlinson's 29-yard field goal made 17-0 and Taalib Gerald raced in from six yards out for a 24-0 lead the end of the first.
The scoring slowed down in the second, but F&M went ahead 31-0 on a 3-yard pass from Erisman to K.J. Pretty at 6:22 in the second. Neither was able to score the remainder of the second with the score staying at 31-0 at the break.
Gerald dove in from a yard out at 6:51 in the third for a 38-0 F&M advantage. The touchdown was Gerald's 29th of this career and reset the F&M mark held by Keith Wert '78. Gettysburg answered with back-to-back scores to make it 38-14 heading in the final frame.
Pretty hauled in a 37-yard pass from Erisman early in the fourth for a touchdown and Gerald put F&M's final points on the board with a 6-yard run at 10:53 in the fourth which gave F&M a 51-14 advantage. The Bullets managed one more score late in the quarter for the final 51-21 score.
Taalib Gerald finished with 139 yards on 32 carries and three scores and Tanner Erisman completed 19-of-34 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns. K.J. Pretty was the leading receiver with 162 yards on 10 grabs and two touchdowns and Dillon Alderfer hauled in six balls for 100 yards and a score.
Joe Granahan and Vincent Moffett paced the defense with six tackles each. Granahan had a sack and forced a fumble while Moffett added a tackle for a loss and a pass break up. Jeff Leone had five stops and four pass breakups and Ben Okun along with Dillon Alderfer each had four solo stops.