LANCASTER, Pa. – Ursinus outscored Franklin & Marshall 27-7 in the final 32 minutes of action and connected on a field goal with one second left to defeat the Diplomats 27-24 in Centennial Conference (CC) action Saturday afternoon at Shadek Stadium. The Diplomats dropped to 6-3, 5-3 CC, while the Bears improved to 6-3, 5-3 CC.
Before the game, 17 seniors were honored as they played their final regular season game at Shadek Stadium. The football class of 2018 includes: Connor Bannon, Justin Brown, Vincent Ciavardelli, Tanner Erisman, Stevie Gerovasilis, Joe Granahan, Thomas Hourican, Dylan Jones, Brendan Kilkenny, John Limato, Brandon Lowe, Bobby McDevitt, K.J. Pretty, Tyler Schubert, Stephon Smith, Vincent Speranza, Harrison Wirth.
F&M looked to take control early with a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter. Drew Tomlinson put the first points on the board with a 26-yard field goal midway through the first quarter. A Marlen Fenstermacher interception gave the Diplomats the ball on their own 29, and K.J. Pretty hauled in an 11-yard pass from Tanner Erisman to cap off a 9-play, 71-yard drive that put the Diplomats up 10-0 with 2:30 left in the first.
The Diplomats defense stepped up again on the Bears next possession when Thomas Downs picked off Thomas Garlick and returned the ball 21 yards to give F&M the ball on the Ursinus 47. Six plays later, Joe Hartley-Vittoria found paydirt from three yards out to make it 17-0 with 12:37 left in the second.
Both teams traded possessions and Ursinus kicked off their scoring spurt with a 13-yard score that finished a 5-play, 73-yard drive at the end of second to make it 17-7 at the break.
The teams traded possessions the majority of the third quarter, with the Bears tacking on three points midway through the frame to come within seven, 17-10, heading in the final quarter.
Ursinus started out the fourth with 14 straight and took a 24-17 lead with 8:04 on the clock. F&M answered on its next possession with 7-play, 62-yard drive. The drive featured a 4th-and-13 pick up by the Diplomats down inside the 26 and on the next play, Erisman found Timothy Walter for a 6-yard score and Tomlinson's point after tied the game at 24-24.
The Bears took over on their own 25 with 1:11 on the clock and drove down to the F&M 21 in six plays, before the F&M's defense forced two incomplete passes, that set up Kirk Cherneskie game-winning 38-yard field goal.
Joe Hartley-Vittoria racked up 115 yards on 33 carries with one score, while Tanner Erisman completed 17-of-28 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns. K.J. Pretty hauled in eight catches for 104 yards and one touchdown and Timothy Walter hauled in five catches for 60 yards and one touchdown.
Drew Tomlinson was 3-for-3 in extra points, hit a 26-yard field goal and had a 55.8 kickoff average on five kicks with two touchbacks.
Marlen Fenstermacher had seven tackles to pace the defense with an interception, Bobby McDevitt ended with six stops, including 2.5 for a loss and a sack, while Sebastian Silva-Muniz, Thomas Downs and Joe Granahan all ended with five stops each. Downs had two pass break ups and a pick and Stephon Smith added three pass break ups with three stops.
The Diplomats return to action on Saturday when F&M travels to Gettysburg for the regular season finale at 1:00 p.m.