LANCASTER, PA - Franklin & Marshall College quarterbacks Jeff Harner (So., Mohrsville, PA/Schuylkill Valley) and Doug Hiltner (Sr., Margate, NJ/Atlantic City) combined with tailback Scott Stephen (Sr., Glen Rock, NJ/Glen Rock) to complete 17-of-32 passing attempts for 243 yards as each tossed a touchdown as the Franklin & Marshall College (3-0, 0-0 Centennial Conference) football team defeated Hobart College (1-1, 0-0 Liberty League) 35-14 in NCAA Division III action.
At tailback, Stephen rushed for 58 yards, pulled in a 49-yard touchdown pass from Harner, returned two punts for 10 yards and completed an 11-yard TD pass to Derek Boyce (Jr., Lancaster, PA/Lampeter-Strasburg) to factor in nearly a third of his team's scoring as he upped his single season touchdown total to six touchdowns as he is averaging 12 points per game.
For his career, he has rushed for 1,695 yards with 10 touchdowns, caught 33 passes for 324 yards with six touchdowns and has completed 25-of-76 passing attempts for 299 yards with four touchdowns.
At quarterback, Harner completed seven-of-14 attempts, including a 49-yard strike to Stephen, for 149 yards with two interceptions while rotating a QB with Hiltner who completed nine-of-17 attempts for 89 yards with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Boyce.
Overall, the Diplomats dominated the Statesmen across the board leading in first downs (18-to-13), net yards passing (243-to-122), total net yards (304-to-231), average gain per play (4.2-to-3.3), penalties (one for 20 yards-to-seven for 65 yards), punting average (48.8-to-31.2), interceptions (two for 31 yards-to-two for seven yards), third down conversions (nine-of-18-to-five-of-18), fourth down conversions (2/2-to-0/2) and sacks (four-to-two).
Trailing 7-0 with 10:40 left in the first quarter as Hobart quarterback Shawn Mizro hit Dan Suozzi for a 17 yard touchdown to cap a four play, 31 yard drive following a fumble by Stephen at the F&M 31 on the Diplomats first snap, F&M fired back with a six play, 74 yard scoring drive.
Starting at their own 26 yard line, Franklin & Marshall moved to mid-field as Stephen rushed for 12 yards and Harner hit wide receiver Chris Wagner (Fr., Media, PA/Penncrest) for eight yards to move the ball to the F&M 46 yard line. Stephen rushed five yards before being stopped at the line of scrimmage to bring up second-and-10 from the Hobart 49 as Harner hit Stephen for a 49-yard scoring strike to knot the game at seven all with 2:07 left in the quarter.
With 26 seconds left in the first quarter the Diplomats got the ball back at the Hobart 30-yard line following a 12-yard punt into the wind by Suozzi. Starting deep in Hobart territory, Harner rushed two yards to the Hobart 28 and a late hit moved the ball to the Statesmen 13-yard line after the 15-yard personal foul walk off. Stephen rushed four yards to the Hobart nine-yard lien as the quarter expired. In the second quarter, the Diplomats continued their march as Harner hit Boyce for a six-yard completion down to the three yard line. Stephen rushed for no gain and for three yards on back-to-back carries to bring up third and goal as Harner found a seam and dove into the endzone to cap a six play, 30 yard drive for a 14-7 lead.
Hobart tied the score on their next possession as Mizro found Chris Whipple with a five yard touchdown pass to finish a 12 play, 70 yard drive with 7:17 left in the first half.
Franklin & Marshall answered on their next possession as Hiltner took over at quarterback for Harner and led a 17 play, 80 yard drive capped by a an 11-yard halfback option pass by Stephen to Boyce on fourth-and-one at the Hobart 11 yard line for the winning points with 55 seconds left in the half.
The Statesmen attempted to respond as Mizro led a five play drive from the 50-yard line to the F&M 16 yard line, but Eric Ampuja's 34 yard field goal attempt sailed wide right with no time left on the clock to close out the half.
In the third quarter, Hobart threatened as the Statesmen drove to the F&M 37 before an incomplete pass and a sack for loss of six yards by defensive lineman Chris White (Sr., Vestal, NY/Vestal) ended the drive and forced a 43 yard punt for a touchback.
Franklin & Marshall attempted to tack another score on the board following Hobart's failed drive as Harner returned at quarterback and led an eight play, 54 yard drive which ended when the Statesmen's James Alexander picked off a potential touchdown pass in the endzone for a touchback.
However, Hobart did not hold the ball for long as Mizro attempted to rush to the HC 28, but was stripped and defensive back Tim Barry (Jr., Madison, NJ/Madison) recovered the fumble at the Hobart 28 to set up another F&M scoring chance.
Again the Hobart defense held as F&M advanced to the Statesmen's 18 yard line courtesy a 10-yard holding penalty but Hiltner could not connect with his receivers on four straight attempts before Eggertsson's 35 yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.
This time the F&M defense held holding the Statesmen to five total yards before forcing a 45-yard punt to the F&M 32-yard line.
The Diplomats attempted to move the ball down the field, but Harner's fumble on second-and-13 at the F&M 43 gave Hobart back the ball in solid field position to tie the game.
Hobart could not convert on the opportunity as the team went four-and-out, as Mizro's fourth-and-three pass to Suozzi was one yard short of the first down.
Following a three-and-punt situation by F&M in which punter/placekicker Dan Eggertsson (Sr., Royal Palm, FL/Suncoast) placed the ball at the Hobart seven yard line, the Diplomats received a break as Mizro's third-and-five attempt from his own 23 yard line was picked off by Ryan Carrozza (So., Cherry Hill, NJ/Bishop Eustace) who returned the ball from the F&M 40 to the Hobart 41. However, an illegal use of the hands call and a personal foul by the Diplomats moved the ball back to the F&M 39.
Franklin & Marshall could not take advantage of the opportunity as Eggertsson punted to the Hobart eight-yard line before Suozzi returned the kick back to the Hobart 23. Mizro hit Colby Feane for no gain, Ty Godinho rushed for six yards to the 29 and a pass attempt to Suozzi was incomplete to bring up fourth down. On fourth-and-four, Mizro completed a pass to Feane as the Hobart 32, but he fumbled the reception back to the Hobart 22 where Josh Van Auken fell on the ball to turn it over on downs.
The Diplomats took advantage of the field position as Hiltner found Boyce in the endzone for a 22-yard touchdown connection on third-and-10 for a 28-14 lead with 4:11 remaining on the clock.
The team put the game away following the kickoff as Hobart started at their own 14-yard line. On first down, Mizro was sacked for a loss of nine yards by linebacker John Warnick (So., Rockville, MD/Good Counsel) and White back to the five-yard line before Jack Holleran rushed for two yard to the seven. Facing third-and-17 from the seven, Mizro attempted to thread a pass, but F&M defensive back Paul Fields (Fr., Bergenfield, NJ/Bergenfield) picked the pass off at the 12 yard line and raced into the endzone for a touchdown with 1:22 left on the game clock for the 35-14 final.
Overall, Boyce finished with four catches for 51 yards and two touchdowns, while fullback Rick Dunlap (So., Boothwyn, PA/Garnet Valley) caught five passes out the of backfield for 33 yards and rushed five times for 11 yards.
On defense, Warnick led the way tallying 14 tackles (four solo hits) with four tackles-for-loss of 18 yards and half a sack for nine yards. Defensive end Matt Capone (Sr., Scarsdale, NY/Scarsdale) added 13 tackles with one tackle-for-loss of three yards, while White added seven tackles with three hits-for-loss of 23 yards, including 2.5 sacks for 23 yards.
For Hobart, Godinho registered 20 carries for 97 yards as the Statesmen ran up 109 rushing yards on 44 carries. Mizro completed 16-of-27 attempts for 122 yards, including eight passes to Suozzi for 79 yards, with pairs of interceptions and touchdowns while being sacked four times.
Keys to the game were weather conditions and punting as the Diplomats had the wind at their back in the second and fourth quarters while amassing 28 of the team's 35 points. Further, Eggertsson averaged 49.2 yards per punt off four punts for 197 yards, including a 65-yarder. In addition, his only punt of the first half was partially blocked but still went 47 yards to pin the Statesmen deep in their own territory.
With the win, F&M improves to 3-0 on the year as it marks the first time a Franklin & Marshall College football team has opened the season with three straight victories since the 2002 team knocked off Oberlin (13-6 W), Catholic (13-6 W) and Ursinus (34-10 W) before losing at Muhlenberg (68-22 L) in the 1,000th game in program history.
Further, the team has scored 35 or more points in each of its games this season (35-7 W Bethany, 41-21 W Oberlin) to mark the first time an F&M team has broken the 30 point mark in three consecutive games since the 1996 team handled Hobart (38-24 W), McDaniel (38-7 W) and Swarthmore (35-7). The victory over Hobart in 1996 marked the only win over the Statesmen by an F&M football team in program history prior to this year's win as the Statesmen hold a 7-2 advantage in the nine-game history of the series between the two schools dating between 1996 and 2004.
In addition, the victory marks the Diplomats fifth straight dating back to a 37-17 win at Ursinus College on November 8, 2003 as the streak marks the first time F&M has strung together five consecutive victories since the team 1996 team won seven straight over Muhlenberg (53-0 W), Dickinson (14-12 W), Hobart (38-24 W), McDaniel (38-7 W), Swarthmore (35-7 W), Johns Hopkins (20-14 W) and Gettysburg (35-6 W) before falling to the United States Merchant Marine Academy (20-0 L) in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) South Championship game.
Franklin & Marshall (3-0, 0-0 Centennial Conference) will continue the season on September 25 at Carnegie Mellon University. Game time is set for 1:00 p.m.