SELINSGROVE, Pa. – For the second time in as many weeks, Franklin & Marshall found itself in an early hole. For the second time in as many weeks, the Diplomats dug out of the hole for a Centennial Conference (CC) win. After falling behind Susquehanna (1-4, 1-4 CC) 17-5, the Diplomats (4-1, 3-1 CC) outscored their hosts 36-3 for a 41-20 win.
Susquehanna jumped out in front on its opening possession when Bobby Eppleman booted a 44-yard field goal. For the second week in a row, F&M's first play from scrimmage put the ball in the opposing team's hands. John Harrison hit Michael Deutch for eight yards, but Trevor Tarpening stripped the Diplomats' tight end, setting Susquehanna up on the F&M 37. A pass interference and two completions by Rich Palazzi gave the Crusdaers a quaick 10-0 lead.
F&M got a solid return from Jonathan Struss, setting up what looked like a sure F&M touchdown. Harrison had Jarrell Diggs beyond the Susquehanna secondary, but he didn't spot him until late, allowing Teighler Doak to come across the field for an interception on the two yard line. The Diplomats' still salvaged points from the situation. C.T. Marsh recorded back-to-back tackles for loss, the second coming in the Crusaders' end zone.
The Diplomats drove again on the next possession, which was capped by Chris DeStefano's 28-yard field goal making it 10-5, Susquehanna, but Palazzi picked his way down the field, finding Spencer Cox for a five-yard score early in the second quarter.
It was all F&M from there.
The Diplomats settled the wild start with an 11-play, 68-yard drive capped by John Kaschak's up-and-over plunge from a yard out. Harrison hit Jay Ridinger for the two-point conversion to make it 17-13. The Diplomats' defense held before that pair conspired again. Harrison hit Ridinger in stride down the right sideline. The senior slipped a Susquehanna tackler, reversed field and outraced three Crusaders to the left pylon giving F&M a 19-17 lead that stood up until the half.
Ridinger managed six catches on the afternoon with 114 yards. It was the third time in the last four games he has gone over 100-yards. Harrison completed 19 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns. His third touchdown pass of the day, a 23-yard strike to Jarrell Diggs, was also the completion that made Harrison F&M's career leader in passing yards. He had 5,660 yards at the end of the day, moving just ahead of the record previously owned by Bill Meekings '93. Diggs recorded three receptions for 46 yards. He scored twice with both touchdowns coming in the third quarter.
Susquehanna briefly held the lead before Diggs went to work. Eppleman kicked a 26-yard field goal to make it 20-19. That ended the Crusaders' day of scoring. F&M answered with an 11-play, 65-yard drive highlighted by an acrobatic Deutch grab on fourth and five to set up Diggs' first touchdown. Two incomplete passes after the Deutch catch, Diggs rolled up the right sideline allowing Harrison to take advantage of the corner, turned in man coverage, for the score.
Sam Massaro put his stamp on the win ending three of Susquehanna's next four drives on his own. The sophomore picked off the Crusaders' quarterbacks three times, tying the F&M record for interceptions in a game. The first set up Harrison's 23-yard toss touchdown to Diggs.
Massaro took care of scoring on his own with the second pick, rumbling over 30-yards of open field for the second interception touchdown return of his career. His third pick sealed Susquehanna's fate and tied him with Dan Howley, who picked three against three against Carnegie Mellon in 1972, and Joe Cavallo, who hawked three from Johns Hopkins in 1987. Massaro also recorded a team-high nine tackles in the win. Cornerback, Kurt Rogers and linebacker, Nick Barbieri each recorded seven stops, while Marsh extended his sack streak to four games.
Palazzi, who started the day with a hot hand, finished up 14-of-26 for 138 yards and two touchdowns. He threw two interceptions to Massaro before yielding the field to Matt Lottes.
With the win, the Diplomats head into the off week with a record of 4-1. Susquehanna falls to 1-4 (1-4 CC). F&M returns to action in two weeks at Moravian, the second of three-straight on the road.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
Franklin & Marshall 5 14 15 7 41 Record: (4-1,3-1)
Susquehanna Univ. 10 7 3 0 20 Record: (1-4,1-4)
1st 12:59 SUS Bobby Eppleman 44 yd field goal, 5-41 2:01, F&M 0 - SUS 3
11:46 SUS Connor McGrath 15 yd pass from Rich Palazzi (Bobby Eppleman kick), 3-37 0:48, F&M 0 - SUS 10
09:45 F&M TEAM safety, , F&M 2 - SUS 10
04:34 F&M Chris DeStefano 28 yd field goal, 12-57 5:11, F&M 5 - SUS 10
2nd 12:47 SUS Spencer Cox 5 yd pass from Rich Palazzi (Bobby Eppleman kick), 11-69 6:47, F&M 5 - SUS 17
03:44 F&M John Kaschak 1 yd run (Jay Ridinger pass from John Harrison), 16-80 9:03, F&M 13 - SUS 17
01:12 F&M Jay Ridinger 68 yd pass from John Harrison (Chris DeStefano kick failed), 1-68 0:17, F&M 19 - SUS 17
3rd 10:47 SUS Bobby Eppleman 26 yd field goal, 8-35 2:28, F&M 19 - SUS 20
06:56 F&M Jarrell Diggs 14 yd pass from John Harrison (Brian Kelly pass from John Harrison), 11-65 3:51, F&M 27 - SUS 20
00:17 F&M Jarrell Diggs 23 yd pass from John Harrison (Chris DeStefano kick), 4-53 2:00, F&M 34 - SUS 20
4th 11:17 F&M Sam Massaro 30 yd interception return (Chris DeStefano kick), , F&M 41 - SUS 20
FIRST DOWNS 19 17
RUSHES-YARDS (NET) 35-80 29-105
PASSING YDS (NET) 296 160
Passes Att-Comp-Int 30-19-1 35-16-3
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS 65-376 64-265
Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards 2-19 1-9
Kickoff Returns-Yards 6-148 6-102
Interception Returns-Yards 3-40 1-0
Punts (Number-Avg) 3-31.7 4-35.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 5-55 3-26
Possession Time 35:51 24:09
Third-Down Conversions 9 of 15 4 of 14
Fourth-Down Conversions 2 of 3 2 of 4
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 3-3 3-3
Sacks By: Number-Yards 3-22 2-5
RUSHING: Franklin & Marshall-Alan Williams 10-35; John Kaschak 13-33; Jacob Kelly 5-12; Jarrell Diggs 1-3; John Harrison 3-1; TEAM 3-minus 4. Susquehanna Univ.-Greg Tellish 19-90; Connor McGrath 3-21; Rich Palazzi 3-1; Matt Lottes 4-minus 7.
PASSING: Franklin & Marshall-John Harrison 19-29-1-296; Jarrell Diggs 0-1-0-0. Susquehanna Univ.-Rich Palazzi 14-26-2-138; Matt Lottes 2-9-1-22.
RECEIVING: Franklin & Marshall-Jay Ridinger 6-114; Michael Deutch 4-66; John Kaschak 4-57; Jarrell Diggs 3-46; Alan Williams 1-9; Colton Weaver 1-4. Susquehanna Univ.-Connor McGrath 5-54; Matt Knouse 3-32; Spencer Cox 3-17; Spenser Ercole 2-39; Alex Terpening 2-12; Justin Stover 1-6.
INTERCEPTIONS: Franklin & Marshall-Sam Massaro 3-40. Susquehanna Univ.-Teighler Doak 1-0.
FUMBLES: Franklin & Marshall-Michael Deutch 1-1. Susquehanna Univ.-None.
SACKS (UA-A): Franklin & Marshall-John Gandolfo 1-0; C.T. Marsh 1-0; Jordan Studevan 1-0. Susquehanna Univ.-Bill Mancini 1-0; Aaron Inch 1-0.
TACKLES (UA-A): Franklin & Marshall-Sam Massaro 5-4; Nick Barbieri 5-2; Kurt Rogers 5-2; Scott Williams 4-1; Donald Wiezik 4-1; C.T. Marsh 3-2; Jonathan Struss 2-2; John Gandolfo 1-3; Kenny Provost 1-2; Drew Hutcheon 1-2; Phil Barbieri 2-0; Jordan Studevan 1-1; Dylan Jagiello 1-1; Shane Gray 0-2; Ty Savastio 1-0; Michael Deutch 1-0; Brian Low 0-1. Susquehanna Univ.-Mitch Phillips 7-6; Aaron Inch 4-7; Will Dyson 6-2; Ken Schetroma 4-3; Teighler Doak 1-5; Stephen Homan 3-2; T. Terpening 1-4; Tim Pierce 3-1; Andy White 0-4; Bill Mancini 1-2; Tyler Grosser 0-3; Braden Klingler 0-3; Greg Tellish 1-1; Justin Stover 0-2; Alex Terpening 1-0; Spenser Ercole 1-0; Jim Cavanaugh 1-0; Jack McCarty 0-1.