BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Senior quarterback John Harrison threw his second touchdown pass of the game in the fourth quarter just after a blocked punt to lead the Franklin & Marshall College football team to a 14-7 Centennial Conference win over host Moravian College Saturday at Rocco Calvo Field.
The Diplomats improve to 3-4 overall and 3-3 in conference action while the Greyhounds, who were celebrating their annual Homecoming, fall to 1-6 on the year and 1-5 in Centennial Conference contests.
Harrison hit junior fullback Peter Gumas with a four-yard touchdown pass with 9:51 remaining in the contest to break a 7-7 tie and sophomore Chris DeStefano added the extra-point to put the Diplomats up 14-7. On the play before the touchdown, F&M sophomore Lou Carothers came through and blocked a punt by Moravian junior Tyler Thompson, and Carothers covered the ball at the Moravian four-yard line.
Franklin & Marshall opened the game with a three-and out after receiving the opening kickoff while Moravian would pick up a first down on its first drive of the game on a 14-yard run by sophomore quarterback Robbie Moyer. However, the Greyhounds eventually punted from their own 40-yard line.
The Diplomats started their first scoring drive of the game at their own 32-yard line. They moved to the Moravian 49-yard line before facing a fourth-and-five. Sophomore quarterback/punter E.J. Schneider lined up to punt but instead threw a 12 yard pass to freshman wide receiver Paul McGann for a first down to keep the drive alive. Harrison eventually capped the 16-play, 68-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown pass to McGann in the back of the end zone. DeStafano's kick would put F&M up 7-0 with just 20 seconds to play in the first quarter.
Franklin & Marshall would get the ball right back when sophomore linebacker Brendan Wengerter intercepted a Moyer pass that bounced off of junior running back C.J. Billera's knee and into the air. However, the Diplomats were unable to move the ball and punted on the third play of the second quarter.
Moravian started from its own 21-yard line, and picked up a first down on a nine-yard pass from Moyer to junior wide receiver Rocco Del Pirore. Three plays later, Moyer found sophomore wide receiver Vince Reed with another first down pass, this one for 21 yards, and Moyer would pick up another first down on a ten-yard run. Billera would score on the next play for the Greyhounds with a 28-yard touchdown run up the middle. Senior kicker Ian Heck would add the extra-point to tie the game at 7-7 with 9:01 left before halftime.
The teams traded punts until Moravian took over at its own 14-yard line with 4:04 to go in the second quarter. Junior running back Joe Tegan had a first down rushing before Moyer connected on an 18-yard pass with Reed to move the ball to midfield. Moyer gained 17 yards on a designed rush and moved the ball down to the F&M 30-yard line but the Greyhounds ended up punting with 31 seconds left in the half.
The Diplomats would run out the clock with a pair of kneel downs by Harrison despite Thompson's punt being downed at the two-yard line by Greyhound junior defensive back Travis King.
Moravian received the opening kickoff of the second half and gained first downs on a 13-yard run by Tegan and a six yard pass from Moyer to senior tight end Mike Zanoni to move to the F&M 40-yard line. However, two plays later Tegan was hit by Diplomat junior linebacker Mike Shin and fumbled. F&M senior defensive back Ty Savastio covered the ball at the F&M 41-yard line.
The Diplomats were unable to capitalize on the turnover and punted after three plays. Moravian went the wrong way on its next drive and ended up punting out of its own end zone after three plays.
F&M took over at the Moravian 32-yard line, and the Diplomats picked up first downs on a three-yard run by senior running back John Kaschak and a 14-yard pass from Schneider to senior wide receiver Kevin O'Shea to put the ball on the Moravian four-yard line. Two plays later, F&M freshman running back Lamont Jackson was hit by Greyhound senior linebacker Stephen Kircher just before crossing the goal line, and Jackson fumbled into the end zone. King would cover the ball for Moravian for a touchback.
Each team punted on its next two possessions before Moravian started a drive at its own 15-yard line with 10:51 left in the game. On fourth down of that drive, Thompson's punt would be blocked by Carothers setting up the winning score.
After the Diplomats went ahead, Moravian started to move the ball again. Moyer hit junior wide receiver Ryan Onuscho with a 13-yard pass for a first down before Thompson ran for five yards and a first down on a fake punt. Moyer then connected on a 25-yard pass to Billera to move the ball to the F&M 30-yard line but Moravian's drive would stall, and the Greyhounds turned the ball over on downs with 5:16 remaining.
F&M had three-and-out drive sandwiched around one for Moravian. The Greyhounds started at their own 40-yard line with 1:20 left in the game, and Moyer would gain 11 yards on a second down rush to get into F&M territory. However, Moyer's next pass sailed high and was intercepted by Diplomats' freshman defensive back Brian Velasco to end the Moravian drive.
The Greyhounds had a 242 to 173 advantage in total yards in the game and a 15-7 edge in first downs while F&M held the time of possession at 31:13 including nearly 12 minutes in the first quarter.
Moyer completed 11 of 26 passes for 11 yards but was intercepted twice and sacked four times. He also finished with 55 yards on 13 carries while Tegan had 47 yards on 17 attempts. Billera finished with 41 yards and a touchdown on eight carries while Reed caught five passes for 43 yards. Zanoni pulled in two passes for ten yards.
Harrison was eight for 11 for 37 yards with two touchdowns while Schneider completed five-of-nine passes for 32 yards. Schneider also had 39 yards on six carries while Kaschak led the F&M rushing attack with 46 yards on 21 attempts, and he caught four passes for 21 yards. Jackson had 11 yards on five carries while McGann caught seven passes for 41 yards and a touchdown.
Junior linebacker Jake Hildebrand led the Moravian defense with ten tackles while Kicher added nine stops with his forced fumble. Senior linebacker Douglas DiMattia and senior defensive end Allen Petros each had seven tackles for the Greyhounds with Petros adding two and a half tackles for loss to raise his school record total to 58 career tackles for loss. Petros also had a half a sack to raise his career mark to 25.5, just a half a sack from tying for second in school history. Senior defensive lineman Seth Payne made six tackles while senior defensive back D.J. Wacker had five stops.
Wengerter led the F&M defense with ten tackles to go with his interception and one and a half tackles for loss. Shin added nine stops with a forced fumble, two and a half tackles for loss and a half a sack while junior defensive lineman Kenny Provost had eight stops with two sacks. Senior defensive lineman C.T. Marsh and sophomore linebacker Nick Barbieri each had seven tackles with Marsh adding two tackles for loss and a half a sack for the Diplomats.