By Jimmy McCumber
In a crazy first minute of the fourth quarter, the Albright College football team erased a 14-point deficit in 14 seconds and went on to win the 2012 ECAC South-East Bowl, 38-34 over Franklin & Marshall.
After F&M punched it in for a 28-14 lead on the opening play of the fourth quarter, junior Daniel McNair
took the ensuing kickoff back 88 yards for the touchdown.
then fumbled Albright's kickoff on his own four-yard line, where it was recovered by Sean Cunningham
on the one. Ty Hughes
carried it in on the next play, giving the Lions two touchdowns in 14 seconds (and a combined three touchdowns for the two squads in a 28-second span).
The action was far from over, as F&M's Paul McGann
got behind the Lion defense on the next play from scrimmage but was stripped by Drew Peterson
. Cunningham came up with the ball for his second fumble recovery in a span of 18 seconds.
Albright quarterback TJ Luddy
completed a tough third down pass to Caleb Shilko
to the four-yard line, and then snuck it in with 8:33 left to put the Lions ahead 35-28.
made an open field tackle on a cutback run and Chris Stephens
broke up a third-down pass as the Lion defense stood firm. With three minutes remaining Nick Gjoni
batted down a pass and then Ryan Ott
broke up a fourth-down attempt on the hosts' final realistic chance to get back in the game.
capped things off with a field goal, before the Diplomats added a garbage time touchdown in the final seconds.
McNair earned Game MVP honors with six catches for 89 yards and a TD, to go with his kick return touchdown. Luddy completed 15-of-23 passes for 243 yards and a score, while fullback Marty Reinhardt
totaled 34 yards and a touchdown on six carries in his final collegiate game.
Luddy had McNair deep on Albright's first drive of the game, but just barely overthrew him. Luddy then had to make a tackle after his punt was nearly broken by returner Jordan Zachary
. The Diplomats soon scored the opening touchdown on a pass to Frank Strumholo.
On Albright's second drive, Shilko had a big third down pickup for 19 yards and a first down. Scott Pillar
then went over the top for 42 yards, but couldn't quite tiptoe the sideline to finish it off.
Two plays later, the Diplomats' Mike Shin
jumped Luddy's route for an interception, with the quarterback making his second tackle of the game to save a sure touchdown. It only took one play for Franklin & Marshall to grab a 14-0 lead, with McGann taking a pass over the top and shrugging off a tackle to reach the end zone.
-and-1 from the F&M 15, Reinhardt plowed right up the middle, bouncing off at least three tackles and staying upright to reach the end zone, pulling the Lions to within a touchdown at 14-7.
Albright blitzed on the next drive and Zachary just barely got his fingertips on a ball over the top of Matthew Hnatiuk
, holding on for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
The Lions faced 3-and-19 but McNair caught Luddy's pass off the hand of a Diplomat defender and took it for 37 yards into enemy territory. On 3rd-and-21, Luddy found Shilko close enough to the sticks that the Lions could go for it. Shilko then ran an in-route to pick up the first.
Luddy made it 21-14 with a pass over the top to McNair, who completed a diving catch in the back of the end zone. F&M broke the ensuing kickoff down to the Albright 30, but Magosin was held at the beginning of the run, negating the play.
In the third quarter the Diplomats drove down to the Albright 25 and went for it on fourth down, with Hnatiuk intercepting the pass to end the threat. Albright later moved the ball down to the Diplomat 11, where the Red and White faced 4th-and-4 late in the third quarter. After a timeout the Lions attempted a field goal, but it went wide right to keep the score at 21-14.
Albright concludes its 2012 campaign with a record of 8-3, winning its sixth ECAC championship and first since 2008. The victory also marked head coach John Marzka
's fourth career postseason win.