Franklin & Marshall vs. No. 7 Muhlenberg
Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 | 1:00 p.m.
Series Record: F&M 55-46-1
In Lancaster: F&M 28-18-1
Streak: Muhlenberg +1
First Meeting: Oct. 4, 1902 (F&M 69-0)
Last F&M Victory: 17-14, Sept. 30, 2017 - Lancaster, Pa.
Last Muhlenberg Victory: 42-21, Sept. 29, 2018 - Allentown, Pa.
Franklin & Marshall's third-longest rival comes to town on Saturday, entertaining the 103rd matchup between the Diplomats and the Mules. F&M touts a 55-46-1 record against Muhlenberg, in a series that has spanned every decade since the turn of the 20th century.
Almost every decade has been dominated by one team - F&M took the 1900's, 30's, 50's, 70's, 80's; Muhlenberg took the 10's, 20's, 40's, and 60's. Since 1995, all has been even between the two squads, with each side winning 12 games apiece, including the past six seasons that have seen every team win in alternating fashion.
The Last Meeting
Muhlenberg defeated No. 23 Franklin & Marshall 42-21, taking a 21-7 lead into halftime and never looking back.
F&M closed the gap to 28-14 with 7:09 left in the third, but Muhlenberg answered with back-to-back touchdowns in a three-minute span and took a 42-14 edge into the fourth. The Diplomats tacked on seven more late in the fourth when Jack Donaghy found Zachary Bross on 16-yard pass for the 42-21 final.
Tanner Erisman completed 17-of-24 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns and threw four interceptions on the afternoon. Joe Hartley-Vittoria had 37 yards on 11 rushes and Eric Harris picked up 35 yards on five carries. Timothy Walter led all receivers with 76 yards on five catches, K.J. Pretty had four receptions for 68 yards with a touchdown and Kevin Lammers ended with 54 yards on three grabs and a score.
Marlen Fenstermacher, Sebastian Silva-Muniz and Joe Granahan all ended with six tackles. Bobby McDevitt and Dom Bertone each had five tackles and Frank McGlinchey finished with four stops, including one for a loss.
F&M's Last Game
F&M fell to Susquehanna 42-13 in Centennial Conference football action Saturday afternoon. The loss was the first for F&M this season as the Diplomats dropped to 3-1, 2-1 CC, while the River Hawks improved to 3-1, 2-1 CC.
Joe Hartley-Vittoria racked up 60 yards on 15 carries with one score, while Eric Harris picked up 33 on 10 rushes. Jack Donaghy had 46 yards on five completions with a score and Grant Gale hauled in two passes for 17 yards and a touchdown.
Scouting the Mules
Coming off of a trip to the national quarterfinals in 2018, the 4-0 Mules show no signs of slowing down in their 2019 campaign. They have drubbed TCNJ, Dickinson, and Juniata by a combined 125-40 margin, and snuck past Susquehanna 24-17 in overtime for a perfect record. They currently rank No. 7 in the nation in the AFCA DIII poll and No. 8 in the D3football.com poll.
Their 42-5 victory over Juniata last week showcased a balanced 430-yard offensive attack, putting up 230 yards through the air and another 200 on the ground, while their defense stymied the Eagles to only 73 yards in the second half to close out the victory.
On the defensive side, F&M needs to focus in on the passing attack, as Muhlenberg signal-caller Michael Hnatkowsky currently ranks first in the Conference in completion percentage (66%), passing efficiency (164.3), passing touchdowns (11). On the defensive end, the Diplomats need to account for first team All-American DE Frankie Feaster who ranks 17th in the nation with 5.5 sacks and 47th in tackles for loss (7.5).
Joe Hartley-Vittoria Hits Paydirt
With his rushing touchdown against Susquehanna last Saturday, Joe Hartley-Vittoria has now scored exactly one rushing touchdown in eight consecutive games, dating back to October 27th of last year. In fact, Hartley-Vittoria has scored a single rushing touchdown in 12 of his last 14 games.
The original four-game stretch last season was the first since Frank Strumolo ran for six touchdowns in the final four games of the 2013 season.
Harley-Vittoria's four rushing touchdowns are good for second in the Centennial Conference, right behind teammate Keshon Farmer's five. Add in his receiving touchdown, and he ranks tied for first with Farmer for total touchdowns in the CC.
The F&M offense is among the national leaders in time of possession, keeping the ball in their offense's hands for 34:16 per game, good for 17th in the nation and first in the Centennial Conference. They fall just shy of the national leader Redlands, who controls the clock for 37:34 of their games.
Part of the Diplomats' ability to stay on the field is their fourth-down conversion rate, where F&M is five of six in the young season. This ranks 12th nationally, and first in the Centennial.