Game 11 - Centennial-MAC Bowl Series Week
Franklin & Marshall at Misericordia
Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019 | 1:00 p.m.
Series Record: First Meeting
Streak: First Meeting
First Meeting: N/A
Last F&M Victory: N/A
Last Misericordia Victory: N/A
This is the first meeting between the two sides. The two teams do have cross-over opponents, which F&M holds a slight edge. The Diplomats defeated Lebanon Valley and McDaniel this past season, while the Cougars lost to McDaniel in their opener and defeated Lebanon Valley two weeks later.
The Last Meeting
First meeting between the two teams.
This is the fourth consecutive season the Diplomats have qualified for the Bowl Series, where F&M holds a 2-1 record in postseason play. Last year's bowl game saw the Diplomats escape with a 21-20 victory over Lycoming.
F&M's Last Game
Franklin & Marshall scored the first 41 points of the game, en route to a 55-7 victory over Gettysburg in Centennial Conference (CC) football action Saturday afternoon. F&M improved to 6-4, 5-4 CC, while the Bullets fell to 1-9, 1-8 CC.
The Diplomats put up three touchdowns on their final three drives of the first quarter on the back of Garrett Perschy. The junior quarterback ran for a 25-yard touchdown, then tossed passes of 59 and 34 yards to Drew Benfatti for a 20-0 edge. Perschy threw his third touchdown of the day in the second quarter to a surprising receiver - offensive lineman Brian Denoncour.
Keshon Farmer tacked on a 27-yard trip to paydirt immediately after the half for a 34-0 lead, then senior QB Jack Donaghy tacked on a 23-yard scramble of his own for a 41-0 lead. Senior RB Eric Harris took one in from 15 yards out in the 4th, and Kevonte Beard blocked, scooped, and scored for the final 55-7 advantage.
Garrett Perschy had 237 net yards (190 passing, 47 rushing) and four scores (three passing, one rushing) to lead the Diplomats. Jack Donaghy completed all three of his pass attempts for one yard, and rushed for 23 yards and a touchdown.
Drew Benfatti scored touchdowns on both of his receptions for 93 yards. Brendan Dearing had three catches for 67 yards, and added a 30-yard kickoff return. Brian Denoncour scored from four yards out for his first career score. Kevin Lammers recorded three catches for 26 yards, and picked up another 61 on five punt returns.
Joe Hartley-Vittoria racked up 116 yards on 16 carries. Keshon Farmer ran it 15 times for 108 yards and his 12th touchdown of the year. The touchdown tied Farmer with Kenneth Davis (1952), Keith Wert (1976), Mark Hidlay (1989), and E.J. Schneider (2013) for most rushing touchdowns in a season in F&M history. Eric Harris picked up 27 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
Kevonte Beard led the Diplomats' defense with six tackles (5s, 1a), four tackles for loss, two sacks, and a touchdown on a blocked punt. Calvin Krippner also had six tackles (2s, 4a) and a tackle for loss. Marlen Fenstermacher pitched in with five tackles (3s, 2a) and a pass breakup. K.J. Boston recorded four tackles (3s, 1a) and F&M's lone interception. James Gilmartin and Kevin Gault each picked up two tackles, with each recording a sack.
Scouting the Cougars
Misericordia is about as middle of the road as it gets in the Middle Atlantic Conference. Out of 11 teams, the Cougars' 6-4 record ranked fourth in the MAC standings with a 5-4 conference record, fifth in total offense (387.9 ypg), sixth in scoring offense (28.8 ppg), sixth in scoring defense (28.4 ppg), and sixth in total defense (405.4 ypg).
The Cougar offense is mainly predicated on the ground game, where Michael Gawlik is their primary weapon. The sophomore running back has scored nine touchdowns in his last six games, including four trips to paydirt in Misericordia's final game of the regular season against Alvernia. If the Diplomats can take an early lead, the Cougars have shown that they will abandon the run, as Gawlik has had 10 or less touches in five of their nine games.
Brady Williams is another bright spot on the offense, tossing 16 touchdowns through the air, while rushing for another seven. Williams is coming off of a career performance against Alvernia, which saw him complete 15-of-19 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing 15 times for 82 yards and a touchdown. His primary targets are the wideout pairing of Sam Gillison and Isaiah Williams, who have gone for 927 yards and 661 yards, respectively.
The Cougar defense is led by junior linebacker Tavion Rogers, who racked up 62 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss during the season. Misericordia's secondary has racked up a ton of work, as the next three leading tacklers do their work off the line of scrimmage. The lack of pass rush should bode well for F&M, as only two Cougars have more than 2.5 sacks on the season.
Eight Diplomats earned 2019 All-Centennial Conference honors.
Brian Denoncour, Kevin Gault, and Kevin Lammers all placed on the All-CC First Team, Keshon Farmer, Seb Silva-Muniz, and Marlen Fenstermacher landed on the All-CC Second Team, and Phillip Weiser ended his career with Honorable Mention recognition. Kevonte Beard garnered Rookie of the Year honors after an impressive first year in Lancaster.
Keshon Farmer's 2019 season continues to rewrite the F&M record book after running for 108 yards and a score against Gettysburg last weekend. His 12th rushing touchdown of the season tied the all-time Diplomat record, putting him in company with Kenneth Davis (1952), Keith Wert (1976), Mark Hidlay (1989) and E.J. Schneider (2013). Farmer's 22 career touchdowns now ranks third all-time in Diplomat history - just eight touchdowns shy of the record with only two seasons under his belt.
Into The Record Book
The 333 rushing yards from the Diplomats last week against Gettysburg was good for the second highest total in program history, sitting behind a 444 yard effort against Moravian in 1976. This 2019 squad now has two entries in the top ten, including their 283 yards against Juniata back in September.
The game featured some of the most yardage gained by the Diplomats in team history, dating back to a game against Juniata on September 16, 2017. The Diplomats' 7.6 average gain per play ranks fourth in team history, 524 yards of total offense ranks sixth, and their 654 all-purpose yards ranks tied for sixth - all the best since their matchup against the Eagles two years ago.
The eight touchdowns against Gettysburg rank tied for third in team history, right alongside another 2017 effort against Dickinson.
Running Over The Competition
The Diplomats have a chance at cracking the top-five in a number of rushing categories with a solid effort against Misericordia this weekend. The team's 1858 rushing yards currently rank seventh in team history, just 52 yards shy of sixth and 84 yards short of fifth.
The 26 rushing touchdowns are tied for third in F&M history with the 1977 squad, just one behind the 1976 team. F&M's 4.4 yards per rush rank sixth, right behind the 1960 team who averaged 4.5 yards per carry.
Brian Denoncour's four-yard touchdown reception was a special one. Sure, it was his first career touchdown. But a touchdown from an offensive lineman? Even more special.
It's the first receiving touchdown from a Diplomat not in a QB/WR/RB position since the 2007 season, when linebacker Lewie Briggs hauled in a four-yard toss.