Football Explodes for 26-7 win in Season Opener

Football Explodes for 26-7 win in Season Opener

LANCASTER, Pa. – The Franklin & Marshall football team scored three unanswered touchdowns during the second quarter of its season opener to defeat Lebanon Valley by a 26-7 score inside Shadek Stadium. The game – which was the first-ever night football at the Stadium – gave head coach Tom Blumenauer and his staff a win during their coaching debut and was capped off by an equally explosive postgame fireworks show in front of a packed home crowd.

Aaron Rascoe made his first career start and carried the ball 12 times for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns. First-year Jake Fant started at quarterback and threw his first touchdown pass to Isaiah Brown during that second quarter as well. He later scampered 87 yards to set up a field goal late in the fourth quarter to help ice the game. Fant's 87 yard run was the third-longest run in program history. It was also the longest run by a quarterback and was the longest run that did result in a touchdown in program history. He additionally threw for 152 yards on 10-of-19 passing during his collegiate debut.

First Quarter (Franklin & Marshall 0, Lebanon Valley 0)

The Diplomats defense came ready to play in the season opener and that was certainly evident from the start of the first quarter as the Dutchmen crossed into Franklin & Marshall territory just once, but were denied on a field goal attempt to keep the game scoreless. F&M's lone drive into LVC territory resulted in an interception to thwart that scoring attempt.

Second Quarter (Franklin & Marshall 20, Lebanon Valley 0)

Lebanon Valley was again threatening at the start of the second quarter, but its latest field goal attempt was blocked by Ryan McArthur. That turned the ball over for the first of F&M's three touchdowns during the second quarter. Jack Sutton caught passes of 28 and 35 yards on that drive to put the Diplomats into the red zone. Rascoe took the ensuing play 11 yards to pay dirt for the first touchdown of the year. The defense followed that up with back-to-back three-and-outs before F&M took over in Lebanon Valley territory. Fant got nearly all of the 41 yards need in one play as he found Brown for a 28-yard strike down the middle of the field to make the score 13-0.

One final three-and-out from the F&M defense got the Diplomats one last drive before the half. A huge 41 yard run from Rascoe paved the way for 24 and 13-yard receptions from Gary Lewis to put F&M back in the red zone. Rascoe took the next play down the one before finishing what he started with a one-yard plunge to set the score at 20-0 at the half.

Third Quarter (Franklin & Marshall 20, Lebanon Valley 7)

The only scoring in the third quarter came in favor of the Dutchmen as they used a 14 play, 89-yard drive to take up over half of the third quarter and keep the ball out of the hands of the Diplomats. A pass interference call in the end zone put the ball on the F&M two before Jacob Shermeyer finished off that drive. Nevertheless, F&M went nearly 43 minutes before allowing its first points of the season.

Fourth Quarter (Franklin & Marshall 26, Lebanon Valley 7)

The Lebanon Valley faithful and bench had thoughts of a comeback early in the fourth quarter, but Justin Gerhart picked off a pass in Diplomat territory to end that LVC drive. The Dutchmen took their next drive down the F&M five yard line after alternating interceptions, but a huge fourth down stop denied the Dutchmen from getting within a single score.

That stop set the stage for Fant's 87-yard scamper which took the ball from the F&M 12 all the way to the LVC one. The Diplomats were held out of the end zone on three straight plays, but Laurence Miller made it a worthwhile drive as he put the Diplomats up by 15 with just seven minutes remaining in regulation. On the ensuing LVC drive, it was Owen Walsh that came up with an interception that he returned to the LVC 12 yard line before Miller's 24 yard field goal put the home side up by three scores with under four minutes to play.

Key Contributors

Gary Lewis (4 rec., 53 yds.) and Isaiah Brown (4 rec., 40 yds.) were co-favorite targets of Fant, while Sutton hauled in a team-high 59 receiving yards on just two catches. Sutton also carried once for 28 yards to help pace the offense which racked up 321 yards.

The Dutchmen were limited to just 261 yards of total offense. Eight different Diplomats recorded at least five tackles during the victory. Nick Rios and Brian Lafty led the way with eight stops each. Lafty also had F&M's sack on the night as the Diplomats made eight stops in the LVC backfield. Matt Scully had seven tackles and two pass breakups, while Kevonte Beard, Owen Walsh, and Jeff Decker each came away with six tackles.

Season Opening Notables

With the victory, F&M is now 100-33-1 all-time during its home openers. The Diplomats are 56-15 all time, and have won 11 straight overall, when the open the season on their home field.

Up Next

With a win under its belt, Franklin & Marshall will now turn its attention to the Centennial Conference opener next Saturday, September 10 at Susquehanna (1 p.m.). That matchup will be a battle of last year's Centennial Conference-record five overtime thriller that ultimately fell to the River Hawks. Nevertheless, it will give the Diplomats another chance to avenge a loss from 2021 as the LVC victory on Friday served as payback for the season opener in Annville just one year ago.