LANCASTER, Pa. – The Franklin & Marshall football team moved above .500 with a 28-17 rivalry victory over Dickinson on Saturday to retain The Wagon Trophy. As in any rivalry game, there were certainly anxious moments as the Diplomats (4-3, 3-3 CC) were tied 14-all at the half despite the Red Devils (2-5, 2-4 CC) having just 47 yards of total offense after 30 minutes.
However, the Diplomats ultimately secured the victory with a touchdown during each of the four quarters, outpacing the hosts 14-3 during the second half. F&M's defense came up big with four sacks and three interceptions, flipping the turnover battle in its favor after the Red Devils used that to their advantage during the first half with an interception return and fumble recovery in the endzone for their only two touchdowns of the afternoon.
First Quarter (Franklin & Marshall 7, Dickinson 7)
The Diplomats found out early that they were in for a battle as the F&M defense forced a three-and-out, but the Red Devils countered with a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown on the Diplomats' second offensive play from scrimmage. Franklin & Marshall got that score back when Ty Tremba scored his first of two rushing touchdowns – in addition to one passing – from 14 yards out with 1:37 to play in the first quarter. Tremba finished the game with 74 yards rushing in addition to his 117 yards through the air.
Second Quarter (Franklin & Marshall 14, Dickinson 14)
The defenses were certainly winning the second quarter battles as neither offense crossed midfield for the majority of that period. A 65-yard Dickinson punt pinned F&M in a precarious position and just three players later the Red Devils got a strip sack in the end zone to go up 14-7. Franklin & Marshall answered that score on a 26-yard touchdown reception from Gary Lewis for the rookie's first career touchdown. That scoring drive went 65 yards as Tremba ran for an additional 40 yards, including a 31-yard carry preceding the touchdown.
Third Quarter (Franklin & Marshall 21, Dickinson 17)
Franklin & Marshall took is first lead of the game as Tremba led the team on another 65-yard drive out of the locker rooms. That time he completed three passes of eight-plus yards, with a 20 yard reception from Brady Aselton setting up the QB's one yard run to finish the drive. The Diplomats would not trail again as Dickinson's only points came on a 32-yard field goal with 2:40 remaining in the third quarter. Even on that drive, the Red Devil offense went just six yards on five plays after setting up the drive with a blocked punt.
Fourth Quarter (Franklin & Marshall 28, Dickinson 17)
Trailing just 21-17, the Red Devils got into Franklin & Marshall territory just once during the fourth quarter. Locking up the victory was F&M's Division III leading secondary that secured two more interceptions. The first of those interceptions was picked off by Matt Scully who returned it 43 yards for a touchdown. With the Red Devils facing the eventual 28-17 final as their deficit, they drove down to the F&M three before Matt Wertz picked off a pass in the end zone that left F&M able to run out the remaining time.
Key Performers & Stats
Franklin & Marshall outgained Dickinson 276-254 on afternoon thanks in large part to 159 yards on the ground while the Red Devils finished with just three. The F&M defense finished with nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage for a total loss of 42 yards. That included 1.5 sacks from Jeff Decker who also led the team with nine tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss overall. Kevonte Beard also had a sack in addition to seven tackles. Kell Hall match Beard for second on the team with seven tackles, breaking up another pass as all but one of his stops were solo efforts.
Tremba was the team's leading rusher at 18 carries for 76 yards despite being sacked three times. Aaron Rascoe and Mitch Wagner added 48 and 31 yards, respectively, to the team's rushing total. Wagner also led the team with three receptions, while the high yardage mark in the passing game went to Lewis who hauled in a pair of passes for 38 yards, including his first career touchdown. Reigning Centennial Conference Special Teams Player of the Week Laurence Miller was a perfect 4-for-4 on his PAT attempts.
Franklin & Marshall will now travel to Muhlenberg next Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff with the Mules who are currently receiving votes in the national polls. Muhlenberg is currently tied for third in the Centennial Conference standings, just one game ahead of the Diplomats who took a huge step towards at least matching last year's fifth place finish. Next week's matchup could loom large in the bowl picture as the second through fourth place teams are guaranteed one of the spots in the Centennial-MAC Bowl Series if they are not selected to the NCAA Tournament.