LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall scored the final 12 points to upend McDaniel 43-41 in a battle of Centennial Conference (CC) unbeatens in football action on Saturday.
Perry Stefanelli (Rockville, Md./Good Counsel) led the Green Terror (2-1, 1-1 CC) with career highs of 167 yards and three touchdowns.
Tanner Erisman threw for 285 yards and five touchdowns for the Diplomats (3-0, 2-0 CC), who had allowed just 14 total points in the first two games before McDaniel was able to post 31 first-half points.
Trailing 41-31, Franklin & Marshall started at its own 27 with 2:12 to play in the third quarter. The Diplomats moved to the Green Terror 31 before converting a fourth-and-5 on the final play of the third quarter.
The 12-play drive ended with a 10-yard Dillon Alderfer touchdown catch. The PAT was blocked to keep it a 41-37 game with 13:47 showing.
Set up at the McDaniel 40 after a 19-yard Kevin Lammers punt return, Erisman hit Pretty at the left pylon for a touchdown for a 43-41 edge with 10:14 to play.
After a Joe Granahan interception on the first play from scrimmage, Franklin & Marshall needed just four plays to move 25 yards. Taalib Gerald found the end zone from five yards out for a 6-0 lead with 12:32 to play in the first quarter after the missed PAT.
On the next possession, Stefanelli ripped off a 28-yard run on the first play to set the Green Terror up at midfield. After the next three plays netted just six yards, Joey Cornwell (Rockville, Md./Rockville) took off 21 yards up the middle on a fake punt. A 17-yard catch by Bamasa Bailor (Carlisle, Pa./Carlisle Area), pass interference call in the end zone. Two plays later, Stefanelli found the right end for a touchdown. The PAT gave the visitors a 7-6 lead with 8:55 showing.
One play after the Diplomats recovered an onside kick, K.J. Petty caught a 46-yard touchdown down the right sideline for a 12-7 lead just nine seconds later.
A nine-yard touchdown grab by Lammers stretched the lead to 18-7 with 3:58 to play in the period.
Isaac Murray (Columbia, Md./Atholton), however, returned the ensuing kickoff 73 yards to set up the offense at the Diplomat 17. Four Stefanelli runs later, the Green Terror closed to within 18-14 with 2:00 on the clock.
Two plays into the next Franklin & Marshall drive, Tucker Evans (Lititz, Pa./Manheim Twp.) picked up a fumble and returned it 68 yards down the McDaniel sideline for a 21-18 lead with 1:24 to play in the opening quarter.
A Spencer Wiersberg (Salisbury, Md./J.M. Bennett) 35-yard field goal stretched the lead to 24-18 early in the second quarter.
Taking over with 1:30 to play in the first half, Stefanelli ripped off a 49-yard run down the near sideline before Will Koester (Purcellville, Va./Woodgrove) found Breon Herbert (Silver Spring, Md./Blake) across the back of the end zone to push the lead to 31-18 at the break.
Aided by a pair of penalties, the Diplomats moved the ball 70 yards over 12 plays. Erisman found Alderfer for a nine-yard touchdown pass to close the deficit to 31-24 with 9:10 to play in the third quarter.
A 33-yard Bailor catch and Stefanelli 37-yard rush helped the Green Terror respond and push the lead to 38-24 with 7:54 on the clock.
Brendan Dearing immediately responded, however, taking the ensuing kickoff 94 yards to cut the deficit to 38-31.
A Wiersberg 29-yard field goal to cap an 11-play drive pushed the lead to 10 with 2:23 on the third-quarter clock.
The offenses combined for 996 yards. For McDaniel, Koester threw for 248 yards. Bailor caught seven passes for a career-best 115 yards.
In addition to Evans' big return, Brenden Clinton (Laurel, Md./Laurel) had a pair of interceptions.
The Green Terror returns to action at home against Gettysburg on Saturday. Game time is 1 p.m.