For a football team that scored points relatively at will the first two weeks of the season, Franklin and Marshall found itself in a defensive struggle during the first half against McDaniel on Saturday.
However, things changed in the second half as the Diplomats got the offense rolling with ball control and time of possession.
Down four at the break, Franklin and Marshall scored on four straight second-half possessions and went on to top the Green Terror 34-17 in a Centennial Conference contest at Shadek Stadium’s Tom Gilburg Field.
“We talked to the kids about winning first and second down,” Diplomats coach John Troxell said. “We were behind the sticks, we had some penalties, things that moved us back. We just weren't playing crisp football.”
Having the ball for more than 20 minutes in the second half, including 12 minutes of the third quarter, the Diplomats wore down McDaniel.
Sophomore running back Keshon Farmer ran for 103 yards, all in the second half, helping F&M pile up 224 yards after the intermission.
“I like to be the spark plug on the team, get them going, get them rolling,” Farmer said. “But, it's not just me, it's the O-line. We get to rotate in, they don't. They are the workhorse through and through.”
The Dips got it going on their second possession of the third quarter with a nine-play, 45-yard drive, capped by Garrett Perschey's 10-yard scoring strike to Tim Walter, for a 13-10 lead.
A defensive three-and-out gave Franklin and Marshall the ball back and this time it was an eight-play, 56-yard march, concluded when Perschey hit Joe Hartley-Vittoria on a 3-yard swing pass.
Hartley-Vittoria ended the ensuing possession by taking a handoff up the middle for a 50-yard touchdown run.
Kevin Lammers' 20-yard punt return put the Diplomats in business and Farmer did the rest, rushing six consecutive times, including his 1-yard touchdown for a 34-10 lead.
“It's all about momentum,” Farmer said. “Get the engine rolling. We are the sparkplugs as the running backs, but the O-line is the engine. That (early score) pushed us forward. We always fall forward. That is a motto of ours. First downs first, we score points second. That's how we go.”
Hartley-Vittoria did his part, finishing with 98 yards on 11 carries.
“You look at the three backs we've got, they are dynamite,” Troxell said. “When you can play three kids like that and you get to the second half, it wears on the defense. You can play full speed and you can start gassing teams a little bit. It helps you control the clock and keep their defense on the field.”
With the win, Franklin and Marshall improved to 3-0 on the season, 2-0 in Centennial Conference play while McDaniel fell to 2-1, 1-1.
A pair of local players were much of the first-half scoring, which ended with the Green Terror leading 10-6.
Franklin and Marshall’s Jack Rodenberger, a Manheim Township grad, got things started with his 29-yard field goal.
Lampeter-Strasburg alum Peyton Denlinger, a sophomore at McDaniel, kicked an extra point after a Green Terror touchdown and added a 33-yard field goal, that gave the visitors a 10-3 lead with 3:27 left in the half.
However, Rodenberger nailed a field goal from 37 yards in the final minute of the second quarter, cutting the McDaniel lead to 10-6.
“We relied on Jack and came away with points when in years past we might not have had those,” Troxell said. “Our kicking game is pretty good right now.”