F&M leaves Hopkins behind in 27-22 win Late touchdown damages Blue Jays' title hopes

November 05, 1995|By Bill Tanton | Bill Tanton,SUN STAFF

Johns Hopkins was two minutes away from a win yesterday over Franklin and Marshall and a probable Centennial Conference title.

Then, Franklin and Marshall -- tied for first in the conference with Hopkins and Dickinson entering the day -- shocked the Homewood Field crowd of 2,411. Down by two points, Diplomats quarterback Beau Eckert completed six straight passes, driving his team to the Hopkins 1-yard line. Fullback Matt Eisenberg completed the 76-yard drive by slamming in with the winning touchdown with 17 seconds left.

What had looked as if it would be a two-point Hopkins victory wound up a 27-22 win for Franklin and Marshall. If the Diplomats (6-3, 5-1) win their finale against Gettysburg on Saturday, they will be conference champions.

Hopkins (6-3, 4-2), F&M and Dickinson entered yesterday's action with 4-1 records. A Blue Jays win yesterday and next week over Western Maryland would have given Hopkins the Centennial crown. But Dickinson's 7-7 tie yesterday with Gettysburg and Hopkins' loss clears the way for F&M to win it all.

"That's been the story of our team all year," said Franklin and Marshall coach Tim Gilburg, who is in his 21st year at F&M after having played for the Baltimore Colts in the '60s. "These kids have played hard and they've never given up.

"Last year we were 1-9. We didn't win a conference game, so this year we went from worst to first. The kids learned that they don't like losing."

Hopkins coach Jim Margraff blamed the loss on his team's inability to get a touchdown after three penetrations inside the 20-yard line in the first half.

All three times Todd Bencivenni kicked field goals (for 24, 22 and 29 yards) to give Hopkins a 9-0 lead.

"That ended up being the game, that we had to settle for those field goals," said Margraff. "We needed to get a touchdown."

Eckert threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Matt Sernatinger to put F&M on the board at 9-7, and the Diplomats took a 14-9 halftime lead after Rob Romano's 6-yard touchdown with 1:51 left.

Fullback Chuck Wotkowicz put Hopkins back on top at 15-14 with a 2-yard run in the third quarter. In the final period, the Jays' Hari Lymon ran 4 yards for a score and a 22-14 lead.

With 7:55 to play F&M's Don Linares went 7 yards for a touchdown and, after an incomplete pass on the two-point try, Hopkins held a 22-20 lead that looked as if it would stand up.

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