By Rachael Cataldo, Staff Writer
The Susquehanna football team (2–2, 1–2) fell to the Franklin and Marshall Diplomats (4–0, 3–0) 27–24 on Saturday, Sept. 23 in Selinsgrove.
After trailing by ten points in the fourth quarter, the team was poised to have an exciting comeback after recovering an on-side kick, but the ball was quickly turned over, crushing the hopes to tie the game and as a result, handing the River Hawks their loss.
Late in the fourth quarter, senior wide receiver Diamente Holloway caught a 51-yard touch-down pass thrown by senior quarterback Nick Crusco to bring River Hawks within three points.
Crusco finished the game with a season-high 358 yards through the air.
On the ensuing kickoff, River Hawk sophomore wide receiver Mikah Christian received an on-side kick by freshman kicker Connor Lustenberger.
Following the play, Crusco was sacked and fumbled, which resulted in a tough loss at home for the River Hawks.
“The on-side kick from Connor was one of the best on-sides kicks I’ve ever seen, so all credit goes to him for that,” Christian said. “I was in the right place at the right time to catch the kick and give the team another chance to win.”
The River Hawks were the first to score just five minutes into the game with a 31-yard field goal by Lustenberger. The Diplomats scored late in the first quarter with a 32-yard pass to take a 7–3 lead.
Franklin and Marshall maintained the lead 10–3 early on in the second quarter as the Susquehanna defense came through in the red zone and forced a 25-yard field goal.
Sophomores stepped up as linebacker Cole Dixon and defensive lineman Caleb Cash led the defense with 11 and nine tackles respectively. Junior linebacker Connor Thompson added eight tackles, a sack, and a pass breakup.
“Overall, I would say our effort and pursuit to the ball was there; we just let up too many big plays, which hurt us in the end,” Dixon said. “One thing we’re looking to improve on is getting more turnovers and getting the ball back to the offense to let them score.”
The River Hawks tied it up at the half 10–10 when junior running back Luke Robertson rushed for a two-yard touch-down with 1:03 to go in the second quarter.
The Diplomats started the second half off with a big 57- yard pass on the second play of the third quarter pushing the lead to 17–10. They increased the lead to 20–10 with a field goal from the 31-yard line.
Crusco then ran for a two-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 20-17 with less than eight minutes left.
The Diplomats responded quickly with a 66-yard run by junior quarterback Tanner Erisman to advance their lead by 10 points with only around five minutes remaining.
The final effort by the River Hawks was the 51-yard touch-down pass to Holloway.
Three River Hawk football players were recognized as Players of the Week for their performances during Saturday’s game at the Quarterback Club Luncheon on Monday, Sept. 25.
Senior Tommy Bluj won the Offensive Player of the Week award. He had nine catches for 114 receiving yards against Franklin and Marshall.
Junior Noah Schairer was recognized as the Special Teams Player of the Week for his work on the kickoff coverage team.
The Defensive Player of the Week was senior Kyle Micik, who had eight tackles and three solo stops.
The River Hawks return to action on Saturday, Sept. 30 when they will host the Dickinson College Red Devils (1–3, 1–2) at 1 p.m.
Dickinson is currently coming off a 41-10 to nationally-ranked Johns Hopkins who the River Hawks nearly took down on the road.
The only win for the Red Devils this season against Gettysburg, where they came out on top 24-21.
Sophomore kicker Ethan Fusco knocked a 31-yard field goal through the uprights to give the Red Devils the win during homecoming.
Freshman quarterback Robert Geiss currently leads the team with 594 yards passing.
Susquehanna will look to get their second conference win of the young season and playing Dickinson will give the River Hawks a chance to rebound from their two close conference losses that could have swung either way.