LANCASTER, Pa. -- Lamont Jackson's nine-yard run with 15 seconds remaining in the game delivered Franklin & Marshall a dramatic 35-28 victory over Washington & Lee in the Diplomats 125th season opener.
The Generals (0-1) tied the game at 28-28 with 2:40 left to play when Nick Lombardo ended a 13-play, 66-yard drive with a three-yard plunge on fourth and goal.
F&M (1-0) received some help on the ensuing kickoff when W&L kicked the ball out of bounds, giving the Diplomats the ball on the 40-yard line with 2:34 on the clock. Two plays later, F&M faced a third and two when E.J. Schneider gained 19 yards on a quarterback draw to pick up the first down and get F&M in Generals territory at the 33.
Schneider hooked up with Jordan Zackery three times in the final drive for 21 yards, the latter putting F&M on the nine with 18 seconds left. Jackson took it from there for the game-winner and Chris DeStefano nailed the point after for the 35-28 final.
The Diplomats struck first when Schneider found Paul McGann to cap off a three-play, 63-yard drive almost eight minutes into the game to give F&M an early 6-0 lead in the first quarter. W&L responded a series later when Brett Murray dove in from a yard out to give the Generals a 7-6 edge with 2:05 remaining in the first quarter.
Murray put W&L up 14-6 with a 21-yard jaunt three minutes into the second quarter. F&M answered on its next possession, taking the ball 78 yards down the field in 3:39 to make in 14-12 when Schneider found Andrew Martinez for the score. Schneider then found Devin Hunter for the two-point conversion to tie the game at 14-14.
The Generals countered on their next possession with a 14-play, 63-yard scoring drive to go into the break with a 21-14 advantage.
Jackson picked up his first score in the third quarter when he finished off a 10-play, 62-yard with a one-yard run to tie game at 21-21 with 2:14 left in the quarter.
W&L threatened on its next possession when Luke Heinsohn rambled 58 yards, on the Generals first play down to F&M 27-yard line. However, on the next play, DeStefano stripped Murray and Aaron Fant recovered the ball on the 27, ending the threat.
F&M jumped out to a 28-21 edge with 9:44 left in the game when Schneider led a 13-play, 93-yard drive that chewed up 6:44 off the clock. The junior ended the drive with a six-yard plunge, which set up the dramatic finish.
Schneider picked up 270 yards in the air on 26-for-39 passing and added 110 more on the ground. The signal-caller accounted for three scores, one rushing and two passing, as he led the team in both categories while Jackson picked up 42 yards on 14 touches with two scores.
Zackery hauled in a game-high 11 balls for 93 yards and Paul McGann finished with 64 yards on five catches. Tim Muller had 54 yards on five receptions and Jackson added 23 yards on one catch.
Sam Massaro and Chris DeStefano anchored the F&M defense with nine tackles each. DeStefano had eight solo stops and an assist and forced a fumble. Massaro tallied seven solos, including 1.5 tackles that went for a loss and joined C.T. Marsh on a sack. Marsh brings his career sack total to 26.5 and now needs just five more to become the all-time leader in Centennial Conference history.
F&M returns to action next Saturday when the Diplomats travel to Muhlenberg for both team's conference opener at 1:00 p.m.