Mitchell Makes Marks, Devils Defend Wagon 45-43
(Lancaster, Pa.)- The Dickinson College football team won another shootout, slipping past Franklin & Marshall, 45-43, on a last second field-goal by Gordon Craig (Grove City, Pa./Grove City). The Red Devils retain possession of the coveted Conestoga Wagon Trophy for the sixth straight season.
If there were wagons, they would have been circled as a pair of gunslingers led their teams to impressive offensive performances, combining for 880 yards on the day.
Senior quarterback Ian Mitchell (Newtown Square, Pa./Malvern Prep) had another outstanding afternoon, rushing for 179 yards on just 20 carries, scoring a pair of touchdowns. He broke the Centennial Conference rushing record for yards by a quarterback, running for 2,046 in his career.
Mitchell averaged a remarkable 8.8 yards per carry on the day. He also completed 9-of-14 passes for 104 yards and two more scores. He set the school record for career passing yards, reaching 3,895. He replaces Stanley Abromavage's '86 record of 3,840.
Patrick O'Connor (Exton, Pa./Downingtown East) and Craig Helfer (W. Caldwell, N.J./Newark Academy) were on the receiving end of those touchdown passes, combining for 61 yards.
Each team scored in the first quarter and then opened the gates in the second as Dickinson went into halftime with a 28-27 lead. The Diplomats went for a two-point conversion after the Devils blocked back-to-back extra-point attempts to give them a one-point advantage at the break.
F&M went three-and-out to open the second half. The Devils were forced to punt as well on their first possession, but Craig pinned a beautiful 34-yard punt inside the five yard line.
Sophomore quarterback John Harrison (Flourtown, Pa./La Salle College) led the Diplomats to the Dickinson 10 yard line before senior Pete Hamill (Downingtown, Pa./Downingtown West)intercepted a pass to give the Devils the ball on their own seven.
Mitchell broke for a 34 yard gain and Tim Smith (Hanover, Pa./Southwestern) added a 17 yard run to set up a Tim Wells (Baltimore, Md./Perry Hall) touchdown dive for the only score of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter added an element of chess after the Diplomats tied the game with an 11 yard pass and a second two-point conversion, knotting the game at 35-35.
Helfer gave the Devils great field position with a 34-yard kick-off return, starting the drive at the Dickinson 46 yard line. The Devils went for it on 4th-and-2 with Mitchell dodging his way into the endzone from 16 yards out with 8:03 remaining in the game.
The Diplomats answered again and gambled on a two-point conversion that saw Harrison connect with Ryan Murray (Sebastian, Fla./St. Edward's School) to put F&M on top 43-42 with just 3:49 on the clock.
The Devils kept the ball on the ground and in the hands of Smith and Wells, who carried Dickinson to the F&M four yard line. The Diplomats snagged Mitchell for a loss but Smith went up the middle on the next play, giving the Devils a 4th-and-goal from the two with time running out. The Devils called timeout with four ticks remaining, putting the game in the hands their kicker.
A pair of timeouts did not rattle Craig, who split the uprights from 19 yards out to give Dickinson the win.
Wells finished with 77 yards on 16 carries while Smith ran for 70 yards on 12 attempts. The Devils covered 357 yards on the ground, going over the 300-mark for the second straight week.
Helfer added 121 return yards, including a long run of 60.
Last week's Centennial Conference player of the week, Andrew Fink (Schuyllkill Haven, Pa./Schuylkill Haven) led the defense with a team-high 11 tackles. Hamill added seven tackles to what proved to be a key interception in the red zone.
Gray Gish (Boerne, Texas/Culver Academy) and Corwyn Gordon (Hanover, Pa./Southwestern) had big afternoons at defensive end. Gish recorded three sacks, forced two fumbles and blocked an extra-point. Gordon also blocked an extra-point, and had two tackles-for-loss and a sack.
Senior Michael Maxwell (Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville)intercepted a pass to end the first half and broke up five others on the day.
Harrison completed 28-of-42 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns.
The Red Devils improve to 3-0 on the season and start 1-0 in Centennial Conference play. The Red Devils return home to face McDaniel College next Saturday at 1:30 pm.