Albright Lions steal ECAC Bowl from Dips in final quarter

BY MARK ROSSMAN ’14
Sports Editor

The Diplomats final record falls to 7-4 after a postseason home game against Albright Lions Saturday. This was the first game for the Dips in the ECAC Southeast Bowl, which had them winning by 14 points until the final quarter when the Lions overtook them, scoring 24 points in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the Dips, they could not come back from their success, with the final score ending at a close 38-34.

“It’s always fun when there’s an opportunity to host postseason games here,” said Bryan Stabbe ’13, student sports commentator. “It’s obviously always more fun when you win, but it was a great atmosphere, it was a nice culmination of the season.

“It was a nice way to send the seniors off, have them have one more game back on Williamson,” Stabbe said. “It was kind of a letdown in the result, but I think it’s always great to see our team succeeding postseason.

“I think they did play well,” Stabbe continued. “I mean, E.J. threw for five touchdowns; if we had won, he would have been the MVP. It was one of those things where the wheels kind of fell off very quickly, and the team was kind of left to pick up the pieces, I mean, when you let off 14 points in 14 seconds it’s kind of hard to come back from that. That being said, I think there were a lot of really good individual performances. It’s a disappointment the way that it turned out in the end, but to say that because they didn’t win their bowl game this wasn’t a successful season is not fair. I think they had a really great season.”

The team this season is almost unrecognizable compared to the team last season. The program has completely renovated itself into a new and improved F&M Football program.

“I think they outperformed the expectations of everyone who didn’t know anything about this program,” Stabbe said. “They were picked in the middle-bottom of the conference in the pre-season polls, and they ended up beating one of the best teams of the country in Johns Hopkins this year. I would say the season was a success; I’m sure the players are going to be disappointed that they weren’t able to make it to the NCAA tournament and weren’t able to win the bowl game, but it’s one of those stepping stone things coming off a three-win season the year
before.”

That is why it is unfortunate the season ended with a loss, after having so many great successes throughout the season.

“Saturday’s game will definitely be a learning experience for the guys returning next year,” said Sami Caygoz ’13, member of the offensive line. “We dominated the game in every way, but some mistakes throughout caused us to lose the game.”

The team can only learn from any mistakes, whether their fault or not, made this Saturday.

“I think the team has a lot to look forward to next season,” Stabbe said. “We’re turning a lot of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. We’ll lose a lot of great, really talented seniors, who have been instrumental in turning this program around, but one of the aspects of this team that was so great [was] there was a lot of depth, and a lot of young guys who showed a lot of potential to step up and be that next group to lead the way, and I think next year there’s a really good chance that they could exceed the performance we had this year.”

The shining glory of the team’s season this year was surely taking down Johns Hopkins University. Undefeated for 22 games, Hopkins was taken down by F&M in a 14-12 win at home in Lancaster, which also added to the excitement. This game accounts for Hopkins’ only loss in the conference play this season.

The team also beat two of the top-10 teams in our region, Washington and Lee University in week one, in addition to Johns Hopkins in week ten.

Albright did very well in their conference, with a 6-3 record. The team had an 8-3 overall record.

“Neither of the teams ended up with an automatic qualifier or an at-large qualifier for the NCAA tournament, so they both got ECAC bids,” Stabbe said. “I think the committee looked at those quality wins that the team had and said that they’re clearly deserving of hosting a bowl game.”

Unfortunately for the 16 seniors on the team, this meant the end for their collegiate football careers. That being said, it is great to leave on such a high note for the program. The team has improved a lot.

“I feel great about this year’s team,” Caygoz said. “We entered every game knowing we could win, and we knew it would require a full team effort. All of our wins required a full team effort, and our losses showed that.”

Despite the loss this weekend, the team has much to look forward to next season and much to look back and be proud of.

Questions? Email Mark at mrossman@fandm.edu.

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