RINDGE, N.H. (September 16, 2017) – Sophomore back Kobie Smith (Leominster, Mass.) rushed for 133 yards and a score on 22 carries (6.0 yards/attempt) and freshman quarterback Jared Lubas (Salem, Mass.) scampered for an important, 19-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter on Saturday afternoon, as the Franklin Pierce University sprint football team opened the 2017 season with a win. Lubas also threw for 146 yards and a touchdown, and the Ravens held on late for a 24-21 win over Mansfield in Collegiate Sprint Football League action at Sodexo Field.
With the win, Franklin Pierce opens the season at 1-0, while Mansfield falls to 0-1. The game represented the first victory for first-year head coach Rashad Watson.
Trailing 13-10 late into the third quarter, the Ravens took the lead for good on a drive which began at midfield. On the fourth play of the drive, which was a 1st-and-10 from the Mansfield 38-yard line, Smith sliced through the middle of the line and found running room for the 38-yard score. Franklin Pierce took a 17-13 lead with 2:55 left in the third quarter, after sophomore Owen King (Athol, Mass.) converted the point-after.
Franklin Pierce got the ball back almost immediately, as the defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing Mansfield possession. On the final play of the third quarter, Smith got loose again, this time for 17 yards, as he rushed to the Mansfield 37. The run set up the Ravens' final score of the game, on the third play of the fourth quarter. Taking the snap from the Mansfield 19, Lubas kept the ball himself and took it to the left side. He nearly ran out of room at the goal line, but was able to squeeze inside the pylon for the score and, following the point-after, a 24-13 lead.
Mansfield created the 24-21 final on a 14-yard score by freshman running back David Butler, who eluded pressure and sliced into the end zone. The Mountaineers, who were still chasing an earlier missed extra point, successfully completed a two-point conversion, as freshman quarterback Nick Cherasaro found sophomore wideout D.J. McLean in the end zone.
However, Smith capped his day by falling on the ensuing onside kick at midfield. The Ravens converted a first down with a 20-yard rush by Smith on 3rd-and-10, which set up a trio of kneel-downs by Lubas to wrap up the contest.
Earlier in the day, after a scoreless first quarter, Franklin Pierce opened the scoring just 1:23 into the second quarter, on a 30-yard field goal by King. Mansfield answered with a pair of touchdowns over the next nine minutes to jump to a 13-3 lead. First, Cherasaro hit McLean for a 72-yard catch-and-run down the left sideline. Later, Butler knifed through traffic for a 14-yard touchdown run. Lubas cut the Franklin Pierce deficit to 13-10 just 56 seconds prior to halftime, as he hooked up with freshman back Tionne Brown (Turners Falls, Mass.) for a 48-yard touchdown pass.
Lubas finished the day 7-for-14 for 146 yards to go with one touchdown and one interception, while being sacked once as well. Smith finished with his 133 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Brown was the team's leading receiver, as he hauled in three catches for 75 yards and a score.
Defensively, senior linebacker Demitri Moreno (Alhambra, Calif.) led the way for Franklin Pierce with 14 tackles (nine solo), including one for loss.
For Mansfield, Butler finished the day with 89 yards on the ground on 18 carries (4.9 yards/rush) and found the end zone twice. Cherasaro went 18-for-31 through the air, for 207 yards and a score. McLean was the team's leading receiver, with six catches for 141 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively for the Mountaineers, freshman linebacker Evan Shumway led the team with nine tackles (four solo), including 2.5 tackles for loss.
The Ravens return to the field on Saturday, Sept. 23, when they remain home to host Army West Point. Opening kickoff is set for noon at Sodexo Field.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce football apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store).