Patriot League: Week 10 Preview

Lehigh (2-6, 2-1) at Bucknell (4-4, 1-2) – Nov. 4th 12 PM Christy Mathewson Stadium Lewisburg, PA

Live Streaming – Patriot League Network

Lehigh heads to Central Pennsylvania to take on the Bucknell Bison in a key Patriot League battle. The Mountain Hawks are still in the driver’s seat for the league title despite putting forth a lackluster effort last weekend against Fordham. Junior quarterback Brad Mayes made several poor decisions, Troy Pelletier was held in check (5 rec 19 yards) and the defense was once again terrible in the 45-35 loss to the Rams. The Mountain Hawks also took a hit on the injury front in the loss. Fifth year senior DT Jimmy Mitchell was lost for the rest of the year with torn ACL and starting tight end Drew Paulsen is likely done for after suffering a severe concussion.

Bucknell enters the game off a terrible performance on the road against Colgate. Bucknell headed to Upstate New York with their championship aspirations still fully in tact but ultimately suffered their worst loss (40-3, 37 point margin) since 2011 when Harvard pounded the Bison 42-3. It was the second straight game the Bison failed to notch an offensive touchdown. As a result of the offense’s recent slide and John Chiarolanzio’s propensity to throw interceptions, Coach Susan is handing the starting quarterback job over to Matt Muh. Muh, a senior, started 4 games last year before suffering a season ending injury against Colgate. With Joey DeFloria ruled out with an injury for a second straight week, Chad Freshnock will get the start at running back.

In recent times Lehigh has completely dominated Bucknell. The Mountain Hawks have won 17 out of the last 19 meetings dating back to 1998. Bucknell has often played Lehigh tough during that time but their inability to score points has cost them. The two times the Bison have put up points, 48 in ’13 and 45 in ’14, they’ve won.  Given Lehigh’s historically bad defense there’s little doubt Bucknell will break out of their offensive slump on Saturday. A healthy dose of bruising RB Chad Freshnock and back-up Marquis Carter should be the priority on “O”.

Bucknell needs their defense to bounce back after a really ugly performance against Colgate. My guess is it does. Coach Susan usually has a great defensive game plan to slow down the Mountain Hawk’s traditionally high powered offense.

Prediction: Bucknell 37 Lehigh 27

Holy Cross (3-6, 2-2) at Fordham (3-6, 2-2) – Nov. 4th 1 PM Jack Coffey Field Bronx, NY

Live Streaming – Patriot League Network

After struggling for much of the year, both Fordham and Holy Cross enter their annual grudge match off a win. Fordham put forth a spirited effort against Lehigh last weekend in their 45-35 win over the Mountain Hawks. Fourth string RB D’Angelo Palladino exploded for 297 yards to lead the Ram offense in the “W”. The much maligned defense gave up yards in bunches but were able to force 4 key turnovers. If Fordham brings the same energy and intensity there’s a great chance Coach Breiner’s team ends the year on a bit of a roll. It’s still too early to know if Edmonds will be available against the Crusaders. The senior running back is still within a whisker (8 yards) of breaking the league’s all-time rushing record.

Holy Cross put an end to their 5 game losing streak and earned Interim Head Coach Brian Rock his first career win with a 24-10 victory over Georgetown. The Hoyas were just what Holy Cross needed to prevent their season from going completely down the drain. Holy Cross’s defense was able to stifle the struggling Georgetown offense in the second half to preserve the win. On offense, Pujals had a much needed bounce back game against the Hoyas. The 5th year senior threw the ball well and his decision making was far better than it had been in recent weeks. If Pujals can keep his confidence up and make smart decisions he’ll have opportunities to make plays against the Ram defense (105th in FCS, 443 ypg).

Despite the records this is an interesting game. Both teams entered the season with high expectations but for numerous reasons each sit at 3-6 as November begins. There are also several proud seniors on Fordham and Holy Cross that will do everything in their power to end their college careers on a positive note. This game will likely come down to the two quarterbacks. Fordham’s Kevin Anderson (245 ypg 14 TD 4 INT) and Pujals (258 ypg 13 TD 7 INT) will put up big numbers but must avoid key mistakes in order for their team to come out on top.

The taste of Fordham running Holy Cross out of Yankee Stadium 54-14 last year has to be on the minds of the Crusader players. There’s no doubt this game will be closer that debacle. Still, the Rams will be at home in the Bronx again where they’ve been brutally tough to beat the last 6 years.

Prediction: Fordham 41 Holy Cross 34

Lafayette (2-6, 2-1) at Georgetown (1-7, 0-3) – Nov. 4th 2 PM Cooper Field Washington D.C.

Live Streaming – Patriot League Network

If you’re looking for an aesthetically pleasing football game that consists of refined offenses and a lots of points Georgetown and Lafayette is not for you. The Leopards (121st in FCS, 224 ypg) and Hoyas (111th in FCS, 268 ypg) are two of the most offensively challenged teams in FCS. Even more specifically their respective rushing attacks are atrocious. Georgetown ranks 121st in FCS with 48 rushing ypg while Lafayette is even worse; 122nd in FCS with a woeful 20 ypg average.  There aren’t many college football games at any level where the two teams combined average rushing total is less than 100 yards! Both offenses are going to count on their quarterbacks to make plays downfield and avoid costly mistakes. Sean O’Malley has the more proven set of pass catchers to work with so if one offensive has an advantage it’s the Leopard’s.

Georgetown’s defense has played well the last 2 weeks (17 & 24 points allowed) after hitting a rough  patch early in the season. The key to keeping the Leopard offense under wraps is pressuring O’Malley and limit wide receiver Rocco Palumbo’s (50 ypg 4 TD) touches. If the Hoyas are able to accomplish both of those tasks it’s hard to imagine Lafayette breaking the 20 point barrier. Without a running game it’s very difficult to grind out drives so the points the Leopards do score will likely come off of short fields and/or big plays.

The Leopard defense has been lights out in league play. Leading the way for the Lafayette defense is CB Phil Parham and LB Brandon Bryant (109 tackles). Parham has become dominant in coverage and Bryant is one of the leading candidates for Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year. Georgetown QB Gunther Johnson has brought a spark to the Hoya offense but without a rushing attack he’s been forced to carry too much of the load. The Lafayette defense will try to get after him early and often. Johnson and Michael Dereus will need to make a couple explosive plays downfield in order for the offense to score enough points to win.

Prediction: Lafayette 16 Georgetown 6

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