The old adage “it’s better late than never” holds true in week 11 of the Patriot League football season. The first Saturday of November features a highly anticipated battle between Holy Cross and Lehigh in the Christmas City. With both teams owning undefeated league marks odds are the winner of this game captures at least a share of the title. In addition to the what’s at stake on the field, there’s a juicy subplot starring former Crusader head coach and current Lehigh front man Tom Gilmore. Fifteen minutes down the road from the main event in Bethlehem Lafayette hosts Fordham in a spicy undercard that could go a long way in determining the league race. The “third wheel” game of the week is Colgate at Georgetown. The Hoyas are looking to lock up the programs first winning season since 2011 while Colgate is trying to stave off their first 9 loss campaign in 24 years. Bucknell is on a bye.
Colgate (1-8, 0-3) at Georgetown (5-3, 1-2) 12 P.M. Cooper Field; Washington D.C.
Live Streaming: Patriot League Network
The Need to Know: Colgate and Georgetown square-off on the banks of the Potomac at high noon Saturday. These are two teams in desperate need of an emotionally uplifting win. The Raiders suffered their 7th lopsided loss of the season against Holy Cross (31-10) last weekend. Georgetown returns home after a devastating 27-24 setback against Lehigh. The 3 point “L” will ultimately cost the Hoyas their first ever Patriot League Title. When Gunther Johnson connected with Michael Dereus on 4th and 4 for a game tying 72 yard touchdown with 1:23 with left in regulation it felt like the Hoyas were going to find a way to stay in the race. However, the stout Georgetown defense allowed the Mountain Hawk “O” to go 59 yards in a little over a minute. That march into Hoya territory setup Lehigh’s 27 yard game winning field goal. In each of Georgetown’s three losses this season (Davidson, Fordham, Lehigh) the defense struggled to make key stops in the second half. The good news for Coach Sgarlata’s team is the fact that Colgate’s struggling offense (12.6 ppg) does not present nearly the challenge the three above mentioned squads did.
Colgate ventures to our nation’s capital licking their wounds from the shellacking they took at Holy Cross. The Raider’s once vaunted defense was carved up by a Crusader’s offense (502 yards) that’s struggled to find its footing for much of the year. The biggest issues were the 235 yards on the ground Colgate gave up and a handful of big plays through the air Holy Cross was able to complete. Offensively (280 ypg), there has been little to no improvement since Breneman returned the line-up a few weeks ago. Turnovers (2 INT against HC) continue to plague the junior quarterback. The Raiders have three games left to build some momentum for 2020.
Georgetown has been the much better team in 2019. If they’re able to put last week’s loss behind them Colgate shouldn’t offer much resistant on Saturday. The Raider’s best chance to emerge victorious is to win the turnover battle and sustain lengthy drives on offense that end in points.
Prediction: Georgetown 30 Colgate 20
Fordham (3-5, 1-1) at Lafayette (1-7, 1-1) 12:30 P.M. Fisher Field; Easton, PA
Live Streaming: Patriot League Network
The Need to Know: Fordham makes the 90 minute trip down I-78 to clash with Lafayette in what amounts to a league title elimination game. Lafayette is in the hunt despite having won just one game (last week against Bucknell) in 2019. With games against Holy Cross and Lehigh remaining the Leopards amazingly control their destiny in the Patriot League Title chase. The question is can a team that is one week removed from a 10 game losing streak pull it off? Getting quarterback Keegan Shoemaker to replicate his Patriot League Offensive POW performance against Bucknell (23-27 207 yards passing 1 TD, 42 yards rushing 1 TD) would be a great starting point. In addition to Shoemaker’s performance, the often sleepy ground attack came to life (162 yards) in the win over the Bison. On the other side of the ball, the Leopard’s “D” held a second straight opponent to under 300 total yards. The defense will have a tough time making it two in row against a skilled Ram’s attack.
Thanks to a late October bye, Fordham had an extra week to digest and recover from their OT loss to Lehigh . Despite that setback, the Rams are one Lehigh loss away from being right back in the title chase. In order to finish the season strong, quarterback Tim DeMorat (201 ypg 13 TD 8 INT) must raise his level of play. The talented sophomore has been in a bit of a slump the last month which has limited the offense’s potential. The defense (448 ypg allowed, 5th in PL) also needs to make strides the final month of the season. Sub-par “D” has plagued the Rams for a handful of years. The front seven needs to get pressure on Keegan Shoemaker in order to make him uncomfortable. Fordham’s linebackers are more than capable of limiting Shoemakers running opportunities and forcing the freshman into mistakes with his arm.
Lafayette’s competitive spirit was finally rewarded last week in a win over the Bison. Despite owning just that lone win the Leopards have the pieces to make a run at the Rams. With that said, the Rams had an extra week to prepare for this one so they remain a slight favorite.
Prediction: Fordham 30 Lafayette 24
Holy Cross (4-4, 2-0) at Lehigh (4-3, 3-0) 12:30 P.M. Goodman Stadium; Bethlehem, PA
Live Streaming: Patriot League Network
The Need to Know: The first big game of the 2019 Patriot League football season takes place in Eastern Pennsylvania Saturday afternoon when Holy Cross and Lehigh battle for first place. The Crusaders are looking for their first league title and trip to the FCS Playoffs since 2009. The head coach of Holy Cross at that time? Current Lehigh leader Tom Gilmore! Gilmore’s Mount Hawks are trying to capture their third league title in the last four seasons and the programs 11th overall. Lehigh is in this position because of their ability to win close games. All three of Lehigh’s league “W’s” (Colgate, Fordham and Georgetown) have been secured on the game’s final play. The reason for all these cardiac finishes? The offense continues to be a bit too erratic (322 ypg) and the defense has the propensity to give up the big play. Lehigh’s ability to generate points in the 4th quarter in close games and their defense’s overall improvement (373 ypg allowed, 2nd in PL) are the biggest reasons Lehigh has a winning record heading into November.
Holy Cross played their best, most complete game of the season last week against Colgate (won 31-10). The Crusaders offense generated 502 total yards thanks in large part to the Degenhardt to Asante (144 yards 2 TD) connection through the air and Dominic Cozier’s 153 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. Coach Chesney’s defense harassed Colgate quarterback Grant Breneman (2 INT) all afternoon and basically shutdown the Raider ground attack (96 yards). The underrated Crusader front seven has the potential to give Lehigh’s offensive line trouble. If Holy Cross is able to pressure Lehigh quarterback Tim Monaco the league’s top ranked passing attack (245 ypg) will be slowed significantly.
Prior to Holy Cross destroying Lehigh 56-0 last season the Mountain Hawks won 7 out of the previous 8 meetings. Lehigh has already avenged three of their four 2018 league losses this season. Getting the fourth against a dangerous Holy Cross team will be the toughest hurdle yet. Home field and a senior class with championship pedigree will get Lehigh over that lofty bar.
Prediction: Lehigh 34 Holy Cross 27