When the history of the Patriot League is written someday hopefully week 4 of the 2017 season is selectively forgotten. Outside of Bucknell’s thrilling win over Sacred Heart, it was one of the worst weekends the league has endured in years, maybe decades. Fresh off a “program changing win” against New Hampshire, Holy Cross snatched defeat from the jaws of victory twice against Dartmouth. Fordham and Lehigh continue to be among the biggest underachievers in FCS this year due to horrific play on defense. Colgate’s once proud defense failed them in an embarrassing 31 point loss to previously winless Furman. Then there’s Georgetown and Lafayette. Both of whom are struggling to get out their own way at this point of the season.
Penn 65 Lehigh 47
Lehigh’s (0-4, 0-0) nightmares on defense reached a new level of scariness against Penn (2-0) this past weekend. After giving up 38 points to Villanova, 46 to Monmouth and 56 to Yale the Mountain Hawks kept the trend arrive by surrendering 65 to the Quakers on a blistering hot afternoon in Bethlehem. Lehigh is now giving up 51.3 ppg which ranks 121st out of 123 teams in FCS. Penn was able to rank up 615 total yards including 312 on the ground. The Mountain Hawks now rank 121st (310.3 ypg) in FCS against the run following this debacle. Despite the excellent offensive output (47 points and 552 yards) Lehigh never led in the game do the horrific defense. To be fair, the Mountain Hawks did turn the ball 3 times in the first half which did not help.
The first of those turnovers occurred on Lehigh’s opening possession of the game. Five plays and 41 yards later the Quakers had an early 7-0 lead. Lehigh was able to respond on their next drive of the game. Brad Mayes (26-40 444 yards 4 TD 2 INT) connected with Gatlin Casey for a 6 yard TD to even the score at 7 with 8:15 left in the 1st quarter. The two teams would trade touchdowns until Mayes had back-to-back interceptions in the 2nd quarter. That allowed the Quakers to take a 35-21 lead with 3:43 left in the 2nd. Just before half, Mayes and Casey (10 rec 193 yards 3 TD) would hook up for the second time to get the deficit back to 7. The trading of touchdowns continued for most of the 3rd quarter. Finally, Penn was able to stretch the lead to 21 early in the 4th which effectively put the game out of reach.
Up Next: Lehigh travels to Staten Island to take on Wagner. The Mountain Hawks will be looking to avoid their second 0-5 start in 4 years.
Columbia 35 Georgetown 14
Georgetown’s (1-2, 0-0) struggles on offense continued in a 21 point loss to Columbia (2-0) on a mid-summer like day in New York City. The inability to run the ball (2 total yards rushing against CU) remains the biggest issue on offense. Three games into the season Georgetown ranks 120th (53.7 ypg) in FCS in rushing offense despite returning a veteran offensive line and two experienced running backs. To compound the issues on offense, Hoya’s fifth year senior quarterback Tim Barnes went down with injury late in the 1st quarter. Clay Norris (10-19 174 yards 2 TD), who has considerable experience, replaced Barnes for the rest of the game and did an admirable job.
The game started off in the type of defensive battle the Hoya’s seek. Georgetown missed two long (50 yards, 43 yards) 1st quarter field goals but were able to turn Columbia over on downs twice on 4th and short in Hoya territory to keep the game scoreless. Things then spiraled out of control for Georgetown in the 2nd quarter. Anders Hill proceeded to toss 3 touchdown passes to give the Lions a commanding 21-0 half time lead. Without their starting quarterback and an effective rushing attack Georgetown was basically dead in the water down 21 points. Hill’s fourth touchdown pass of the game early in the 4th quarter really put the game out of reach at 28-0. Norris added two late TD passes for Georgetown.
Up Next: Georgetown and Harvard will square off at RFK Stadium. This will be the first time the Hoyas have played an off-campus home game since joining the Patriot League in 2001.
Bryant 45 Fordham 40
Fordham (1-3, 0-0) fell to Bryant (2-2) by 5 point as the Ram’s defense once again failed them. Like fellow preseason league favorite Lehigh, Fordham’s season is unravelling at an alarming rate due to one of the worst defenses in FCS. Bryant set a school record for total yards in a game (608) in the win over the Rams. Fordham now rank 119th in FCS in yards allowed per game (516.3). Against Bryant the Ram’s had 6 opportunities to get off the field on 4th down but failed to do so on 5 occasions. Had they been able to limit Bryant to just 50% on 4th down the Rams likely escape Rhode Island with a win. As it is, the Rams are off their worst start since 2011 when they went 1-10.
Fordham was able to respond to an early Bryant touchdown with a TD of their own thanks to a 93 yard Dylan Mabin kickoff return. It would take the Bulldogs 90 seconds to retake the lead 13-6 (missed XP). The Rams would once again answer. Kevin Anderson (27-42 366 yards 5 TD 1 INT) tossed two 2nd quarter touchdown passes to Isaiah Searight to give Fordham a 20-13 lead. Bryant was able to convert a 32 yard FG as time expired in the first half to but the Ram lead to 4. The two teams would continue to trade scores in the second half. The defining sequence in the second half occurred when Bryant’s Jean Constant scored two touchdowns within 4 minutes of each other early in the 4th quarter to give Bryant a 2 possession lead at 45-34. Fordham was able to cut the deficit to 5 with just over 3 minutes left but their defense could not get Bryant off the field before time ran out.
Up Next: Fordham takes the short bus ride to New Haven, CT to take on Yale. Fordham outlasted Yale 44-37 last year in the Bronx.
Furman 45 Colgate 14
Colgate’s (1-3, 0-0) once promising start is now a fleeting memory following a surprising 30 point loss to previously winless Furman (1-3). The Raiders offense continues to be a major issue as the first month of the season draws to a close. Grant Breneman had a much better performance (21-39 217 yards 2 TD) in his second career start under center compared to the one he put forth against Buffalo last week. However, even with the improved play from Breneman against Furman, the Raider passing attack still ranks 116th in FCS (118 ypg). Surprisingly, Colgate’s biggest issue on offense against the Paladins was the inability to get the ground game going (102 yards). Furman was able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball from the outset of the game.
It did not take long for Furman to flex their muscle. Following a Colgate fumble on their second possession, Paladin quarterback PJ Blazejowski found a streaking Cam Burnette for a 61 yard TD with 10:17 remaining in the 1st quarter. Ridge Gibson’s 6 yard TD run with 3:45 to go in the opening quarter extended the Furman lead to 14-0. On the Paladin’s next possession Blazejowski tacked on a second 1st quarter TD pass to push the lead to 21-0. Furman then outscored Colgate 17-7 in the second quarter to take a commanding 38-7 lead into the locker room. The 31 point deficit would ultimately be the final margin of defeat for the Raiders.
Up Next: Colgate heads to Ithaca to take on long time Central New York rival Cornell. The Big Red stormed back in the 4th quarter last year to shock Colgate 39-38.
Princeton 38 Lafayette 17
Lafayette (0-4, 0-0) put forth an inspired effort against Princeton (2-0) but still came up 21 points short against the defending Ivy League co-champs. The Leopards played much better than they did against Villanova the previous week but it still wasn’t good enough to earn John Garrett his first career. The inability to run the ball (36 yards against Princeton) on offense continues to haunt the Leopards offense. After 4 games Lafayette ranks 122nd out of 123 teams in FCS in rushing yards per game (15.8). Freshman quarterback Sean O’Malley was able to put together his best game of the year (30-44 325 yards 2 TD 1 INT) despite getting no help from his running backs.
Princeton jumped out to 3-0 lead thanks to a Tavish Rice 25 yards FG. The Leopards were able to take a 7-3 1st quarter lead when O’Malley connected with talented TE Dylan Wadsworth for a 5 yard TD toss. Unfortunately for Lafayette, the Tigers immediately responded with an 11 play 73 yard TD drive to retake the lead at 10-7. Lafayette would tie the game at 10 when Jeffrey Kordenbrock knocked through a 22 yard FG midway through the 2nd quarter. Princeton would once again respond on the ensuing drive. Charlie Volker’s 19 yard TD run capped the short 7 play 45 yard TD drive. The Tigers would extend their lead to 24-10 right before half time. Princeton would put the game away in the 3rd quarter when Chad Kanoff hit Jesper Horsted for 7 yard TD.
Up Next: Lafayette opens league play against Holy Cross in Worcester. The Leopards fell to the Crusaders 38-28 last year.
Bucknell 34 Sacred Heart 31
Bucknell (2-2, 0-1) needed a last second field goal to beat Sacred Heart (2-2) in a thrilling back and forth battle. John Burdick’s career long 46 yard FG as time expired sent the entire Bison sideline into a frenzy and left Sacred Heart with a long bus ride back to Connecticut. After suffering two straight losses against tough competition (Holy Cross and William & Mary) Bucknell needed a win to get the season back on track. Helping the Bison’s cause in the win over the Pioneers was a rushing attack that finally topped the century mark (125 yards) for the first time this year. Joey DeFloria led the way with 80 yards and 2 TDs while Chad Freshnock chipped in with 31 yards and 1 TD. Bucknell was also able to turn 3 Sacred Heart turnovers into 14 points.
Bucknell jumped out to a 17-0 lead after scoring touchdowns on their first 2 possessions of the game and adding an early 2nd quarter FG. However, Sacred Hearth closed the gap to 17-10 at the half thanks to a 34 yard FG and a pick six by Kevin Barry. The Pioneers tied up the game at 17 when Ezekiel Ennis returned the second half kickoff 98 yards for a TD. Bucknell would eventually push their lead back to 14 (31-17) when DeFloria and Freshnock each found the end zone. Once again the Pioneers would come charging back. Sacred Heart’s second 4th quarter touchdown tied the game at 31 with 4:12 left in regulation. The Bison “D” came up with a huge 4th down stop with 1:26 remaining on Sacred Heart’s next possession. That led to the Bison drive that ended with Burdick’s game winning field goal.
Up Next: Bucknell welcomes Big South member Monmouth to Lewisburg. The Hawks have already scored wins over Patriot League members Lafayette and Lehigh this season.
Dartmouth 27 #23 Holy Cross 20 OT
Holy Cross (2-2, 1-0) suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss to Dartmouth (2-0) on a picture perfect late summer night in Northern New England. A blocked extra point following Holy Cross’s touchdown with 3 seconds left in regulation ultimately proved to be the difference in the game. The Crusaders did all the little things right against New Hampshire the week prior but couldn’t replicate such a performance against the Big Green. Not only did special teams let the Crusaders down, their defense allowed 203 rushing yards to Dartmouth. If the Crusaders want to maintain their current status as the league favorite they must tighten things up in all 3 phases. With the victory, Dartmouth extended their out of conference winning streak to 10 games.
Dartmouth got on the board first with a 6 play 48 yard TD drive. Jack Heneghan’s 22 yard TD pass to Emory Thompson with 5:43 left in the opening quarter capped the drive. Peter Pujals(25-47 222 yards 2 TD 1 INT) responded with a TD pass of his own early in 2nd quarter to tie the game at 7. Following a Dartmouth FG, Holy Cross took their first lead of the game on Miles Alexander’s 7 yard TD run with 3:12 left in the 2nd quarter. Dartmouth would add a FG as time expired in the 1st half to cut the Crusader lead to 14-13. Dartmouth would retake the lead late in the 3rd quarter when Ryder Stone busted loose for a 44 yard TD run. After missing a FG midway through the 4th quarter the Crusaders got another crack on offense with 3:46 left in regulation. This time Pujals marched the Cruaders 86 yards on 13 plays for the game tying touchdown as the clock struck 0:00. The blocked XP sent the game to overtime. Dartmouth scored a TD on their first possession of OT. Holy Cross’s Diquan Walker answered with a TD from a yard out. However, instead of kicking the XP and banking on a 2nd OT, Holy Cross head coach Tom Gilmore elected to go for 2 and the win. Unfortunately for the Crusaders, Pujals’s pass on the 2 point try fell incomplete allowing Dartmouth to escape with a 1 point win.
Up Next: Holy Cross returns to Fitton Field to host Patriot League foe Lafayette. Holy Cross outlasted the Leopards last year in Easton.
- Holy Cross – Tough road loss to Dartmouth definitely cost the Crusaders a lot of momentum they built up after the UNH win. They need to come out and reassert themselves against Lafayette.
- Bucknell – The Bison have basically done what was expected of them to this point. A win over Monmouth would send a message to rest of the league.
- Colgate – The wheels have fallen off after opening the season with a win over then Top 25 Cal Poly. The Raiders need to get back on track against their hated rivals (Cornell) from the Ivy League.
- Fordham – The defense is in shambles but Edmonds is healing up. If he returns to full strength they still have a shot
- Lehigh – Their defense is past the point of shambles and they don’t have an All-American RB waiting to return. Wagner is a must win if they want to head to Colgate with some positive mojo.
- Georgetown – The Tim Barnes injury situation is of utmost importance. The Hoyas need him for the offense to have any chance moving forward.
- Lafayette – The Leopards played hard, and at times well, against Princeton. Still, it’s difficult to see more than 1 win on their remaining schedule.