Patriot League: Week 5 Recap and Power Rankings

The teams in the Patriot League tried their hardest to replicate last week’s nightmare. Slightly less alarming point totals and a solid road win by Colgate over their rival Cornell prevented week 5 from reaching week 4’s dumpster fire mess. Holy Cross, who had built up quite a bit of momentum nationally, suffered a horrible league loss to previously winless Lafayette. After beating New Hampshire and finding their way into the national rankings the Crusaders have fallen flat on their face the last two weeks. Lehigh and Fordham continue to be the biggest underachievers in FCS thanks to two of the worst defenses in the subdivision. Bucknell was latest team to take it on the chin from Monmouth. The Bison need to figure out a way to run the ball if they want get back into the league race. Georgetown has major issues on both sides of the ball which will make winning another game an uphill battle.

Harvard 41 Georgetown 2

Georgetown (1-3, 0-0) lost their third game in a row as they fell to Harvard (2-1) in decisive fashion at RFK Stadium. The Hoyas were playing without starting quarterback Tim Benson for the second straight game and simply couldn’t get anything going on offense in the first half (70 total yards) to keep up with a quality Crimson squad. Clay Norris (13-29 129 yards 0 TD 1 INT) once again got the starting nod in Benson’s absence. Isaac Ellsworth was the lone Hoya to have success racking up yards against Harvard. The senior RB/KR racked up 282 all-purpose yards in the loss. The Georgetown defense was able to hang in for the first 15 minutes of the game but the flood gates eventually opened up in the 2nd quarter.

Harvard was able to jump on the board first thanks to their special teams. Justice Shelton-Mosely 91 yard punt return with 12:38 left in the opening quarter gave the Crimson an early 7-0 lead. Harvard made it 14-0 a few minutes later when Charlie Booker’s 11 yard TD run capped a 10 play 66 yard drive. Harvard’s defense got in on the action when Raishaun McGree returned a Norris pass 23 yards for a pick six to stretch the lead to 21-0 less than a minute into the second quarter. Following a Harvard FG, Georgetown finally got points when the snap went over the punters head and out of the end zone for a safety. The Hoyas were unable to fully take advantage of the mistake as they fumbled the ensuing free kick back to Harvard. 58 seconds later Booker added his second rushing TD of the game to give Harvard a commanding 31-2 half time lead.

Up Next: Georgetown travels to Central New Jersey to take on Princeton. The Tigers took down the Hoyas 31-17 last year.

Lafayette 10 Holy Cross 7

Lafayette (1-4, 1-0) made sure their first win of the John Garrett era was both thrilling and stunning. The Leopards took down the recently anointed Patriot League favorite Crusaders (2-3, 0-1) thanks to a 43 yard FG by Jeffrey Kordenbrock as clock hit zero. The Leopards were able to pull off the upset despite their offense amassing a total of 220 yards. Factored into that total is a beyond ugly -6 yards on the ground. Lafayette now ranks 122nd in FCS (out of 123 teams) in rushing with an 11.4 per game average. The star of the day for the Leopards was the defense. They held Pujals (26-47 191 yards) and company well below their season averages for points and yards in the win. The defining play of the game came when Crusader head coach Tom Gilmore elected to go for a 4th and 1 on their own 33 with less than 2 minutes. On the play, Lafayette’s Brandon Bryant stonewalled Diquan Walker to give the ball back to his offense in ridiculously good field position.

Holy Cross drove deep into Lafayette territory on their second and third possessions of the game but failed to score (downs/missed FG). The Crusader’s fortunes would change the 4th time their offense touched the ball. Miles Alexander rambled in from 9 yards to give the Crusaders a 7-0 lead with 11:47 left in the 2nd quarter to cap a grinding 9 play 55 yard drive. The game would remain a defensive slugfest until the final seconds of the 3rd quarter. That’s when Leopard quarter Sean O’Malley (27-40 226 yards 1 TD 3 INT) found Rocco Palumbo (7 rec 78 yards 1 TD) for a 32 yard touchdown. The game would ultimately come down to Gilmore’s decision to gamble on the 4th one 1 on his own 33 yard line. The calculation ultimately proved wrong which could prove very costly for the Crusader’s and perhaps even Gilmore down the road.

Up Next: Holy Cross hosts a red hot Monmouth team while Lafayette welcomes Fordham in an important Patriot League contest.

Colgate 21 Cornell 7

Colgate (2-3, 0-0) used a strong defensive performance to take down their long-time rival Cornell (0-3) in Ithaca. The return of preseason All-American Pat Afriyie was a very obvious boost to the defense that got run over by Furman the week before. So much so that Afriyie and company set a school record for sacks (9) in a single game. The offense also played better after struggling mightily the previous 3 weeks. Grant Brenerman (13-21 119 yards 2 TD, 25 yards rushing 1 TD) had his most effective game of year in the win which is the main reason the “O” clicked a little better.  In many ways it was a vintage “Colgatesque” win; run the ball, control the clock and play sound defense. With league play about to start Coach Hunt has to be feeling quite a bit better after the rough 1-3 start.

Both teams made key 4th down stops in the 1st quarter to keep the game scoreless through the first 15 minutes of action. Colgate finally broke the 0-0 tie with 10:42 left in the 2nd quarter when Brenerman hit Thomas Ives for a 7 yard TD. Brenerman added a rushing TD on Colgate’s next possession to extend the lead to 14-0. The 8 yard TD scamper capped a grueling 12 play 64 yard drive. Cornell would close the gap to 14-7 with 1:25 remaining in the 3rd quarter. They would get no closer as the Raiders would march 50 yards in 15 plays for the game clinching TD. Colgate’s defense would finish the game with 3 straight interceptions to preserve the win.

Up Next: Colgate returns to Andy Kerr to play long time league rival Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks ran away from the Raiders in the second half last year on their way to victory.

Yale 41 Fordham 10

Yale (3-0) got off to a quick start and never looked back in a dominating 31 point win over Fordham (1-4, 0-0) at Jack Coffey Field. The loss sends Fordham into league play on their first 3 game losing streak since 2011. The Rams went on to finish a dreadful 1-10 that year. Fordham’s defense was once again gashed on the ground (227 yards). The Eli racked up 416 total yards on a rather modest, by today’s standards, 56 total plays. On a positive note, preseason All-American running back Chase Edmonds (16 carries 83 yards) returned to action after missing the previous 3 games with an ankle injury. If Fordham wants to salvage their season by winning the league Edmonds has to shine. In order for that to happen the offensive line must play better. Anderson has been harassed all season which has greatly reduced the offense’s effectiveness.

The game started with a quick 3 and out by the Ram offense. The Eli offense then got things going with a brisk 5 play 60 yard TD drive on their opening possession of the game. Yale then made it 14-0 the next time they touched the ball. Following another 3 and out by the Ram offense the Eli struck again with a short 4 play 38 yard TD. As a result of the early onslaught Fordham was down 21-0 with 2:34 left in the opening quarter. The Ram “O” finally got things going the next time they touched the ball. Unfortunately, they could only manage a FG following a 14 play 63 yard drive that reached the Yale 13 yard line. The Eli would really step on the Ram’s throat following the FG. DeShawn Salter scored his second TD of the game with 7:36 left in the 2nd quarter to make the score 28-3. Fordham had two chances before half to climb back into the game but a missed FG and failed 4th down at the Yale 13 yard line resulted in zero points.

Up Next: The Rams begin league on the road against Lafayette. Fordham won 54-38 shootout against the Leopards last year in the Bronx.

Wagner 37 Lehigh 20

Wagner (2-3) added to Lehigh’s 2015 misery by notching an impressive 17 point win over the Mountain Hawks (0-5, 0-0) on a blustery night on Staten Island. The Lehigh “D” was gouged for the 5th straight game in the loss. The Seahawks racked up 249 yards on the ground and 205 through the air in the win. The Mountain Hawks rush defense, or lack there of, now ranks 120th (287 ypg allowed) out of 123 teams in FCS. The Lehigh offense was able to move the ball but Mayes’s (18-45 309 yards 0 TD 5 INT) 5 interceptions put a halt on too many scoring opportunities. The Mountain Hawks need to be virtually flawless on offense to overcome their historically bad defense. The pressure might have finally gotten to Mayes (who now ranks 1st in FCS in passing yards) given his uncharacteristically poor performance. The loss sent Lehigh to their second 0-5 start in the last 4 years.

For the first time all season Lehigh scored the opening points of the game. Dom Bragalone’s 26 yards TD run finished off a 5 play 83 yard drive that gave Lehigh an early 7-0 lead. As has been the case all year, the Lehigh defense allowed an opponent to go right down the field following a scoring drive. This time it took the Seawolves only 78 seconds to tie the game at 7. Lehigh would retake the lead with 10:43 left in the 2nd when Mayes scored on a 3 yard quarterback keeper. Wagner would respond with a FG and TD before half to take a narrow 17-14 lead into the locker room. The Seawolves took firm control of the game by scoring on their first two possessions of the second half

Up Next: Lehigh heads to the Central New York to take on Colgate in the Patriot League opener for teams. The Mountains Hawks beat the Raiders 45-31 last year.

Monmouth 35 Bucknell 13

Bucknell (2-3, 0-1) was the latest Patriot League team to try their luck against Monmouth (4-1) and come up woefully short. The Hawks were able to shut down Bucknell’s struggling offense in the dominating win. The Bison were held under 100 yards rushing for the fourth time in five games. Until the Bison can figure out a way to get the rushing attack (117th in FCS) going on a consistent basis they have almost no chance to beat the better teams on their schedule. DeFloria has 205 total yards rushing through 5 games after rushing for over 1,000 yards last year. Bucknell doesn’t have the firepower at the receiver position to be as one dimensional as they are. Matt Muh has played reasonably well at quarterback but he nor anyone else in the passing game is scaring anyone.

It took Monmouth little time to jump out to a 7-0 lead. Freshman RB Peter Guerriero’s six yard TD run finished off a 6 play 79 yard drive that gave the Hawks the lead with 12:16 remaining in the opening quarter. Bucknell had a chance to respond early in the 2nd quarter but a bad snap on a 31 yard FG attempt resulted in an interception on the scramble drill. Monmouth made the Bison pay by going 86 yards in 9 plays to take a 14-0 lead. Bucknell returned the favor a few minutes later following an interception of their own. John Chiarolanzio’s 3 yard TD toss to Marcus Ademilola closed the gap to 14-6 (blocked XP). It wouldn’t take Monmouth long to get the lead back to two possessions. Less than 2 minutes after Bucknell cut the Monmouth lead to 8 points, Vinny Grasso busted loose for a 39 TD run to push the Hawk advantage to 21-6. Monmouth put the game away with two 4+ minute touchdown drives in the 3rd quarter.

Up Next: Bucknell gets a much needed bye week to try and get the offensive line/rushing attack going. They finsh the out of conference portion of their sechedule October 14th against Cornell in Ithaca.

Power Rankings

  1. Colgate – More by default than by merit at this point. The win over Cornell was nice but a win over Lehigh would be much more important in the grand scheme of things.
  2. Holy Cross – The loss to Lafayette will leave the faithful in Worcester scratching their heads for years. They need to right the ship quickly to salvage a once promising season.
  3. Bucknell – They were outgunned outgunned Monmouth but have a bye week to recover.
  4. Fordham – The out of conference portion of the schedule was a disaster. However, a win over Lafayette would change the vibe in the Bronx.
  5. Lafayette – The Leopards pulled off arguably the biggest upset the league has seen this decade. Despite the win over Holy Cross they’re still underdogs against the Rams.
  6. Lehigh – At 0-5 the Mountain Hawks are FCS’s biggest disappointment. The defense remains a mess and the offense is starting to crack.
  7. Georgetown – The offensive is non-existent and the defense isn’t up to recent standards. Another win might be hard to come by.

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