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Patriot League: Week 6 Review and Power Rankings

Week 6 finally brought some much needed drama to the 2017 Patriot League season. The Colgate-Lehigh and Fordham-Lafayette games were filled with big plays and large swings in momentum before the outcomes were decided in the final seconds. Ultimately, Lafayette and Lehigh escaped with huge league wins. For the Leopards, it was their second thrilling win a row. Meanwhile, Lehigh’s victory over Colgate could be what propels the preseason league favorite to another title run. Lafayette and Lehigh meet for 153rd time on November 18th.

In non-conference action, things weren’t nearly as exciting. Monmouth used a 3rd quarter surge to race past Holy Cross 48-36. With the victory over the Crusaders, Monmouth went a perfect 4 for 4 against the Patriot League this season. Georgetown capped the ugliness by allowing Princeton to score 50 unanswered points in a 50-30 loss. The Hoyas scored the first 10 points and the last 20 points of the game but were M.I.A the rest of the time.

Lehigh 41 Colgate 38

Thanks to a slew of timely penalties that negated three Colgate (2-4, 0-1) touchdowns, Lehigh (1-5, 1-0) was able to escape Hamilton, NY with their first victory of the year. The first penalty took Owen Rockett’s 93 yard kickoff return touchdown off the board. Had it stood the Raiders likely take a commanding 35-21 lead into halftime. The other penalties wiped out two second half Grant Breneman touchdown passes. To throw salt in the wound, there was a costly unsportsmanlike penalty late in the game that erased a first down deep in Lehigh territory. Lehigh’s offense also added to the Raiders misery. Colgate simply could not slow down the Mountain Hawks balanced attack. After tallying a school record 9 sacks last week, the Raider defense managed only one against Lehigh. Colgate did outgain Lehigh overall, 537 yards to 507.

Lehigh got on the board first when Micco Brisker (7 rushes 34 yards 3 TDs) powered in from 2 yards out to give the Mountain Hawks a 7-0 lead with 8:34 remaining in the opening quarter. The Raiders tied it up 4 minutes later when Breneman (18-22 316 yards 2 TDs, 64 yards rushing 1 TD) connected with Brett Gasiorowski for a short 4 yard TD toss. Lehigh took a 14-7 lead late in 1st quarter before Colgate would respond with 3 straight touchdown drives in 2nd to go up 28-14. The Mountain Hawks were able to close to within 7 points at half thanks to a Brad Mayes (22-30 297 yards 2 TDs) to Dom Bragalone 35 yard touchdown pass. After half time Bragalone (25 carries 186 yards 1 TD) busted loose for a game tying 53 yard TD run. It would prove to be the only points of the 3rd quarter. Colgate retook the lead when Breneman connected with Tre Caine for a 66 yard TD strike early in the 4th quarter. Lehigh answered with a 7 play 75 yard TD drive to once again even the score. Colgate would take a brief 38-35 lead thanks to Chris Puzzi’s 27 yard FG. On the ensuing drive, Lehigh marched 75 yards in less than 2 minutes to notch what would end up being the game winning TD. Mayes hit Pelletier (8 rec 132 yards 1 TD) from 35 yards out for the score. Alex Mathew’s (27 carries 137 yards 2 TDs) fumble at the Lehigh 30 yard with 1:49 remaining in regulation is what ultimately sealed the Raiders fate.

Up Next: Lehigh returns to Goodman Stadium to take on Georgetown. The Mountain Hawks have never lost to the Hoyas in Patriot League competition. Colgate will look to bounce back against a floundering Fordham team. The Raiders upset the Rams 2 years ago at Andy Kerr on their way to the league championship.

Princeton 50 Georgetown 30

Georgetown (1-4, 0-0) had by far their best offensive output of the season but they still came up 20 points short against Princeton (3-1) on a hot October afternoon in Central New Jersey. The Hoyas entered their battle with the Tigers averaging 9.5 points a game. The good news is they managed to exceed that average during the first 8 minutes of action on Saturday. The bad news is the Tigers would proceed to score the game’s next 50 points! It was the Hoya’s third straight (Columbia, Harvard & Princeton) decisive loss to foes from the Ancient 8. The only real positive that can be taken away from this loss is the fact the team did not quit. As a result, the Hoya’s were able to put up 3 fourth quarter touchdowns to make the score a little more respectable.

The Hoyas went on a 75 yard, 12 play touchdown drive on their opening possession of the game to take a 7-0 lead a little less than 5 minutes into the game. Alex Valles’s 4 yard TD run finished off the impressive drive. Brad Hurst’s 36 yard FG at the 7:41 mark of the 1st quarter extended the Hoya advantage to 10-0. Following Hurst’s FG Princeton would put their foot down and take control of the game. Tiger quarterback Chad Kanoff got the party started with a 13 yard TD strike to the dangerous Jesper Horsted. Princeton’s defense would make their presence felt by notching a safety. Kurt Holuba and Mike Wagner worked together to sack Hoya QB Cole Norris (12-20 109 yards 1 INT) in the endzone for the 2 points. Princeton then took advantage of the extra offensive possession by going on a brisk 5 play 53 yard TD drive. Charlie Volker capped it with a 1 yard TD to give the Tigers a 17-10 lead (2pt conversion good) as time expired in the opening quarter. Kanoff’s second TD pass of the game at the 10:46 mark of the 2nd stanza extended the Tiger’s lead to 24-10. The backbreaker came less than a minute later when CJ Wall pick sixed Chad Norris’s pass to give Princeton a commanding 31-10 advantage. Following Norris’s interception Hoya head coach Rob Sgarlata gave sophomore quarterback Gunther Johnson (13-22 149 yards) the chance to finish out the game. While Johnson did some nice things he couldn’t prevent Princeton from blowing the game wide open.

Up Next: Georgetown travels to Bethlehem, PA to take on Lehigh. The Hoyas have never beaten (0-16) the Mountain Hawks in Patriot League play.

Monmouth 48 Holy Cross 36

Monmouth (4-1) completed the 4 game sweep of their Patriot League competition this season by taking down Holy Cross (2-4, 1-1) by 12 points in Worcester. The Hawks beat all four of their Patriot League opponents by double digits. Monmouth had this game well in hand before the Crusaders put up three 4th quarter touchdowns to make the score look more respectable. Peter Pujals set a school record for passing yards (509) in a single game in the loss. Holy Cross put up a staggering 640 total yards and 34 first downs yet came up on the losing end. The Crusaders have now lost 3 straight games since their dominating win over New Hampshire earned them a spot in the national rankings. If Holy Cross wants to get things turned around Coach Gilmore must find some consistency on offense and defense. Both units have been widely inconsistent the last 3 weeks which has led to the losing streak.

Holy Cross was able to take the early lead against Monmouth thanks to A.J. Wells’s 33 yard FG. The game would remain 3-0 until the 11:26 mark of the second quarter. That’s when Monmouth’s Eric Zokouri scored from a yard out to give the Hawks a 7-3 advantage. Monmouth would extend their lead to 14-3 on Kenji Bahar’s 13 yard touchdown pass to Reggie White Jr. Pujals’s 4 yard TD scamper with 1:23 left in the 2nd quarter before cut the Hawk lead to 14-10. Monmouth would respond with a crisp 7 play 78 yard touchdown drive in 62 seconds to push the score to 21-10. Holy Cross would get the ball back with 16 seconds left before half and instead of taking a knee Coach Gilmore opted to attack. It paid off when Pujals’s 49 yard Hail Mary ended up in the hands of Tenio Ayeni. For whatever reason, the Crusaders could not carry over the positive momentum into the second half. Instead, Monmouth would seize control of the game by outscoring Holy Cross 20-0 in the 3rd quarter.

Up Next: Holy Cross heads to New Haven, CT to battle Yale. Surprisingly, it will be the first meeting between the two New England schools since 2008.

Lafayette 14 Fordham 10

Lafayette (2-4, 2-0) scored their second head turning league win in a row by knocking out the staggering Fordham Rams (1-5, 0-1) 14-10 on perfect night for football in Eastern, PA. A week after suffocating Peter Pujals and the Holy Cross offense, the Leopard defense put forth another excellent performance against Fordham to pave the way for victory. The turnaround by Lafayette, especially on defense, is shocking when you consider just how bad they started the year in blowout losses to Monmouth, Villanova and Princeton. The “step down” in competition has certainly helped the Leopard’s cause but that’s not the only reason for the improvement. Brandon Bryant (13 solo tackles against Fordham) and the rest of the talented defense have started to live up to preseason expectations. If the offense (-5 total rushing yards) can improve just a modest amount, Lafayette might pull off the most shocking turnaround in league history. Meanwhile, Fordham’s mind boggling fall from grace continues with no real end in sight.

Stout defense and missed field goals by both teams led to a scoreless first quarter. Fordham was finally able to crack the code early in the 2nd quarter when Kevin Anderson (29-47 277 1 TD 1 INT) found Austin Longi for a 12 yard touchdown. The scoring opportunity was setup when Bryce Petty had a lengthy return following a blocked field goal. The Rams extended their lead to two possessions with 3:50 remaining in the 3rd quarter when Andrew Melvis’s 22 yard FG capped a marathon 18 play 86 yard drive that consumed over 9 minutes of game clock. Lafayette would then ride two O’Malley (29-41 256 yards 2 TDs) to Rocco Palumbo (9 rec 129 yards 2 TD) touchdown passes to a 14-10 lead. The go ahead 63 yard touchdown strike came with 5:06 remaining in regulation. Fordham had an excellent chance to regain the lead with a little over 3 minutes left but Anderson missed Longi on the same play on 3rd and 4th down at the Lafayette 10 yard line. Longi was especially wide open on the 4th down play when Anderson air mailed the pass. Fordham got one more chance but Anderson’s Hail Mary barely eluded a Ram receiver in the end zone.

Both Anderson and Edmonds (23 carries 78 yards) battled through injuries in the loss. Edmonds appeared to re-injure his ankle late in the game but continued to play. Anderson was fighting a hand or wrist injury.

Up Next: Lafayette travels to Cambridge to take on Harvard for their final out of conference game of the year. Fordham will be making the 4 hour trek to Hamilton, NY to take on Colgate in a de-facto league title elimination game.

Power Rankings

  1. Lafayette – At 2-0 the Leopards are amazingly in the driver’s seat in the league race. Still, a bad showing against a struggling Harvard team would not be a good look.
  2. Bucknell – The bye came at the right time. If the offense can get things going the Bison will be a major factor in the league race.
  3. Lehigh – They escaped Colgate with a win and now get Georgetown at home. Odds are they enter their bye with some much needed momentum.
  4. Colgate – The Raiders had their hearts ripped out by Lehigh (and the refs). They can’t afford a hangover with Fordham up next. Their season hangs in the balance.
  5. Holy Cross – The Crusaders are in complete free fall. It’s not likely to get any better against a very good Yale team on the road.
  6. Fordham – The offense is now bruised and battered which is likely the death knell for the Rams. Any chance to outscore their remaining opponents seems gone with Anderson and Edmonds nursing injuries.
  7. Georgetown – The Hoyas have major problems on both sides of the ball. Until they can find some explosive skill players on offense and difference makers on “D” the cellar is where they’ll remain.

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