As the final month of the regular season is set to begin there’s no question who the best team in the league is. Colgate is dominating their competition while everyone else is struggling to find some semblance of consistency. Bucknell was the latest victim to feel the Raider’s wrath. If the league wants to send the best representative to playoffs they need Colgate to get home help. Based on how things have played out to this point they’re likely going to the gift they need.
In other week 9 action Fordham (against Lehigh) and Holy Cross (Georgetown) both ended 5 game losing streaks. The Mountain Hawk’s defense and the Hoya’s offense once against greatly contributed to each team’s demise.
Colgate 40 Bucknell 3
Colgate (5-4, 3-1) used a dominating first half to slam the door on Bucknell’s Patriot League title hopes while keeping their own alive. The Raiders have won their last 3 league games by an average score of 41-7 since their crushing loss to Lehigh in early October. Colgate Head Coach Dan Hunt easily has his team playing the best football in the league right now. That combined with Lehigh’s loss to Fordham over the weekend has really opened the door for Colgate. With games left against Lafayette and Georgetown the Raiders are in prime position to grab at least a share of the league title and are still in the mix for the automatic playoff bid.
Bucknell (4-4, 1-2) still has quite a bit to play for even though the league title is almost certainly out of the question. With games remaining against Lehigh, Fordham and Georgetown the Bison have 3 golden opportunities to notch wins and finish the 2017 season with a really solid 7-4 record. In order for Bucknell to make that happen the offense must improve, and improve dramatically. Not only has the offensive line struggled all season but now there seems to be some debate as to who the quarterback will be moving forward after the Colgate loss. Veteran Matt Muh (11-23 133 yards) replaced the bumbling John Chiarolanzio (5-10 37 yards 2 INTs) and could get the start against Lehigh. Muh saw significant time in 2016 in relief of then starter R.J. Nitti.
One quarterback in the Patriot League that is not struggling is Colgate’s Grant Breneman. The freshman signal caller is making a strong push for 1st Team All-Patriot League Honors with his play in recent weeks. Breneman (13-18 177 yards 3 TDs 1 INT, 17 rushes 76 yards 1 TD) led the Raiders on a 7 play, 75 yard TD (missed XP) drive on their first possession of the game. Colgate RB James Holland (18 carries 104 yards 1 TD) capped the drive with a 13 yard scamper into the endzone. Bucknell was able to cut the Colgate lead to 3 points late in the 1st quarter on John Burdick’s 28 yard chip-shot field goal. The Raiders responded with a grinding 10 play 75 yard drive that ended with a Breneman 12 yard TD pass to Thomas Ives. On Bucknell’s ensuing possession Chiarolanzio threw a pick on the first play from scrimmage which set the Raiders offense up in prime territory. For the second straight drive Breneman and Ives (4 rec 82 yards 2 TDs) made the Bison pay. This time the two hooked up for a 20 yard TD pass to stretch the Raider lead to 20-3. Brenaman would account for two more 2nd quarter touchdowns to give Colgate a commanding 33-3 halftime lead.
Up Next: Bucknell returns to the friendly confines of Christy Mathewson Stadium to host Lehigh on Homecoming. Colgate heads into their bye week on roll. The Raiders host Lafayette on November 11th.
Fordham 45 Lehigh 35
Fordham (3-5, 1-2) won the turnover battle 4-0 and racked up 544 total yards in a 10 point win over Lehigh. The Rams hadn’t scored more than 12 points in their 3 previous games but were able to capitalize on the Mountain Hawk’s horrific defense to break out of their slump. Leading Fordham’s charge was 4th string running back D’Angelo Palladino who rushed for an eye popping 297 yards and 3 TDs. Palladino’s 48 yard TD dash up the middle with 2:24 left in the 4th quarter clinched the game for Fordham. Despite giving up yards in bunches, the Ram defense made several critical plays in key situations. They forced two huge turnovers inside their own 10 yard line which proved to be the difference in the game. Chase Edmonds missed the game due his nagging ankle injury and remains 8 yards shy of the All-Time Patriot League rushing record.
Between turnovers and a terrible defense Lehigh (2-6, 2-1) greatly contributed to their own demise. Coming off the bye week Coach Coen seemed optimistic about the “D’s” ability to improve for the stretch run of the season. As it turned out Palladino was just the latest unheralded skill position player to torch the Mountain Hawk defense. His outburst and Mayes questionable decision making really hurt Lehigh’s chances to remain undefeated in league play. The only real positive for Lehigh in the loss was Dom Bragalone. The junior running back had the best game (27 carries 218 yards 1 TD, 6 rec 79 yards 1 TD) of well decorated career. Despite being guaranteed of a losing record in regular season, Lehigh still controls their own destiny in the Patriot League race. However, with a defense THIS bad and Mayes propensity to make bad decisions it’s hard imagine the Brown & White finishing with 3 straight wins.
As has been the case all season, it did not take long for Lehigh to find itself in a hole. Fordham opened the game with a 4 play, 66 yard TD drive to take an early 7-0 lead. Kevin Anderson (17-26 244 yards 3 TDs) connected with Noah Nix (6 rec 75 yards 1 TD) for a 15 yard TD to finish off the possession. It would take Lehigh 45 seconds to tie it up. Brad Mayes (20-39 3 TDs, 2 INTs) hit a streaking Jorge Portorreal for a 56 yard TD to even the score. The two teams would trade scores until the late in the 3rd quarter. That’s when Anderson hit Isaiah Searight (8 rec 139 yards 2 TDs) from 6 yards out for a TD to give the Rams a 28-21 lead. On the first play of Lehigh’s ensuing possession Mayes was intercepted by Taylor Ellis which led to a 29 yard Andrew Melvis FG and 31-21 lead. Each team would score two 4th touchdowns and the final margin remained at 10 points.
Lehigh TE Drew Paulsen was taken off the field in an ambulance late in the 4th quarter and was immediately taken to a local New York City hospital. After evaluation it was determined Paulsen suffered a severe concussion. His status for the rest of the season remains in question.
Up Next: Fordham welcomes Holy Cross to the Bronx as the Rams try to keep the positive mojo rolling. Lehigh heads to Central Pennsylvania to tangle with Bucknell.
Holy Cross 24 Georgetown 10
Holy Cross (3-6, 2-2) used a strong defensive effort to score a 14 point win over Georgetown. The victory was Brian Rock’s first as interim head coach and halted the Crusaders 5 game losing streak that dated back to September 16th. Holy Cross defense limited the Hoyas to zero yards rushing and 181 total yards in the “W”. While Georgetown offense has had serious issues all season, Rock has to be happy to see his “D” really put the clamps on after struggling mightily the three previous weeks. Peter Pujals, who was coming off of two straight poor outings himself, also bounced back with a very effective performance (25-38 257 yards).
Georgetown (1-7, 0-3) has now lost 12 straight Patriot League games dating back to a 17-9 win over Bucknell on October 24th 2015. The Hoyas offense continues to spin its wheels, especially the rushing attack (121st in FCS, 48 ypg). If the Hoyas can’t figure out their offensive woes the conference losing streak has the potential to carry into next season. The one saving grace for Georgetown is the fact that offensively challenged Bucknell and Lafayette are coming up. So on paper there’s two chances to win a low scoring scrum.
Against Holy Cross, the Hoyas did jump out to the lead in the 1st quarter. Brad Hurst’s short 24 yard field goal give Georgetown a 3-0 lead with 3:02 remaining in the opening quarter. Unfortunately for the Hoyas the 2nd quarter came. Gabe Guild’s 1 yard TD plunge with 12:15 left before half gave the Crusaders a 7-3 lead. Jackson McLarty then tacked on two field goals (29 & 31 yards) to give Holy Cross a 13-3 half time lead. Both defenses dominated the majority of the 3rdquarter. The only scoring came on Gunther Johnson’s 14 yard touchdown pass to Tommy Jessen with 12 seconds left in the quarter. The TD made the score 13-10 Holy Cross. That would be the closest the Hoys got the rest of the game. McLarty added a 3rd field goal and then Pujals tacked on a 1 yard TD (2pt try good) with 6:24 left in regulation to extend the Crusader lead to 14 points. The Hoyas final two possessions on offense would end on downs.
Up Next: Holy Cross heads to the Big Apple to take on Fordham. The Crusaders will be looking to avenge last year’s embarrassing loss to Fordham at Yankee Stadium. Georgetown returns home to face Lafayette. The Hoyas trounced the Leopards 38-7 the last time the two met in D.C.
- Colgate – The Raiders are steamrolling teams right now. There’s no question the best football in the Patriot League is being played in Hamilton, NY.
- Bucknell – The Bison, like Holy Cross and Fordham, took it on the chin against Colgate. Still, the Bison have a great chance to win out and finish 7-4.
- Lafayette – If the Leopards win out they will earn at least a share of the Patriot League title. Hopefully they utilized the bye to work on the defense.
- Fordham – Fordham played their best game of the year against Lehigh. The weapons are still there for the Rams to win out.
- Lehigh – The defense is a complete disaster and the offense continues to make crucial mistakes. Yet, if they win out they’re headed to the FCS Playoffs. Odds say they don’t and the season ends in bitter disappointment.
- Holy Cross – They got a much needed win over Georgetown. Now the Crusaders face a much bigger challenge, Fordham in the Bronx.
- Georgetown – If you can’t score you can’t win. That’s the predicament Coach Sgarlatta finds his team in as November dawns. Will they break their 12 game conference streak this season?