Week 10 in the Patriot League was highlighted by Lehigh’s 20-13 win over Bucknell that punched the Mountain Hawks ticket to the FCS playoffs. After 7 straight double-digit wins, the Mountain Hawks needed contributions from all 3 phases to preserve the victory. Lehigh still needs to beat Lafayette to win the league outright. If they don’t, Fordham can still grab a share of the title by winning their final two games. The Rams are still alive thanks to a thrilling 24-20 win over Colgate. The win also kept Fordham in play for an at large bid into the playoffs. The other game of the weekend saw Holy Cross get a much needed win over struggling Georgetown. Senior WR Brandan Flaherty had a monster game in the Crusader win.
Fordham 24 Colgate 20
Fordham (6-3, 3-1) needed a spectacular late touchdown catch from WR Rob Cantelli to defeat Colgate (3-5, 2-2) 24-20 on a perfect November afternoon in the Bronx for football. The narrow win keeps the Ram’s playoff hopes alive for another week. Preseason Patriot League favorite Colgate will need to win their final two games just to finish .500 (10 game schedule). The Raiders run defense rose to the occasion (limited Edmonds to 73 yards on 21 carries) but their offense bogged down after their opening possession of the second half. QB Jake Melville struggles in the passing game (10-22 106 yards) continued in the loss. Meanwhile, Ram signal caller Kevin Anderson’s 3 TD passes led the offense on a day when Edmonds was held well below his per game average.
Fordham received the opening kickoff and started the game with a healthy dose of running to start the game. It was clear rookie head coach Andrew Breiner made it a point to test Colgate’s 4th ranked rush “D” by turning to the ground game on 7 of the first 9 plays of the game. The Rams eventually made it to Colgate’s 24 yard line before the drive ultimately stalled. On the 14th play, Makay Redd converted a 41 yard FG to give Fordham an early 3-0 lead with 9:51 left in the 1st quarter. Colgate would answer Fordham’s opening FG with a lengthy TD drive. Kenyon Washington’s 16 yard TD run finished off a 10 play 73 yard drive that took 4:30 off the clock.
Both teams would trade punts on their next possessions. On the final play of the 1st quarter Fordham’s Corey Caddle ripped off a 37 yard punt return that set the Ram offense up at Colgate’s 29 yard line. Colgate’s defense held until Coach Breiner elected to go for it on a 4th and 11 instead of trying another lengthy Redd FG. His gamble paid off as Anderson (27-42 263 yards) found Phazahn Odom crossing the field for a 30 yard TD that gave the Rams a 10-7 lead with 12:56 left in the 2nd quarter. The Ram (8 yards) and Raiders (9 yards) offenses would fail to mount any threat on their next two possessions. Colgate finally got things going with a little over 4 minutes left in the first half by turning to the ground game (7 rushes) again. Ultimately, Kenyon Washington’s (24 carries 123 yards 2 TDs) 42 yard TD run capped the 10 play 80 yard drive that gave Colgate a 14-10 lead with just under a minute left before half time.
The Raiders got the ball to start the second half and immediately pounded the rock. After two Washington runs that covered 17 yards Jake Melville (12 carries 124 yards) busted loose for a 63 yard TD that extended the Colgate lead to 20-10 (missed XP) with 13:42 left in the 3rd quarter. After four straight punts between the two teams, Fordham finally got their offense going on their third possession of the second half. Anderson would go 6 for 7 during a 12 play 77 yard TD drive the closed the Ram deficit to 3 points. Anderson’s sixth completion was a 14 yard TD strike to Robbi Contelli (5 rec 58 yards 2 TDs).
After a combination of a Fordham fumble and a Colgate failed 4th down attempt and traded punts the Rams would get the ball with 7:29 left in the 4th quarter still down 3 points. With Edmonds held in check by Colgate D, Anderson, with help from Robbi Contelli, once again picked up the slack. Kevin Anderson went 5-6 for 46 yards on the go ahead TD drive. The final 20 yard completion happened because Contelli made a ridiculous circus catch in the end zone with 4:55 left in the game. Colgate would mount one more charge but on 4th and 11 from the Ram 31 yard line Melville’s pass attempt fell harmlessly to ground with a little over a minute left effectively ending the game.
Up Next: Fordham takes the 6.6 mile trip to Yankee Stadium to play Holy Cross in a historic game for both teams. Ironically, the Rams will the road team. Colgate returns to the friendly confines of Andy Kerr Stadium to play Lafayette. The long term forecast suggests there might be some snow around.
Holy Cross 21 Georgetown 20
After two straight blowout losses, Holy Cross (4-6, 2-3) finally got back into the win column by “eeking” out a 1 point win over Georgetown (3-7, 0-4 in Washington D.C. Talented Sophomore QB Geoff Wade’s return gave the Crusader passing attack a much needed spark. Wade’s presence also coincided with Brandan Flaherty’s best game of the year (9 rec 196 yards). Flaherty’s 196 yards is the 5th highest single game receiving total in Crusader history. The explosive Flaherty’s season has been plagued by an early season injury and a revolving door at QB since Peter Pujals got hurt against Albany.
Georgetown had a great opportunity to end their six game losing streak but the offense once again was unable to come up with a big 4th quarter play. The Hoyas simply lack a consistent threat they can turn to in a crucial situation. The Hoyas can’t run the ball (65 yards total) and QB Clay Norris continues to throw costly interception. If Georgetown can find some play makers on offense for next year they have a defense in place to win games in the Patriot League moving forward.
Following a 3 and out by the Georgetown offense it looked like their defense would also be in for a long day. On first and 10 from their own 24 Wade (17-28 308 yards 1 TD 1 INT) found Flaherty for a 46 yard completion that quickly got the Crusaders into Hoya territory. Seven plays later, Domenic Cozier (6 carries 24 yards 2 TDs) snuck into the end zone from 2 yards out to give Holy Cross a 7-0 lead with 9:07 left in the 1st quarter. The lead would not last long! Georgetown’s Michael Dereus fielded the ensuing kickoff in his own end zone and took it 100+ yards to the house to tie the game at 7. Georgetown’s special teams have been excellent all season. They’re the main reason the Hoyas nearly upset Fordham two weeks ago.
After both teams traded punts, Wade and Flaherty connected for another huge play on first down. This time it was an 80 yard completion that setup the Crusaders at the Hoya 4. Wade’s fumble on 2nd down nearly ended the threat but he was able to pounce back on the ball. On the next play he made amends for the mistake by hitting Martin Dorsey for a 6 yard TD that gave Holy Cross a 14-7 lead with 3:32 left in the first quarter. Georgetown responded with a 46 yard Henry Darmstadter FG to cut the Holy Cross lead to 4 points early in the 2nd quarter. Holy Cross would match the Hoya FG with their third TD of game with 8:44 left in the first half. Cozier found pay dirt from 5 yards out to cap a brisk 5 play 79 yard drive that took less than 2 minutes off the clock. Down 21-10, Georgetown put together their best series of the game. Clay Norris rushed (14 carries 54 yards) the ball 5 times and completed 3 passes (25-37 185 yards 2 INTs) during a 13 play 72 yard TD drive that lasted nearly 6 minutes. Alex Valles (12 carries 29 yards 1 TD) finished it off with a 4 yard run into the end zone. A Holy Cross turnover and Hoya punt would close out the first half.
The second half would be dominated by both defenses except for Georgetown’s first possession of the second half. The Hoya offense would make it to the Crusader 31 yard line before fizzling out. Instead of going for a 4th and 7, Coach Sgarlata sent Darmstadter out for another long FG. His confidence in his kicker paid off as Darmstadter successfully booted a 49 yarder to make the score 21-20 with 7:25 left in the 3rd quarter. Midway through the 4th quarter Holy Cross would get to the Hoya 25 yard line after a long Wieczorek punt return but a missed FG kept the score 21-20 with 6:08 left in the game. Georgetown would have two more opportunities on offense to take the lead but both possessions ended in interceptions.
Up Next: Holy Cross heads to the Big Apple to take on Fordham at Yankee Stadium in a game that’s being billed as the “Ram-Crusader Cup”. Despite “The House that Steinbrenner Built” being 165 miles from Fitton Field, the Crusaders will be the home team. Georgetown takes the 3 hour bus ride up to Central Pennsylvania to take on Bucknell.
#20 Lehigh 20 Bucknell 13
The Lehigh (8-2, 5-0) offense produced all the headlines during the Mountain Hawks 7 game winning streak yet it was their defense that made the difference in their title clinching win over Bucknell (3-6, 2-2). The once maligned Brown and White defense came up with two huge second half interceptions and a 4th down sack late in the game to preserve the victory. The win secures Lehigh’s first playoff appearance since 2011. That year the Mountain Hawks received a bye before taking down CAA champion Towson 40-38. Lehigh then advanced to the quarterfinals where they ultimately fell to eventual national champion North Dakota State. Lehigh still needs to beat rival Lafayette in two weeks to win the outright Patriot League title.
Bucknell also entered the game with a shot the Patriot League title and the Bison, especially their defense, played like it. It didn’t take long for the Orange and Blue “D” to make their first statement of the game. Lehigh received the opening kickoff and put together a promising drive before the Bucknell defense made a huge stop on 4th and 6 at their own 36 yard line. The Bison offense capitalized on the momentum. Joey DeFloria (28 carries 120 yards 1 TD) rushed 7 times for 35 yards as Bucknell marched 10 plays in 6 yards to take an early 7- 0 lead. Defloria’s 7 yard TD run capped the impressive drive for Bison. Lehigh would get back to work once they got they touched the ball for a second time. Nick Shafnisky (18-37 264 yards 1 TD) hit Trevor Socarras for 31 yards on 3rd and 11 to extend the drive. A few plays later Shafnisky bullied his way into the end zone from 1 yard out to tie the game at 7 with 1:56 left in the 1st quarter.
The Bison offense would get things rolling again on their next possession before Lehigh’s defense stiffened inside the 10. Bucknell would have to settle for a 26 yard FG which John Burdick missed wide right. Following a Lehigh punt, the Bison offense put together their 3rd straight impressive drive of the game by using a nice balance of run and pass. Bruising freshman RB Chad Freshnock finished it off with an 11 yard TD run to give Bucknell a 13-7 lead (missed XP) with 8:30 left in the first half. The Bucknell defense would limit Lehigh to 6 yards on their final 3 possessions of the half to maintain a 13-7 lead as the two teams headed to the locker room.
After the Lehigh defense forced a Bison 3 and out to start the second half the Mountain Hawks finally got things going again on “O”. Lehigh managed to reach the Bucknell 12 yard line before Abdullah Anderson (2.0 sacks on the day) sacked Nick Shafnisky for an 8 yard loss on 3rd down to force a FG. Lehigh kicker Ed Mish came through on the 37 yard FG attempt to cut the Bison lead to 13-10 with 9:03 left in the 3rd quarter. Following another Bison punt, Shafnisky and Co. got things rolling again. This time the senior QB found Gatlin Casey (7 rec 71 yards 1 TD) for a 9 yard TD with 1:46 left in the 3rd quarter to give Lehigh their first lead (17-13) of the game. The Lehigh defense would come up with a huge play on Bucknell’s ensuing possession. Mountain Hawk LB Pierce Rippanti tipped R.J. Nitti’s 1st down pass in the air and was able to catch it for a huge interception deep in Bison territory. Lehigh would get to the Bucknell 3 yard line before having to settle for an Ed Mish 20 yard chip shot FG with 21 seconds left in the 3rd quarter.
Following the Lehigh FG, Bucknell would go on an epic 17 play drive that took over 9 minutes off the clock. Unfortunately for the Bison, it would not result in any points. Lehigh’s Donovan Harris pulled a Malcom Butler and beat the Bucknell WR to spot for a huge drive ending interception at the goal line. It looked like Lehigh would put the final nail in the Bison coffin when Shafnisky hit a streaking Troy Pelletier (8 rec 110 yards) for 39 yards to get the down to the Bucknell 34 yard line. However, on the very next play Shafnisky and Dominic Bragalone’s fumbled handoff ended up in the hands of Bucknell’s Troy Glenn to give the Bison one last chance with 3:36 left in the game. After a couple of Bison first downs the Lehigh defense stepped up. On 4th and 13 Lehigh’s Pierce Rippanti stormed off the edge and sacked Nitti (17-26 228 yards 2 INTs) to end Bucknell’s dream of the upset.
Up Next: Lehigh gets to celebrate their trip to the FCS playoffs for an extra week as the Mountain Hawks have a week 11 by before venturing to Easton to face rival Lafayette for the 152nd time. Bucknell returns home to face stumbling Georgetown.
- Holy Cross