Patriot League: Week 8 Review and Power Rankings

Week 8 in the Patriot League saw Lehigh and Fordham get key conference wins to set up their showdown next week in Bethlehem. The Mountain Hawks posted an impressive road win over Holy Cross to run their winning streak to 6 games. Fordham overcame injuries and a key suspension to pull out a grinding 17-14 win over Georgetown. Edmonds had another excellent game in the “W”.  The final game of the weekend was highlighted by Bucknell’s dominating 4th quarter  that allowed the Orange and Blue to pull away from Lafayette on homecoming in Lewisburg. The win kept the Bison’s league title dreams alive.

#23 Lehigh 46 Holy Cross 14

Lehigh (6-2, 3-0) secured their 5th winning season in 6 years with an impressive 32 point win over Holy Cross (3-5, 1-2) in Worcester. The Mountain Hawks once again turned to backup QB Brad Mayes (20-30 287 yards 3 TDs) to lead the way on a windy, rainy New England afternoon. The sophomore signal caller put forth another great performance in the victory. The Crusaders had to dig a little deeper on the depth chart for their starting QB. Third stringer Blaise Bell (14-27 157 yards 3 INTs) was surprisingly pressed into the starting role when Geoff Wade was unable to go due to a calf injury he suffered against Harvard last week. The game started well for Bell and Co. but things would spiral downhill rather quickly.

Holy Cross received the opening kickoff and promptly went on a 6 play 75 yard TD drive. Bell’s 38 yard completion to Jake Wieczorek (4 rec 76 yards) was the key play of the drive. Fellow WR Brandon Flaherty (5 rushes 18 yards 1 TD, 5 rec 15 yards) finished off the drive with a 5 yard TD scamper. The Crusaders would not be able to capitalize on the early momentum. After the two teams traded punts Lehigh’s offense got things rolling. Dominic Bragalone (17 carries 182 yards 2 TDs) carried the ball 4 out of 5 plays on a 56 yard TD drive that lasted less than 90 seconds. Following the TD drive the Lehigh defense would really assert itself. Of the Crusaders five remaining first half possessions, 4 would end in punts while the other resulted in a Bell interception.

Lehigh would get things going again early in the 2nd quarter. The Mountain Hawks put together an impressive 11 play 81 yard TD drive that pushed them into the lead for the first time. RB Micco Brisker capped the drive with a 1 yard plunge. After a bobbled snap on the point after attempt Mountain Hawk QB Nick Shafnisky found defensive lineman Tyler Cavenas for a 2 point conversion which gave Lehigh a 15-7 lead with a little over 10 minutes left in the first half. The Mountains Hawk would tack on a 34 yards Ed Mish FG in the first half to take an 18-7 lead into the locker room.

Lehigh would take firm control of the game on their opening possession of the second half with an efficient 7 play 75 yard TD drive. Mayes got his first passing TD of the day when he found Gatlin Casey (6 rec 94 yards 1 TD) on a short 2 yard crossing pattern to extend Lehigh’s lead to 25-7. Following a quick Crusader 3 and out Lehigh added another nail in coffin when Dominic Bragalone busted through the line and went 66 yards untouched into the end zone to give Lehigh a commanding 32-7 lead with 11:14 left in the 3rd quarter. Mayes would connect with Troy Pelletier (9 rec 70 yards 2 TDs) for two short touchdowns to close out the scoring for Lehigh. Holy Cross would add a late Domenic Cozier (17 rushes 59 yards 1 TD) TD run.

Up Next: Lehigh welcomes Fordham to Goodman Stadium for a huge game that will have league and national ramifications. Holy Cross ventures to the almost frozen tundra of Hamilton, NY to take on Colgate.

Fordham 17 Georgetown 14

Fordham (5-2, 2-0) was able to survive the suspension of starting QB Kevin Anderson and numerous mistakes to sneak by upset minded Georgetown (3-4, 0-2) by 3 points. Luke Medlock (12-21 95 yards 2 TDs 1 INT) got the start for the Rams but was forced to leave the game in the 3rd quarter with an injury. Fordham then had to turn to 3rd stringer Colton Smith (1-2 6 yards) to close out the win in crunch time. The one asset the Rams did have on a chilly day in the Bronx was Chase Edmonds. The junior RB’s 179 yards allowed him to surpass Kirwin Watson in the record books to become the all-time leading rusher in Fordham history. Georgetown could have used some of Edmonds yards themselves. The Hoyas finished with -2 total rushing yards for the game. Like Fordham, Georgetown turned to a 3rd string QB in the second half.

There was little indication this would turn out to be a low scoring slugfest based on the start of the game. Ram backup QB Luke Medlock led Fordham on a very impressive 13 play 85 yard TD drive on their opening possession of the game. Medlock notched his first collegiate TD pass when found Robbi Cantelli (2 rec 40 yards 2 TDs) from 3 yards out to give Fordham a 7-0 lead with a little over 10 minutes left in the first quarter. The Rams offense got things going again after Jihaad Pretlow intercepted Clay Norris (6-15 112 yards 1 TD 3 INTs) and returned the ball to the Hoya 42. Medlock connected with Cantelli again, this time from 37 yards out, to give Fordham a 14-0 lead with 4:04 left in the opening quarter. Just when it looked like the Rams were going to win going away the Hoyas changed the complexion of the game with one play. One 1st and 10 from their own 41, Clay Norris hit a streaking Brand Williams for a 59 yard TD strike to draw the Hoyas to within 7.

Georgetown’s special teams would step up with a huge blocked punt deep in Fordham territory early in the second quarter. It wasn’t easy but six plays later Hoya RB Isaa Ellsworth found pay dirt from a yard out to tie the game at 14 with 11:27 left before half time. Fordham fumbled the ensuing kickoff but the Hoyas were unable to take advantage. Clay Norris’s 3rd down pass was picked off Antoni Jackson at the Ram 14 yard line to squash the Hoya’s momentum. The rest of the first half would see both teams continue to make ugly mistakes. The only scoring threat came when Makay Redd missed a 48 yard FG.

The third quarter was plagued by quarterback changes and more turnovers. Following Clay Norris’s interception on Georgetown’s opening possession of the second half head coach Rob Sgarlta turned to Brock Johnson (8-14 57 yards 2 INTs). Fordham’s Luke Medlock was forced to leave the game with an injury when he was strip sacked by Phil Novacki midway through the quarter. The Hoyas had 44 total yards in quarter while Fordham could only muster up 17.

The Rams finally put together a promising drive to start the 4th quarter. Fordham would rush the ball 9 straight times to get to a 4th and 1 at the Hoya 1 yard line. Rookie Ram head coach Andrew Breiner elected to go for it but on the 10th play of the drive Edmonds was stuffed by the Georgetown front 7. Georgetown would get the ball out of harm’s way before Johnson was intercepted Caleb Ham. Ham returned the pick to Hoya 28 yard line. The Rams would get the ball inside the 10 before the Hoya defense once against stiffened. Faced with another 4th and short, Breiner elected to send in Redd for a chip shot FG. Redd knocked it through to give Fordham a 17-14 lead with a 3:03 left in regulation. Georgetown would get one last chance to tie or win the game but Johnson threw his second pick of the game to end the Hoya’s upset bid.

Up Next: Fordham travels to Lehigh for what should be the Patriot League game of the year. The Rams have won the last 3 meetings against the Mountain Hawks. Georgetown heads to Easton, PA to take on a struggling Lafayette team.

Bucknell 42 Lafayette 17

The Bison (3-4, 2-1) put forth an impressive display on homecoming en route to a 42-17 over Lafayette (1-7, 0-3). R.J. Ritti returned at quarterback for Bucknell. The senior field general had not seen game action since he sustained an injury against Duquesne on September 10th. Nitti’s numbers weren’t Heisman worthy (8-18 90 yards 1 TD 1 INT) but his experience and leadership certainly helped the Bison in the victory. Nitti and the rest of the Bucknell offense benefited from another big game from Joey DeFloria (27 carries 130 yards 1 TD). The junior RB is making a strong case for 1st team all-league honors. Fordham’s Chase Edmonds already has the one spot wrapped up. Talented WR Will Carter also had a solid game. The school record holder in receiving yards added 2 rushing TD’s in the win.

The game started with both teams trading punts on their first possessions. Lafayette got their offense going the second time they touched the ball. The Leopards were able to put together a solid 10 play 62 yard drive that ended with a Jacob Bissell 25 yard chip FG. Following their third straight 3 and out of the game Bucknell’s offense finally awoken. Will Carter capped a 3 play 43 yard drive with a 17 yard TD run off of a jet sweep to give Bucknell a 7-3 lead with a little over 1 minute left in the first quarter. The Bison extended their lead the next time they touched the ball. This time it was Nitti finding TE Andrew Podbielski for a 9 yard TD midway through the 2nd quarter.

The Bison got to work on their first possession of the second half with an impressive 9 play 75 yard drive. Will Carter finished it off with his second TD on a jet sweep. Now trailing 21-3, the Lafayette offense finally found their groove. Drew Reed (12-21 167 yards 1 TD 1 INT) hit a streaking Joey Chenoweth for a 65 yard TD on the Leopards first play from scrimmage in the second half to cut the Bison lead to 21-10. The Lafayette defense would step up with an interception on Bucknell’s next possession. The offense took advantage of the excellent field position by notching their second TD in a 90 second span. RB Mike Dunn found the end zone from 18 yards out to draw the Leopards to within 4 points. The score would remain 21-17 heading into the 4th quarter.

Bucknell made sure Lafayette would not complete the comeback during the final 15 minutes of the game. The Bison opened up the 4th quarter with an impressive 8 play 76 yard TD drive to push their lead back to 11 points. Chad Freshnock (18 carries 81 yards 2 TDs) ended the drive by bulldozing his way into the end zone from 1 yard out. The Bucknell defense would keep the momentum going. Brett Berg intercepted Drew Reed and returned the ball to the Leopard 24 yard line. The Bison would take advantage of turnover 2 plays later on DeFloria’s short 4 yard TD run to extend the lead to 35-17. Freshnock scored his second TD of the game with 4:04 left in 4th quarter to finish off an impressive final quarter by the Bucknell.

Up Next: The Bison head south for a late season out of conference game against Top 15 Charleston Southern. Lafayette will try to end their 7 game losing streak against Georgetown in the friendly confines of Fisher Field. 

Power Rankings

  1. Lehigh
  2. Fordham
  3. Colgate
  4. Bucknell
  5. Holy Cross
  6. Georgetown
  7. Lafayette

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