Patriot League: Week 9 Review and Power Rankings

Week 9 in the Patriot League was highlighted by Lehigh’s impressive win over Fordham. The Mountain Hawks used a dominating rushing attack to move one step closer to their first league title since 2011. Lehigh needs to beat either Bucknell or Lafayette to secure the automatic bid into the FCS playoffs. Defending league champion Colgate kept their hopes of at least a share of the title alive with a workman like 26-8 win over reeling Holy Cross. While Georgetown and Lafayette had no bearing on the title race, the Leopards 17-3 win had to have felt good in Easton. The “W” snapped Lafayette’s 7 game losing streak. The only non-conference game of the weekend saw Bucknell put up a good fight for 3 quarters in a loss to 10th ranked Charleston Southern.

#10 Charleston Southern 49 Bucknell 28

Bucknell (3-5, 2-1) put forth a solid effort against 10th ranked Charleston Southern (5-2) but it wasn’t enough to notch their first win over a ranked team in 3 years. The Buccaneers used their powerful running game and big play passing attack (19.5 yard per completion) to pull away from the Bison in the second half to win their 4th game in a row. Bucknell trailed by only 7 points midway through the 3rd quarter but the Blue and Orange couldn’t get the Charleston Southern’s offense off the field in key spots over the final 20+ minutes of the game. The 548 yards the Buccaneers amassed on offense was the most the Bison defense had given up all season.

The Bison meanwhile showed flashes on offense but couldn’t consistently move the ball well enough to pull the upset. After notching his 4th 100 yard game of the year in last week’s win over Lafayette, talented Bucknell RB Joey DeFloria was limited to 48 yards on 16 carries. Record breaking WR Tim Carter (2 TDs last vs Lafayette) unexpectedly missed the game with undisclosed injury.

It certainly didn’t look like the Bison offense would struggle based on the way they started the game. Bucknell received the opening kickoff and promptly put together an impressive 9 play 66 yard TD drive. R.J. Nitti (18-29 154 yards 2 TDs 1 INT) found Jack Horn on a short 10 yard TD toss to give the Bison q 7-0 lead less than 4 minutes into the game. The Buccaneers wasted very little time coming up with an answer. After two 7 yard runs and an 11 yard completion, Buccaneer QB Shane Bucenell (9-16 172 3 TDs 1 INT) connected with Saire Davis (3 rec 99 yards 2 TDs) for a beautiful 59 TD to tie the game up at 7 with a little over 10 minutes left in the first quarter.

After both teams traded punts the Buccaneers would put together the drive of the day. After Bucknell pinned Charleston Southern at their own 1 with a perfectly executed punt, the Bucs went on a 12 play 99 yard TD drive to take their first lead (14-7) of the game early in the 2nd quarter. Following a quick Bison 3 and out the Bucs offense would get back to business with 9 play 80 yard TD drive that was capped off when Bucenell hit Kameron Brown from 13 yards out. The Bucknell defense was able to come up with a key interception on CSU’s next possession which gave Nitti and Co. the ball at the Buc’s 40 yard line. The Bison were able to take advantage of the great field position a few plays later when Nitti tossed a 3 yard TD pass Andrew Owers with just under a minute left in the first half.

Charleston Southern would retake a two possession lead on their first series of the second half. Third string QB London Johnson’s 5 yard TD run finished off a 12 play 65 yard drive that took nearly 5 minutes off the clock. Johnson would fumble the ball at the Bucs two yard line the next time CSU touched the ball. The Bison capitalized on the gift when Chad Freshnock (16 carries 37 yards 2 TDs) plowed into the end zone to cut the Buc lead to 28-21 with 7:27 left in the 3rd quarter. Johnson would make up for the mistake on CSU’s next drive when he hit Saire Davis for 32 yard TD to stretch the lead to 35-21. After a Bucknell 3 and out Charleston Southern seized control of the game late in the 3rd quarter on Johnson’s second TD run of the game. Both teams would tack on fourth quarter scores.

Up Next: Bucknell travels to Bethlehem to take on 1st place Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks defeated the Bison 21-10 last season.

Lafayette 17 Georgetown 3

Lafayette (2-7, 1-3) earned their first Patriot League in nearly two years with a 14 point win over visiting Georgetown (3-5, 0-3). The Leopards had their best rushing output (149 yards) of the year in the victory. Sophomore RB Tyler West led the way with a career high 117 yards on 15 carries. The Lafayette defense also stepped up with their best performance of year in the win. They were able to hold the Hoya’s to a scant 40 rushing yards on 26 attempts. Georgetown didn’t find too much success through the air (133 yards) either. With a trip to Hamilton, NY to face Colgate and the rival Lehigh on tap to finish out the year this was a much needed win for the head coach Frank Tavani and the entire Lafayette program.

The game got off to a slow start for both Lafayette and Georgetown. They combined for 38 total yards and 4 punts on each of their first two possessions of the game. The Leopards were finally able to get their offense going on their third possession. QB Drew Reed (18-28 245 yards, 1 TD rushing) hit Joey Chenowith (4 rec 57 yards) for a 37 yard gain on first down to set the Leopards up at the Hoya 14 yard line. Georgetown’s defense would ultimately stiffen which would force Lafayette to settle for a 28 yard Jacob Bissell FG with 2:58 left in the 1nd quarter. Following a blocked punt the Hoya’s offense would finally emerge from their slumber early in the 2nd quarter with a 6 play 36 yard drive that ended with Henry Darmstadter’s game tying 26 yard FG. Both teams would fail to mount a scoring threat the rest of the first half.

After Lafayette and Georgetown traded punts on their first possessions of the second half the Leopards put together their best series of the game. Reed would go 5-5 during a 9 play 80 yard TD drive that culminated with his 1 yard QB sneak. The Lafayette defense would step up on the ensuing Hoya drive. Draeland James intercepted Brock Johnson’s (12-23 107 yards 1 INT) pass at the Hoya 32 and returned it to the 23 to put the Leopards back in business. Tyler West would eat up the 23 yards on two rushes to extend the Layette lead to 17-3 with 3:36 left in the 3rd quarter.

The Lafayette defense would hunker down and take control of the remainder of the game. The Hoya’s would gain a whopping 3 total yards on their three next drives. Georgetown would have one last gasp attempt at comeback with under 5 minutes left in the game but the drive would end on downs at the Lafayette 28 yard line. The Leopards would then run out the clock to preserve the win.

Jerry Powe led the Leopard defense with 9 solo tackles including 2 sacks.

Up Next: Lafayette will get savior their victory for an extra week as they head into a late season bye before traveling to Colgate for a November 12th battle. The Leopards fell to ‘Gate 28-19 last year. Georgetown hosts bumbling Holy Cross next weekend in D.C. The Crusaders pounded the Hoyas 45-7 in last year’s season finale.

Colgate 26 Holy Cross 8

Colgate (3-4, 2-1) took advantage of a struggling Holy Cross (3-6, 1-3) offense to post back to back wins for the first time this season. The Raiders were coming off a much needed bye after playing 5 out of their first 6 games on the road. While Colgate might have been fresh they certainly looked rusty for much of game. Thankfully for the Raiders, the Crusaders issues at quarterback have reached a near catastrophic level. Geoff Wade was forced to miss his second game in a row with a calf injury which meant the revolving door of Blaise Bell (15-22 87 yards 1 INT) and Clifford Emmett (8-17 93 yards 1 TD) were called upon to lead the way. Both QBs struggled mightily in the loss.

Both teams started the game with a couple of first downs on their first possessions before being forced to punt. Colgate’s offense got things going on their second possession of the game but a fumble at the Holy Cross 6 yard line following a Jake Melville (13-28 225 yards 2 INTS, 15 rushes 90 yards 1 TD) to Martinsen completion ended the threat. The Raider defense would step up with a huge play to gain the momentum back. On first down at their own 6, Blaise Bell was stripped sacked in the end zone. Colgate’s Pat Afriyie proceeded to pounce on the ball for an easy Raider TD with 6:16 remaining in the opening quarter.

Following the Colgate TD both teams would struggle with execution and turnovers. Colgate had a promising drive end when they turned the ball over for a second time (Luke Ford interception of Melville) inside the Holy Cross 10 with a just under 11 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. Colgate would get the ball back a few plays later when Blaise Bell was picked off by Christian Hardegree at Holy Cross 38 yard line. But, the onslaught of turnovers would continue as a Melville fumble gave the ball back to the Crusaders with 8:30 left in the half. Holy Cross’s offense would go backwards which led to a quick 3 and out. Following a punt, Colgate would start their next series inside Crusader territory. With great field position once again the Raiders finally put together a drive that ended in points instead of a turnover. Jonah Bowman’s 42 yard FG pushed Colgate’s lead to 10-0 with 3:52 in the first half.

Holy Cross’s offensive woes continued into the second half. The Crusaders managed to run only 10 plays for 24 yards in the 3rd quarter. Colgate didn’t have much success either until the end of the quarter when they started what would be a grinding 13 play drive that took almost 7 minutes off the clock. Jonah Brown would finish off the drive early in the 4th quarter with short 28 yard FG to push the Raider lead to 13-0. On the Crusader’s next drive head coach Tom Gilmore gamble to go for a 4th and 1 at their own 33 yard line would be stuffed by the Raider D. Colgate took advantage of the excellent field position a few plays later when Alex Brown found pay dirt from 3 yards out to give the Raiders a commanding 19-0 (missed xp) lead with a 10:07 left in regulation. Colgate and Holy Cross would each tack on late TDs.

Holy Cross was held to 21 net yards rushing in the loss.

Up Next: Colgate travels to the Bronx to take on Fordham. The Raiders scored a huge 31-29 win over then #11 Fordham last year on enroute to the Patriot League title. Holy Cross will look to bounce back against a Georgetown team that has lost 5 straight games after starting the year 3-0.

#23 Lehigh 58 Fordham 37

Lehigh (7-2, 4-0) took one step closer to the 2016 Patriot Title with an emphatic win over Fordham (5-3, 2-1) on a perfect afternoon for football in Bethlehem. The Mountain Hawks offense continues to pile up points and yards during their now 7 game winning streak. Lehigh amassed 632 yard of total offense including a season best 349 rushing yards. QB Nick Shafnisky (13 carries 108 yards 4 TDs) and RB Dominic Bragalone (15 carries 192 yards 3 TDs) each reached the century mark in the victory. The WR duo of Troy Pelletier and Gatlin Casey who entered the game #1 and #2 FCS in receiving yards were mostly held in check by the Rams. Fordham RB Chase Edmonds had another great game (182 yards) but was kept out of the end zone.

Following a Fordham punt on the first series of the game the Lehigh offense got things going on what would be first of many scoring drives on the day. Shafnisky (10-18 238 yards 1 TD) completed two passes and Bragalone had two lengthy runs including a 19 yard scamper into the end zone to give Lehigh a 7-0 lead with a 10:11 left in the 1st quarter. Fordham would be plagued by penalties on their second possession of the game which would force them to punt the ball back to Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks would only need one play to find the end zone again. Shafnisky hit a streaking Derek Knott (3 rec 130 yards 1 TD) deep down the seam for an 84 yard TD. Lehigh would attempt a swinging gate 2pt conversion and fail leaving the score at 13-0 midway through the opening quarter. Fordham’s offense would finally get things going on their next drive. Kevin Anderson’s (21-33 285 yards 3TDs) 3 yard QB keeper capped an impressive 10 play 91 yard drive that closed the Ram deficit to 7 points (missed XP).

Lehigh would tack on a 29 yard Ed Mish FG on the next time they saw the ball to extend their lead to 16-6. Fordham would match the Mountain Hawk FG with one of their own on the ensuing drive to get back within a TD early in the second quarter. Lehigh would get back in the end zone on their next drive. Shafnisky scored on a perfectly executed zone-read play to cap a 9 play 80 yard drive. On Fordham’s next possession Chase Edmond’s fumble ended up in the hands of Lehigh’s Donovan Harris at the Ram 34 yard line. Lehigh would make Fordham pay a few plays later when Bragalone found the end zone for the second time. Bragalone would break free for a 70 yard TD the next time Lehigh saw the ball to give the Mountain Hawks a commanding 37-9 half time lead.

Lehigh got the ball to start the second half and turned to the ground game after Shafnisky had to leave the game for a few minutes due to being poked the eye on a facemask penalty. Following 7 straight rushing play, backup QB Brad Mayes found Gatlin Casey in the end zone for a 29 yard score. Fordham would be stopped on 4th an 11 at their own 34 yard line the next time they saw the ball. Lehigh would capitalize on the great field position two plays later when Shafnisky once again executed the zone read to perfection on a 15 yard TD run to give Lehigh a dominating 51-9 lead with a little over 8 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

Fordham’s starters would tack on several late scores against Lehigh’s 2nd and 3rd teamers to make the score a little more respectable.

Up Next: Lehigh will look to nail down the Patriot League championship and automatic bid into the FCS playoffs when they welcome Bucknell to Goodman Stadium next weekend. Fordham returns home to play Colgate. The Rams need a win if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Power Rankings

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

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