Patriot League: Week 11 Review and Power Rankings

The penultimate weekend of the 2017 Patriot League football season finally produced some clarity in the championship race. Colgate’s shutout win over Lafayette kept the Raiders in prime position for at least a share of the title. The Leopards dream of a ring ended but they can still be a major factor in the championship picture with a win over Lehigh. That’s because the Mountain Hawks kept control of their destiny with an impressive win over Holy Cross. All Lehigh has to do now is beat their arch rival to punch a ticket back to the playoffs. The remaining game last week saw Bucknell keep their dream of a winning season alive with a very blue collar like performance against Georgetown.

Bucknell 12 Georgetown 0

Bucknell’s (5-5, 2-3) shutout win (first since 2015) over Georgetown (1-9, 0-5) did not disappoint on the ugly meter. The combination of two poor offenses and two respectable defenses resulted in a slugfest that was slightly less ugly than Georgetown’s 7-0 loss to Lafayette the previous week. Mercifully, both offenses were able to climb over the 200 yard mark (GU 214, BU 297) in this game. After missing time this season, running back Joey DeFloria had a solid outing (23 carries 97 yards) on his Senior Day. Overall, the Bison rushing attack accounted for 171 of their 297 total yards. This is the second week in a row the Bison have had success running the ball. That has to be a wonderful sight for Coach Susan who has watched the offense struggle for much of the year due to the inability to run the ball. Another strong performance from DeFloria and Freshnock will be needed against Fordham if the Bison want to finish their 2017 campaign with a winning record.

Both defenses came out and dominated the play in the first half. The only points (John Burdick 26 yard FG) during the first 30 minutes of play were a result of Georgetown fumbling a punt return deep in their own territory. Burdick’s 21 yard chip shot with 7:17 remaining in the 3rd quarter pushed the Bison lead to 6-0. Bucknell would be able to extend their lead to two possessions the next time the touched the ball on offense. John Chiarolanzio (15-27 126 yards 1 TD) hit Marcus Ademilola for a 36 yard TD strike to give Bucknell a 12 point lead. Head Coach Joe Susan elected to go for 2 to extend the lead to 14 but the attempt failed.

The Hoya offense continues to be among the very worst in the country. The unit was shut out for the second straight week. It was also the second game in a row that quarterback Gunther Johnson (11-29 79 yards  1INT) failed to break the 100 yard barrier passing the ball. The sophomore did however lead the team with 131 yards rushing.

Up Next: Bucknell will try to secure a winning season against Fordham in the Bronx. Georgetown returns to D.C. to close out the 2017 season against red hot Colgate.

Lehigh 34 Holy Cross 21

Lehigh (4-6, 4-1) was able get key contributions from all 3 phases in a hugely important 13 point win over Holy Cross (4-7, 3-3). With the victory over the Crusaders, Lehigh now needs to beat arch rival Lafayette to capture at least a share of the Patriot League Title and the automatic bid into the playoffs. The Leopards were more-or-less eliminated from title contention with their 27-0 loss to Colgate. After a strong performance against Bucknell last week, Lehigh put forth an even better showing against the Crusaders on a cold afternoon at Goodman Stadium. The Mountain Hawk’s special teams got things started with blocked punt deep in Holy Cross territory early in the game then the offense and defense got in the act. Lehigh running back Dom Bragalone (20 carries 201 yards 4 TDs) continued his torrid play to carry the “O” in the victory. On defense it was senior captain Tyer Cavenas who led the spirited effort (397 yards allowed). Cavenas spent much of the afternoon harassing Holy Cross quarterback Peter Pujals. He also made a major impact on special teams for the second week in a row.

Cavenas’s blocked punt early in the 1st quarter set the Mountain Hawk offense up at the Crusader 6 yard line. It only took Lehigh one play to find paydirt. Bragalone powered his way in to give Lehigh a 7-0 lead with 10:08 remaining in the opening quarter. On Lehigh’s next possession, Bragalone scored from 7 yards out to cap an 8 play 81 yard drive and extend the Lehigh advantage to 14-0. Holy Cross cut the deficit to 7 when Pujals (18-36 276 yards 2 TDs) hit Blaise Bell for a 28 yard TD strike on a 4th and 8 play. The score would remain 14-7 until Lehigh’s Ed Mish connected on a 23 yard FG with 4:59 remaining in the 3rd quarter. Bragalone and Mish would each add a TD and FG respectively to give Lehigh a commanding 27-7 lead midway through the 4th quarter.

Holy Cross season concluded with the loss and now the focus in Worcester turns to the coaching search. It will be interesting to see what direction Athletic Director Nate Pine goes in.

Up Next: Lehigh hosts Lafayette in the 153rd version of college football’s “Most Played Rivalry”. A win would secure Lehigh at least a share of their 12th Patriot League Championship. Holy Cross’s season concludes with a 4-7 overall record and 3-3 league mark. The highlight of the Crusader season came way back on September when they throttled then Top 10 New Hampshire 51-26.

Colgate 27 Lafayette 0

Colgate (6-4, 4-1) kept their Patriot League Title hopes alive by blanking the Leopards (3-7, 3-2) 27-0 in Easton. It was the first shutout posted by the Raiders since they defeated Georgetown 19-0 in 2014. Colgate’s defense held the Leopards to 35 yards rushing and intercepted Sean O’Malley 3 times in the victory. One of the interceptions was pick sixed by Nick Ioanilli. The Raider “D” also came up with three big 4th down stops in a row in the second half when Lafayette had driven the ball into Colgate territory.

The Raider defense needed a strong performance because Grant Breneman (5-17 92 yards 1 INT) and the rest of the “O” had their worst outing in league play. A big reason for their struggles was a Lafayette defense that continues to play a very high level. It’s the main reason the Leopards were playing a November game against Colgate with major title implications on the line. If the Lafayette offense was simply mediocre they may very well be playing Lehigh for the championship this week instead of being relegated to spoiler status.

Both defenses controlled the first 18+ minutes of action. Colgate was finally able to break the scoring ice early in the 2nd quarter with a brisk 3 play 61 yard TD drive. Owen Rockett capped the drive by scoring from 17 yards out on a razzle-dazzle double reverse. Colgate extended their lead to 14-0 the next time their offense touched the ball. This time it was Breneman powering in from a yard out for the score. Two (24 & 37 yards) Chris Puzzi field goals in the 3rd quarter pushed the lead to 20-0. Then came Ioanilli’s 33 yard pick six to put the icing on the cake.

Up Next: Colgate will try to nail down at least a share of the league title with a win over Georgetown in our nation’s capital. Lafayette makes the 10 mile trek to Goodman Stadium to take on Lehigh for the 153rd time.

Power Rankings

  1. Colgate – The Raiders are a win over lowly Georgetown from posting a league best 7-4 season.
  2. Lehigh – Beat Lafayette and the Mountain Hawks will have a chance to redeem themselves in the playoffs.
  3. Bucknell – It’s rarely been pretty all season but if the Bison beat Fordham they’ll finish with a winning record.
  4. Holy Cross – The Gilmore era ended a month ago, the Pujals era ended on Saturday. What will the future hold for Crusader football? The recent past has been underwhelming.
  5. Lafayette – The defense is the best in the league but the offense will go down as one of the worst in Leopard history. A win over Lehigh would define Garrett’s first season.
  6. Fordham – The Rams hopefully used their late season bye to heal up. It’s hard to believe Chase Edmonds’ career will be ending with such little fanfare. He deserved a better script for his senior year.
  7. Georgetown – This season has been a disaster on every level. The Hoyas will likely need to endure one last beating at the hands of Colgate before it finally ends.

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