Patriot League: Week 3 Recap and Power Rankings

Holy Cross’s 25 point win over #8 New Hampshire was not only the highlight of the week in the Patriot League but it also saved the conference from having a truly abysmal Saturday. The Crusaders have been extremely impressive to start the year and are clearly favorites as the leaves start to change. The Crusader’s closest challenger appears to be Colgate. The Raiders entered their game with FBS Buffalo with hopes of winning but left with 23 point loss. Meanwhile Fordham, Lafayette and Lehigh all suffered embarrassing defeats. Bucknell played well for a half but were ultimately doomed by 3rd quarter surge by William & Mary. Finally, Georgetown failed to do the little things in a 14-12 loss to Marist. When the dust settled the league posted a 1-6 record in week 3.

Yale 56 Lehigh 28

Lehigh’s defense reached a new level of ineptitude last Saturday afternoon against Yale (1-0) in a decisive 28 point loss at Goodman Stadium. As a result of their defensive struggles the Mountain Hawks are off to their second 0-3 straight in the last 4 years (2014 started 0-5). The Lehigh “D” is giving up an average of 51 ppg dating back to their 1st round playoff loss to New Hampshire to end last season. While all aspects of the defense are struggling the biggest issue remains Lehigh’s inability to stop the run (291 ypg allowed). To compound the issues on defense is a sputtering offense that is battling injuries. After averaging 36 ppg in 2016 the Mountain Hawks have failed to reach 30 points in each of the last two games. If the defense is going to continue to struggle the offense must find the explosiveness that was expected before the season started.

One of the major problems the offense has faced in 2017 is always having to play from behind. For the third straight week Lehigh gave up a touchdown on their opponent’s first drive of the game. Yale went 70 yards in only 3 plays to jump on the Mountain Hawks 7-0. The Eli extended their lead to 14-0 less than 4 minutes later when Kurt Rawlings tossed his second TD pass of the game. Lehigh fought back to make it 14-13 (missed XP) by putting together two lengthy scoring drives (14 play and 10 play). Yale would respond with a long 12 play 70 yard drive of their own to push the lead back to 8 with 4:13 left in the 2nd quarter. The Eli added a back breaking TD with 21 seconds left in the first half to take a 28-13 lead into the locker room. Brad Mayes(18-31 304 yards 3 TD) 66 yard TD strike to Gatlin Casey (4 rec 100 yards 2 TD) to start  the second half closed the Lehigh deficit back to 7 after a successful 2 point conversion. That would be the closest the Brown & White would get the rest of the game. Yale would score the next 3 touchdowns to blow the game open.

Up Next: Lehigh hosts defending Ivy League Co-Champions Penn Saturday afternoon. The Mountain Hawks beat the Quakers 49-28 last year in Philadelphia.

#16 Eastern Washington 56 Fordham 21

Fordham (1-2, 0-0) could not overcome a mess of a defense and an offense that was without the services of All-American RB Chase Edmonds in a decisive loss to Eastern Washington (1-2) last weekend. Edmonds was unable to go after injuring his ankle against Central Connecticut State the week prior. It’s too early to tell if he’ll be ready to play against Bryant this week. While having Edmonds at full health likely wouldn’t have changed the ultimate outcome, his production on the ground would have at least helped to shorten the game. That alone would have aided the Ram’s poor defense (50.3 ppg allowed). Without Edmonds the Rams managed just 26 yards on the ground against the Eagles. For the game Eastern Washington outgained Fordham 650 yards to 217. It was Fordham’s first home loss in nearly two years (Villanova 9/12/15).

After fumbling on their first possession of the game, the Eagles went on a 9 play 75 yard touchdown drive the next time they touched the ball. Fordham was able to capitalize on Eastern Washington’s second turnover of the game to tie the score at 7 with 43 second left in the 1st quarter. Ram quarterback Kevin Anderson (17-28 191 yards 2 TD) found Corey Caddle (5 rec 50 yards 2 TD) from 5 yards out for the score. Eastern Washington would respond with two 2nd quarter touchdowns to take a 21-7 lead at half. The Eagles would put the game out of reach early in the 3rd quarter. Talented EWU QB Gabe Gubrud connected with Antoine Custer from 43 yards out 17 seconds into to the second half to push the lead to 28-7. On the Eagles next possession Gubrud closed out a 7 play 60 yard drive with a short touchdown pass to Henderson Belk to officially turn the game into a rout.

Eastern Washington was able to score 56 points despite committing 5 turnovers. Another sobering stat for the Fordham defense is the fact that five out of the eight Eagle scoring drives were less than 90 seconds.

Up Next: Fordham heads to Rhode Island to take on the Bryant Bulldogs. Bryant won the last meeting 44-30 in 2010.

Holy Cross 51 #8 New Hampshire 26

Holy Cross (2-1, 1-0) scored a massively impressive out of conference win over the 8th ranked Wildcats (2-1) on a beautiful New England afternoon. It was the Crusaders first win over a Top 10 team since 2005 (@ Lehigh). Star Holy Cross quarterback Peter Pujals led the way on offense with a spectacular performance (21-39 367 yards 5 TD). He was aided by a balanced ground game that was able to produce 153 yards. Miles Alexander was Holy Cross’s leading rusher with 54 yards on 13 carries. Not to be outdone by the offense was the Crusader “D” which also put forth a very strong performance in the win. While giving up 485 yards is not ideal, the Holy Cross defense came up huge time and time again in key situations to keep the Wildcats from gaining momentum. All everything linebacker Nick McBeath led the Holy Cross defense with 10 solo tackles and 1 sack.

New Hampshire jumped out to an early 7-0 lead following a 6 play 89 yard TD drive that culminated in Trevor Knight’s 6 yard TD pass to Neil O’Connor. The Crusaders were able to get on the board with 43 seconds left in the 1st quarter when A.J. Wells boomed a 46 yard FG. Holy Cross took their first lead of the game with 11:21 to play in the 2nd quarter. Pujals found Martin Dorsey from 14 yards out to give the Crusaders a 10-7 lead. Two more A.J. Wells field goals (29 yards & 37 yards) gave Holy Cross a 16-7 lead heading into the locker room.

The Crusaders took control of the game during a 16 second sequence in the 3rd quarter. First, Andre Harton capped a 7 play 71 yard drive with a 20 yard TD run. Then on the ensuing kickoff Holy Cross recovered a fumble at the Wildcat 6 yard line. One play later Pujals connected with Derek Martin to push the lead to 30-7 with 9:22 remaining the 3rd quarter. New Hampshire would get no closer than 17 points the rest of the way.

Up Next: Holy Cross faces their second straight opponent from the Granite State as they head to Hanover to take on Dartmouth. Dartmouth posted a resounding 35-10 win over Holy Cross last year in Worcester.

Marist 14 Georgetown 12

Georgetown (1-1, 0-0) suffered a disappointing loss to Marist (2-1) in the home opener at Cooper Field. Georgetown’s inability to generate any type of consistency on offense continues to haunt the Hoyas. There’s simply a lack of playmakers at running back. Tim Barnes had a solid game (21-40 217 yards 1 TD 1 INT) but received virtually no help from the rushing attack (45 yards). Until Coach Sgarlata and his staff can figure out a way to generate some explosive plays on offense to compensate for the inability to drive the ball Georgetown will continue to be one of the lower scoring teams in FCS. It has to be frustrating for the defense which once again put together an excellent performance after a slow start.

Marist was able to grab an early 7-0 lead with 3:34 remaining in the opening quarter. A few minutes later the Red Foxes were able to take advantage of Tim Barnes interception deep in Georgetown territory. Marist RB Marcellus Calhoun found pay dirt from 6 yards out push the lead to 14-0 with 14:23 left in the 2nd quarter. The Hoya offense would continue to be stuck in neutral until midway through the 3rd quarter. That’s when Christian Bermudez plunged into the end zone from the 2 yard line to cut the Marist lead to 14-6 (XP blocked). Georgetown would have a chance to tie the game with 4:48 left in regulation but their 2 pt conversion attempt failed following a Barnes to Dereus 44 yard TD strike. The Hoyas had one last opportunity but time ran out before they could attempt a 43 yard game winning field goal.

Up Next: The Hoyas head to the Big Apple to battle Columbia. Georgetown beat the Lions 17-14 last year at Cooper Field.

#7 Villanova 59 Lafayette 0

Lafayette (0-3, 0-0) was completely overwhelmed by the 7th ranked Wildcats last Saturday evening. The Leopards could muster only 77 total yards (-12 rushing) while surrendering 505 yards to Villanova in the blowout loss. To say the start of the John Garrett era has been a struggle would be a serious understatement. While Lafayette had started the year with 2 decisive losses to Monmouth and Sacred Heart, there were some positives to be had from those games. There’s nothing Garrett and his staff can take away from the debacle that occurred on the Main Line. From start to finish all three phases were thoroughly dominated by Villanova.

It did not take long for the Wildcats to the ball rolling. Villanova went on a 6 play 79 yard TD drive on their opening possession of the game. Shifty ‘Nova quarterback Zach Bednarczyk opened the flood gates with a 4 yard TD scamper with 12:19 left in the 1st quarter. Bednarczyk would connect with TE Ryan Bell for a short TD pass with 3:21 remaining in the opening quarter to push the lead to 14-0. Things would really spiral out of control for Lafayette in the 2nd quarter. The Wildcats would score five touchdowns in the quarter to take an insurmountable 49-0 half time lead.

Up Next: Lafayette welcomes old Ivy League nemesis Princeton to Easton Saturday. The Tigers snuck past Lafayette 35-31 last year in New Jersey.

William & Mary 30 Bucknell 9

Bucknell (1-2, 0-1) put forth an excellent first half before ultimately running out gas during the final 30 minutes of against William & Mary (2-1) this past Saturday. The Tribe now own a 5-0 all-time record in the series between the two excellent academic institutions.  The Bison had two early opportunities to get points but the offense stalled which forced a punt and a turnover on downs. Had the Bison “O” been able to capitalize on those early opportunities their defense would not have had to play on their heels the entire contest. The lack of a running game continues to be a major issue for Bucknell. They managed a paltry 23 yards on the ground against William & Mary. It was the third straight game the Bison failed reach the 100 yards mark on the ground.  That’s obviously a serious problem with a returning 1,000 rusher in the backfield. The Bucknell defense did their part for most of the game. They limited the Tribe to 281 total yards (105 through the air).

The Bucknell “D” did get off to a shaky start. The Tribe were able to score a touchdown on their opening possession of the game following a 8 play, 80 yard drive. Kris Hooper’s 20 yard FG midway through the 2nd quarter pushed the William & Mary lead to 10-0. Bucknell immediately responded to the FG with a brisk 5 play 70 yard TD drive. Matt Muh (15-20 155 yards 1 TD) connected with Andrew Podbielski from 8 yards out for the TD. The Tribe blocked the XP so the score was 10-6 with 5:24 remaining in the 2nd quarter. Bucknell was able to put together another impressive drive before half. That one ended in a 33 yard John Burdick field goal.

A 15 yard Noah Giles 3rd quarter TD run pushed the Tribe to 17-9. What really changed the game was Corey Parkers scoop and score touchdown on Bucknell’s ensuing possession that extended the lead to 23-9. William & Mary would tack on one more 3rd quarter TD.

Up Next: Bucknell returns to the friendly confines of Christy Mathewson Stadium to face Sacred Heart. The Bison won the last meeting (2014) 36-20.

Buffalo 33 #24 Colgate 10

The Bulls (1-2) got out of the gate early and Colgate (1-2, 0-0) could never recover as Buffalo coasted to a 33-10 win on a warm night in Western New York. The tough Raider defense struggled to contain Buffalo quarterback Tyree Jackson in the first quarter and by the time they figure out how to best defend him the damage was already done. Not helping Colgate’s cause was an offense that struggled to get rolling for a third straight game to start the year. Sophomore quarterback Grant Breneman (6-23 yards 56 yards, 68 yards rushing) got first career start the Raiders in the loss. Coach Hunt had been hoping to get a spark in the passing game but all he got was more of the same. Colgate is averaging an abysmal 85 ypg through the air to start the season. If they want to contend for the league title they must get better production from the QB position.

Production from the quarterback spot was not an issue for Buffalo on this night. Jackson’s 14 yard TD on the Bull’s opening possession capped an 11 play drive that took just under 5 minutes. Less than 90 seconds later Tyree Jackson burned Colgate again. This time Jackson found Anthony Johnson in the corner of the end zone for a TD to put Buffalo ahead 14-0 with 8:58 left in the 1st quarter. Colgate was able to respond with a much needed FG to cut the Bulls lead to 11. Unfortunately for the Raiders the momentum went back in Buffalo’s corner on their next possession. Emmanuel Reed’s 3 yard TD (missed XP) closed out a dominant opening quarter by Bulls. Buffalo tacked on ten 2nd quarter points to put the game away at half time.

Up Next: Colgate host Southern Conference member Furman in an interesting out of conference match-up. The Paladins own a 2-0 series lead.

Power Rankings

  1. Holy Cross – The Crusaders sent a message to the rest of FCS with their dominant win over perennial power New Hampshire. They’re the team to beat in the Patriot League at the ¼ pole.
  2. Colgate – They have a rugged defense the offense is extremely limited right now. Unless they get better production from the QB position they seem a step behind the Crusaders.
  3. Fordham – The defense is a mess and the offensive line can’t protect but they still have the best player in the league. This week is a must win.
  4. Bucknell – The defense continues to play well but it clearly can’t do it alone. The offensive line must figure things out or a winning season will be out of reach.
  5. Lehigh – The Mountain Hawks have been a major disappointment to start the year. The defense is among the very worse in FCS and the offense is struggling with injuries.
  6. Georgetown – They’re within a whisker of being 2-0. If Barnes can get some help in the backfield they should improve up last year’s 3 win total.
  7. Lafayette – The Leopards have been outscored 129-36 to start the year. There’s very few positives to build on right now.

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