Patriot League: Week 8 Review and Power Rankings

Week 8 of the Patriot League season was highlighted by a classic defensive struggle between Bucknell and Lafayette. Colin Jonov’s 95 yard pick six on the first play of overtime gave the Bison a thrilling 13-7 win. Colgate, while not nearly exciting, also posted a crucial win. The Raiders easily dispatched a downtrodden Crusader team in Worcester to remain in the hunt for the Patriot League title. The third game last weekend saw Fordham end their 5 game losing streak against Georgetown. The Rams did so without several key starters.

Colgate 45 Holy Cross 7

Holy Cross did not get any immediate results from replacing long time head coach Tom Gilmore with offensive coordinator Brian Rock in an embarrassing 45-7 point loss to Colgate. The 38 point margin of defeat was Holy Cross’s largest in the history of the series (80 games). For the third time in four weeks the Crusader offense struggled to do much of anything. Fifth year senior quarterback Peter Pujals (13-24  1 TD 3 INT vs Colgate) has really been off during this recent stretch which is the main reason the unit’s production has fallen off a cliff. The only chance Holy Cross has this year to right the ship is if he plays better and the defense raises their play. If he continues to struggle and the defense can’t pick up the slack Rock might be wise to allow one of the quarterbacks of the future to get a shot. At this point, it might be wise for interim head coach Rock to look 2018 and beyond at all positions.

One quarterback that does have it rolling right now is Colgate’s Grant Breneman (16-24 222 yards 2 TDs, 11 rushes 36 yards 2 TDs). The freshman signal caller accounted for 4 touchdowns in the Raiders demolition of Holy Cross. His 12 yard TD toss to Nick Diaco on the Raider’s first possession of the game gave Colgate the early 7-0 lead. The Crusaders would respond with their only points of the game on the ensuing drive. Pujals connected with Andre Harton for a short 7 yard touchdown to tie the game at 7. Chris Puzzi’s chip-shot 26 yard FG early in the 2nd quarter gave the lead back to Colgate at 10-7. Following a Crusader 3 and out, James Holland (16 carries 109 yards 1 TD) 1 yard plunge into the endzone extended the Raider lead to 17-7 midway through the second quarter. Colgate blew the game open with a dominating third quarter that saw the Raiders outscore Holy Cross 21-0.

Up Next: Colgate hosts Bucknell in a very important league battle. Holy Cross welcomes Georgetown to Fitton Field in a likely battle for last place.

Fordham 17 Georgetown 9

Since their offense was without Kevin Anderson, Chase Edmonds and a trio of wide receivers Fordham needed to rely on their much maligned defense in a narrow win over Georgetown. The “W” snapped Fordham’s five game losing streak that dated back to September 9th (38-31 over Central Conn. State).  The Hoyas had five (not counting the final possession with 8 seconds left) possessions in the 4th quarter but failed to notch a single 1st down let alone the 8 points needed to tie the game. Fordham limited Georgetown to 246 total yards and 11 first downs on the game. This year’s battle followed a similar script as last season’s tussle in the Bronx that also saw Fordham win. The Hoyas certainly had their chances but their inability to make plays on offense when needed cost them again.

Fordham was able to get one the board first thanks to Andrew Mevis’s 30 yard field with 6:17 left in the opening quarter. Mevis would tack on a 31 yarder early in the 2nd quarter to extend the lead to 6-0. Georgetown finally got the offense going on their fifth possession of the game. Gunther Johnson (17-35 196 yards 1 TD) found Max Edwards for a 12 yard touchdown that appeared to give the Hoyas a 1 point lead with the extra point pending. However, Fordham’s Jesse Bramble blocked the point after attempt then was able to scoop it up and return it for 2 points. When the dust settled Fordham was still leading 8-6 with 3:11 left before half. Georgetown was finally able to take the lead in the third quarter. Brad Hurst’s 27 yard FG capped a lengthy 11 play 67 yard drive that took 5:38 off the clock. The advantage would be short lived as Fordham would immediately respond with a brisk 5 play 75 yard drive that took just over to 2 minutes to complete. Backup quarterback Luke Medlock (25-45 258 yards 1 TD) hooked up with Austin Longi for the go ahead 12 yard touchdown. Fordham attempted a 2 point try to extend the lead to 7 but failed. As a result of the failed conversion the Ram advantage stood at 14-9 with 7:16 left in the 3rd quarter. Mevis’s third field goal of the game pushed the Ram lead to 17-9 with a little over 9 minutes left. From there, the Fordham defense would preserve the win.

Wide receiver Austin Longi had a monster day (13 rec. 150 yards 1 TD) for Fordham that included a highlight reel catch that didn’t count because he landed out of bounds.

Up Next: Fordham returns to the Bronx to take on Lehigh in what was suppose to be the Patriot League game of the year. The Hoyas take the long bus ride to Worcester, MA to tangle with Holy Cross in a battle of struggling teams/programs.

Bucknell 13 Lafayette 7 OT

For the second time this season the Bucknell Bison (4-3, 1-1) won in thrilling fashion on the last play of the game.  Colin Jonov’s 95 yard pick six in the 1st overtime broke the hearts of the Lafayette Leopards (2-6, 2-1) and sent the Bison sideline into an absolute frenzy. It was Bucknell’s second pick six of the game. With the win (4th straight over Lafayette), Bucknell is only team in the Patriot League with a winning record at the conclusion of week 8. The “W” also thrusts the Orange and Blue right in the thick of the league title race. With games remaining against Colgate and Lehigh the Bison now control their own fate as they try to capture their second league title and first ever trip to the FCS playoffs. Lafayette is still in position to grab at least a share of the title if they win out. But given the state of their offense it seems rather improbable. The Bison “O” isn’t exactly lighting it up either but they have at least some balance that opposing defenses have to respect. Plus, their defense is once again playing at a very high level (20 ppg allowed, 30th in FCS).

It didn’t take long for the Bison “D” to make their presence known in this one. On Lafayette’s 4th play from scrimmage Drew Newcomb jumped an out-route for a 31 yard pick six. Leopard quarterback Sean O’Malley had his worse game (16-30 90 yards 2 INTs) since the Villanova debacle in week 2. O’Malley did however get some unexpected help from the rushing attack to keep Lafayette in the game. C.J. Amil and Selwyn Simpson combined for almost 100 yards which was a major improvement for the Leopards anemic rushing attack. The two were crucial (57 of the 60 yards) during Lafayette’s only scoring drive of the game. Simpson was able to muscle into the endzone from 2 yards out to tie the game at 7 with 7:50 left in the 3rd quarter. Both defenses would then proceed to dominate the action until Bucknell’s offense put together their best drive of the game in the 4th quarter. That’s when Bison quarterback John Chiarolanzio (14-25 129 yards 1 INT) led a 17 play 69 yard drive that would last over 8 minutes. Ultimately, the drive stalled at the Lafayette 25 yard line with a little over a minute left in regulation and the Bison called upon John Buskirk to boot a 42 yard go ahead FG. Buskirk would push the kick to the right and the game headed to overtime. That’s when Jonov pick sixed O’Malley on the first play of OT to end the game in dramatic fashion!

Up Next: Bucknell heads to Central New York to butt heads with Colgate in an extremely crucial league contest. Lafayette is on a much needed bye as they try to regroup for one last run at the Patriot League title.

Power Rankings

  1. Colgate – The Raiders continue to play their best football of the year. They must beat Bucknell to keep their playoff hopes alive.
  2. Bucknell – The Bison own the league’s only winning record thanks to a defense that is rounding into form at the perfect time. Destiny is in their hands but Colgate in Hamilton will be a tall order.
  3. Lehigh – The Mountain Hawks come off their bye all alone at the top of the Patriot League standings. If the coaching staff was able to figure out some things to help the defense they’re likely to remain there. It all starts with Fordham this week.
  4. Lafayette – The Leopards couldn’t win a 3rd straight down to the wire Patriot League game. Still, a Colgate win over Bucknell and the Leopards will be right back in the thick of the title race following their bye.
  5. Fordham – The Rams MASH unit was able to score a much needed win over Georgetown. Now they try to exact some revenge on Lehigh after last year’s thumping in Bethlehem. In order to make that happen they healthy bodies. First and foremost, Anderson and Edmonds.
  6. Georgetown – The Hoyas have fought extremely hard in their two most recent losses. If they continue to battle like hell they have a great chance to notch at least 1 league win.
  7. Holy Cross – The Crusaders are in the midst of one of the worst stretches in program history. There are no obvious positives to draw from at this point. If the effort doesn’t improve they won’t win another game this season.

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