Defense Stops Offense in Maroon-White Scrimmage
April 16, 2011
EASTON, Pa. - Against the backdrop of grey skies and impending rain, Lafayette concluded the 2011 spring season with the annual Maroon-White scrimmage on Saturday morning at Fisher Stadium.
The defense, clad in maroon jerseys and white pants, won 33-21 using a newly revamped scoring system that allows points for stops on downs and stops on three-and-outs. The Lafayette offense wore the traditional road uniforms with white jerseys and pants.
O'Neil, who returns as the starting signal caller, started with the first team offense and his day was highlighted by a 29-yard pass to Hayes on O'Neil's third series. That put the offense on the brink of a score at the one-yard line. Junior tailback Alan Elder was stuffed on a first down run, but scored a one-yard touchdown with a run off tackle on second down.
Junior Andrew Shoop and sophomore Patrick McCain, who are vying for the backup quarterback spot, took the bulk of the snaps in the 60-play scrimmage. Shoop was picked off once on the day, the lone turnover offensively.
McCain's afternoon was highlighted by a 50-yard scoring toss to sophomore Mark Ross. McCain fumbled the center exchange but quickly corralled it and found Ross wide open down the field for the touchdown.
Defensively, junior Tahir Basil was the standout, using his quickness off the ball to make several tackles for loss and help slow the Leopard running game. Sophomore LB Kasheem Hill also made several run stops in the opening series.
"Tahir really brings it and gets everyone around him juiced up," said 12th-year Lafayette head coach Frank Tavani. "He really adds something to that defensive line. He had a lot of injuries last season and we never able to see what he could do.
"Our defensive line as a group had a great spring. Our tackling has improved all spring," Tavani said. "Our defense has been wrapping up and running through tackles. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we've done more scrimmaging this spring that we have in my previous 11 seasons as head coach."
The team will have Sunday off and will begin breaking down game film in the coming days.
"We'll be getting back in the weight room and trying to finish up the semester strong academically and then on to our summer program," Tavani said.
The team will report for preseason camp on Aug. 7 in preparation for the season opener on Sept. 3 at North Dakota State, a team which was nationally ranked during the 2010 season and lost to eventual national champion Eastern Washington in overtime in the FCS Quarterfinals.
RUNNING GAME: Fans probably got just a glimpse of the Lafayette running game they will get to see in the fall of 2011. On Saturday, Alan Elder was featured to start with significant carries by sophomore TB Marcellus Irving (who has several solid runs and made a first-down catch in the flat) and junior TB Emery Young. Senior Jerome Rudolph, junior Vaughn Hebron and sophomore Pat Mputu did not participate on Saturday, but should get their fair share of carries in the regular season.
"We showed some life. We really only used three or four running plays. We're getting a little more physical, a little tougher," Tavani said. "We'll obviously have some additional guys out there in the fall who can also be difference makers. There is a lot of work to be done."
INJURIES: On the injury side of things Anthony Buffolino had to be helped off the field after suffering a knee injury which Tavani described as a "twisted knee" that didn't look to be serious. Tahir Basil had a finger injury during the scrimmage and was x-rayed after the game.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Ethan Swerdlow was the first-string placekicker and punter, looking to replace the graduated Davis Rodriguez and Tom Kondash. Swerdlow will battle with sophomore Anthony Ciminello and incoming freshman Austin O'Brien.
Kevin Doty and Morgan Donohue each spent time at long snapper while Kyle Hayes continued to be the team's holder. The Leopards didn't do much in the way of returns, but Darius Safford and Greg Stripe each returned a punt.
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