Lafayette Triumphs Over William & Mary...and the weather...17-14
- Lafayette's concerted effort on defense held William & Mary to 197 yards of total offense in a 17-14 win in the Leopards' season opener on Saturday night at Zable Stadium.
The overall yardage number didn't quite tell the story, as 80 of the 197 total yards came on the final offensive series. The defense held William & Mary to 84 yards rushing and 113 yards in the air. Conversely, the Lafayette offense churned out 301 yards, 189 from the arm of senior QB Andrew Shoop who was 18-of-34 with a touchdown and no interceptions. Shoop completed passes to eight receivers for at least 15 yards, including four to Mike Duncan and Ross Scheuerman. On the ground, the Leopards had 112 yards, 66 from Vaughn Hebron and 37 from Scheuerman.
"I think we surprised them a little bit with our play. The kids just gave a tremendous effort. I couldn't be prouder of our young men," " said Lafayette head coach Frank Tavani. "There was tremendous preparation by our staff. It was a true team effort. The kids have really pulled together as a team since last year. I think they really proved something today."
Late in the first quarter, the Leopards' offense scored the first points of the game. Shoop hit Hebron for a 15-yard completion on 3rd-and-6. Three plays later, Hebron, who started the game at tailback, broke a play outside and took it in. His 14-yard scoring run was the fourth of his career and was sprung by a Rodney Gould block. Ethan Swerdlow's PAT gave Lafayette a 7-0 with 1:36 left in the quarter.
"Vaughn Hebron'srun was as good as a touchdown run as I've seen in a long time. He beats the All-American and busts the tackles.," Tavani said. "It was uncommon effort. That's what our pledge is to each other and to stay a family all season." An 80-minute-minute lightning delay served as the post-touchdown celebration, as the officials cleared the field. The game, which kicked off at 7 p.m., resumed at 9 p.m. and last for 4:24 minutes.
In the second quarter, the Tribe (0-2) put some pressure on Shoop and forced a fumble on third down at the Lafayette 34. The ensuing William & Mary drive used three plays and resulted in a 28-yard pass from Michael Graham to Tre McBride that knotted the game at 7-7.
Lafayette responded with its own drive at the end of the half, using 11 plays to cover 61 yards. On 2-and-10 at the 14, Shoop connected with Hall in the corner of the endzone. He reeled in the pass, but the official ruled that Hall was out of bounds. The Leopards were forced to attempt a 31-yard field goal. The snap was high and Swerdlow's kick hit the right upright to leave the game tied.
In the third quarter amid the wet field conditions, Lafayette forced a fumble and turned it into seven points. James Coscia knocked it loose and Shane Blackrecovered. The offense cobbled together a 9-play, 48-yard scoring drive over the next 3:12. Lafayette had the ball 3rd-and-15 on the 18 when Shoop zipped a ball across the middle into the endzone for Duncan's first career touchdown. Lafayette led 14-7.
An illegal substitution penalty cost the Tribe dearly in the fourth quarter, extending Lafayette's drive near midfield. Lafayette moved to the William & Mary 17 before Swerdlow gave Lafayette some breathing room with a 34-yard field goal and a 17-7 lead.
William & Mary made things very interesting the waning minutes. The Tribe put together an eight-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 32-yard pass from Raphael Ortiz to McBride with 1:48 left in the game.
Scheuerman recovered the onsides kick for the Leopards to close out the victory.
Lafayette hosts Penn in week two on Saturday at 6 p.m., the home opener at Fisher Stadium.
Lafayette's victory is the first in a season opener since 2009 when the Leopards topped Georgetown 28-3 on Sept. 12.
In Frank Tavani's tenure as a head coach, the Leopards are 3-0 in the state of Virginia, beating William & Mary, Richmond, and Liberty. The William & Mary series is scheduled for three more games with the Tribe returning the trip in 2013.
Freshman kicker Ryan Gralishstarted the season by booting his kick off into the endzone for a touchback. He had two touchbacks in the game.
Jared Roberts picked off Tribe QB Michel Graham on William and Mary's first offensive series, his first career interception.
Lafayette improves to 85-43-3 all-time in season openers.