Hoyas Shock Leopards in Season Opener
Sept. 11, 2010
EASTON, Pa. - Lafayette's last-minute drive was a microcosm of the Leopards entire season-opening game. They deftly moved the ball 60 yards with the end zone in sight before an interception ended the potential game-winning drive in a 28-24 loss to Georgetown on Saturday night at Fisher Stadium.
Lafayette (0-1, 0-1) piled up 509 yards of total offense, but the Leopards turned it over four times and were just 4-of-7 in red-zone possessions. Georgetown (2-0, 1-0) snapped its six-game losing skid to the Leopards and 12-game conference losing streak.
Trailing 28-24, Lafayette took over on its own 17-yard line with 1:58 left on the clock and one timeout. Lafayette QB Ryan O'Neil picked up one first down, but was knocked from the game on the third play of the drive with a leg injury.
Senior QB Marc Quilling came on in relief with Lafayette holding the ball on its 38-yard line. An 11-yard pass to Greg Stripe moved the Leopards near midfield. Facing 3rd-and-10, Quilling then found senior TE Kevin Doty along the Lafayette sideline for a 28-yard gain to the Georgetown 23. Quilling's throw across the middle near two Georgetown defenders was picked off Jayah Kaisamba with a minute left on the clock.
At the start of the game, the Lafayette defense set up the offense with a short field. Senior nosetackle Mike Phillips stripped Hoya ballcarrier Phillip Oladeji of the ball after his initial hit and Leroy Butler recovered it at the Georgetown 14-yard line. The second of two consecutive seven-yard runs by Jerome Rudolph put the Leopards up 7-0 with 10:49 left.
Lafayette's own turnover deep in its end gave Georgetown the ball at the four-yard line. Punter Tom Kondash dropped the snap and the Leopards turned it over on downs. Hoya running back Chance Logan punched in a one-yard score around the right end on the Hoyas' third play from scrimmage to tie the game at 7-7.
Late in the first quarter, the Hoyas returned the favor when Georgetown punt returner Zack Wilke called for a fair catch, but dropped the punt. Kyni Scott was there on the coverage to recover at the 11-yard line. The Leopards' subsequent drive culminated with a leaping catch by Mark Layton over the Georgetown defender for a four-yard score and a 14-7 lead. Layton finished the day with a career-high 11 catches for 92 yards.
The Leopards' offense had significantly farther to go on its next scoring drive, covering 59 yards on eight plays over four minutes. O'Neil hit freshman fullback Greg Kessel for a three-yard score and a 21-7 advantage.
Turnovers bit the Leopards again late in the first half. Rudolph fumbled and Georgetown recovered on its own 40-yard line. The fourth completion by Scott Darby (18-for-30 for 172 yards) on the drive found Keerome Lawrence for four yards as Georgetown trimmed the lead to 24-14.
The Leopards added to their lead before halftime, covering 53 yards before booting a 29-yard Davis Rodriguez field goal. Lafayette led 24-14 at halftime.
Making his first start of his career, O'Neil was 19-of-23 for 153 yards and two touchdowns in the first half while Rudolph piled up 97 yards on 18 carries. O'Neil finished the day 33-for-43 for 304 yards, two touchdowns and an interception while Rudolph scampered to his second career 100-yard rushing game with 24 carries for 131 yards.
As the second half opened, a quick strike by Georgetown cut the Leopard lead to three (24-21). Darby hit Max Waizenegger for a 51-yard catch and touchdown run. The Leopards responded with a 66-yard drive, moving the ball to the Georgetown six-yard line before O'Neil was picked off by Wayne Heimuli.
The Hoyas again took advantage of a Leopard miscue, driving 80 yards on 10 plays for a touchdown on a 30-yard run by Oladeji to give them their first lead of the game, 28-24.
Minutes into the fourth quarter, Lafayette attempted a 33-yard field goal which Rodriguez missed wide right to leave the Leopards trailing by four.
Another missed opportunity popped up with eight minutes left in the game. Lafayette drove from its own 22 to the Georgetown 15 before O'Neil fumbled while trying to tuck the ball.
On the next play, Georgetown appeared to return the favor when Darby overthrew his receiver resulting in an interception by Kyle Simmons who ran the ball back to the Georgetown 12. The Leopards were whistled for pass interference, erasing the turnover and allowing Georgetown to continue the drive and eat two and a half minutes off the clock.
With two and a half minutes left, Lafayette faced a fourth-and five at the 20-yard line. The Leopards punted the ball and held strong on defense, giving them the chance for the final drive.
Lafayette begins a four-game non-conference swing on Sept 18, taking on reining Ivy League champion Penn in a 7 p.m. kick off.
NOTES: The loss was the first season-opening loss since 2001 (Sept. 8 at Towson) and the first loss in a conference opener since 2003 (Sept. 13 at Towson 19-13).
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