Delaware Outlasts Leopards 19-9
Sept. 12, 2015
NEWARK, Del. - Lafayette battled CAA foe Delaware late into the fourth quarter before a fumble and subsequent Delaware drive led to a 19-9 final on Saturday night at a soggy Delaware Stadium.
Sophomore linebacker Brandon Bryant was the defensive standout on the night, making 18 tackles (9 solo, 9 assists) for the Leopards who gave up 315 total yards (58 passing, 257 rushing) of offense. Lafayette freshman placekicker Jacob Bissell accounted for all of Lafayette's scoring plays in his second collegiate game, making three field goals of 40 or more yards, including a career-long 47-yarder.
The opening drive of week two of the season saw junior Blake Searfoss (13-24-1 for 171 yards) under center as Lafayette head coach Frank Tavani utilized both he and Drew Reed. The Leopards covered 52 yards on 10 plays. DeSean Brown started with a 24-yard run before Searfoss hit Matt Mrazek for 18 more. The Leopards, however, finished with just 22 net rushing yards in the half.
A roughing call on 4th-and-7 moved the ball to the Delaware 12, but settled for a field goal as Searfoss fumbled a snap from shotgun and was later sacked. Bissell's first career field goal (in a driving rain) was good for the 3-0 lead. Delaware (1-1) evened the score on a lengthy drive midway through the second quarter. The Leopard defense turned up the intensity when it was backed up to the two-yard line. Six different players (Bosch, Cepeda, Rothrock, Merriman, Bryant, Roberts) stopped three straight rushing attempts off tackle, forcing a 19-yard field goal by Frank Raggo that concluded the 15-play drive and tied the game at 3-3. Delaware QB Joe Walker picked up 29 yards on the ground on the drive.
The hosts took advantage of a Leopard turnover with seven minutes left in the first half. Lafayette had the ball 3rd-and-16 on its own nine when Reed (5-8-0 for 44 yards) mishandled the snap which was recovered by Vince Hollerman at the two-yard line.
On Delaware's third play of the drive, Walker followed a lead block and ran it in from one-yard out for 10-3 lead. Delaware tacked on a 45-yard field goal with 1:13 left to lead 13-3 at halftime. The Blue Hens ended the first half with three passing yards.
A 70-minute lightning delay delayed the start of the second half.
The Leopards opened with a defensive stop that was nullified by a roughing the punter penalty. Delaware looked poised to score after Walker hit Ryley Angeline for a 41-yard strike. On the second play after the big gainer, Walker fumbled the snap and Dennis Bencsko recovered.
Reed started at QB in the second half, but Searfoss was back in on the second drive, hitting Mrazek for a 49-yard connection on play-action to take Lafayette to the 31-yard line. Bissell converted his second 40-yard field goal of the night to pull Lafayette within 13-6.
A special teams miscue by the Delaware punter, who dropped the snap, resulted in the Leopards getting the ball at the home 30. The Leopards could not move the ball, but Bissell came on to boot home a 47-yard field goal. It was Lafayette's longest field goal since 2012 (Ryan Gralish 46-yard vs. Bucknell).
The Blue Hens looked to put away Lafayette with an 85-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter. The Leopards finally slowed the rushing game and forced a 20-yard FG by Raggo. Delaware led 16-9 with six and a half minutes left in the game.
On the ensuing possession, Lafayette moved the ball, as Searfoss hit Dylan Wadsworth, Darrell Crawford and Brown for passes of 16, three and nine yards. The final pass moved the ball inside Delaware territory to the 47. On the next play, Brown took the handoff and was hit by Bilal Nichols who forced a fumble which was recovered by Delaware at the 43.
The Blue Hens salted away the game on the ground, eventually booting through a 22-yard field goal with 28 second left to cap a nine-play, 52-yard drive over the final 4:27. Kareem Williams finished with 14 carries for 93 yards on the night, including 38 on the game-clinching drive.
Lafayette (0-2) returns to action on Sept. 19, hosting Princeton at 6 p.m. at Fisher Stadium.
Players named Kern started at center for both teams, Tanner Kern from Middletown, Conn. for Lafayette and Brody Kern from York, Pa. for Delaware.
Lafayette last played Delaware in 2004 in the NCAA FCS Playoff First Round.