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Passing Game Hits Mark in 35-24 win at Wagner

Sept. 26, 2015

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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.. -- Lafayette rallied for a two-touchdown deficit to capture a 35-24 win at Wagner on Saturday at Hameline Field. Junior QB Drew Reed was efficient under center, completing 23-of-34 for 308 yards while throwing for four touchdowns and rushing for a 10-yard score.

It was the first 300-yard passing game since the 2013 regular-season finale when Reed threw for 378 yards en route to MVP honors against Lehigh. Reed's 23 completions on Saturday night moved him to 299 for his career, pushing him past Andrew Shoop (293) for eighth place in career completions.

The Leopards played from behind for most of the game, as Wagner scored on its first two possessions. QB Alex Thompson was responsible for both, running it in to the endzone from 13 yards out five minutes into the game for the first score. On the next drive, Thomspon faked the QB keeper and then pulled it back, hitting Andre Yevchinecz for a 51-yard TD pass. Wagner led 14-0 with 6:51 left in the first.

Needing a score, the Leopards (1-3) got the passing game going on the ensuing drive. With a defender draped on his leg, Reed moved the chains first, finding Joey Chenoweth for a first down. Dylan Wadsworth grabbed a pass amid double coverage to move the Leopards to the Wagner 46.

Wadsworth and Reed again connected to pick up a key third down, taking the ball to the Wagner 17. Wadsworth's final catch of the drive was a 15-yard strike from Reed that put the Leopards on the board, trailing 14-7 with 2:40 left in the quarter.

Wagner (0-3) opened the second quarter with another Thompson TD toss, this time a 16-yard throw to Ralph Greene that put Wagner ahead 21-7 with 12:53 left in the first half. Thompson finished the day 15-of-23-for 219 yards and 2 TD's while running for 78 yards and a TD.

Midway through the second quarter, the defense made its first significant stand. Wagner had the ball 4th-and-3 at the Lafayette 35-yard line. Dennis Bencsko (11 tackles) and Matt Rothrock broke through the line to stop Thomspon for a loss of three. The Leopard offense punted, but the defense was again up to the task, forcing a Wagner punt.

The Maroon and White made the most of the final opportunity of the half, taking over with 3:08 left in the half. The Leopards put together a 64-yard drive over 2:10. Reed tossed it to Chenoweth for a 22-yard touchdown to cut the halftime margin to 21-14. Chenoweth finished the chilly night with a career-high nine catches for 105 yards.

In the second half, the defense created turnovers when it needed them. Senior CB Matt Smalley came up from the corner and tackled tailback Otis Wright, forcing a fumble that Mark Dodd recovered.

Two offensive plays later, freshman WR C.J. Amill got behind the Wagner defense and Reed hit him in stride as Amill fought his way into the endzone to knot the game at 21-21. It was a 44-yard strike on Amill's first career reception.

The Leopards surrendered a 24-yard field goal with just less than five minutes left in the third quarter.

Trailing 24-21, the Leopard offense was again up to the challenge, marching 67 yards on nine plays over four minutes for the go-ahead score. Reed connected with Chenoweth for receptions of 28, 4 and 16 yards, the last one moving Lafayette to the Wagner 18. Kyle Mayfield picked up eight more, leaving Lafayette 2nd-and-goal at the two.

Lafayette stayed with the passing game, as Mrazek's fade-stop saw him battle the defender for the two-yard TD in the corner of the endzone. Jacob Bissell's PAT was true and Lafayette led 28-24 with 13:04 left in the game.

Five minutes into the fourth quarter, the Lafayette defense forced a punt that backed the Leopard offense to its own 1-yard line. After narrowly avoiding a safety, Lafayette faced 3rd-and-10 from the one when Mrazek made a game-changing catch for 22 yards and a first down. The Leopards eventually punted, but Ryan Forrester's 46-yard boot put Wagner inside its own 10-yard line with 4:43 left in the game.

Wagner picked up one first down only to see Jared Roberts pick off a Thompson offering and return it to the Wagner 14-yard line with 2:40 left. Mayfield muscled his way to four yards on first down and Reed took it in himself from 10 yards out and the game-clinching score. Freshman CB Clay Rush picked off another Thompson pass on Wagner's final possession in the 35-24 final.

Lafayette returns to action on Oct. 3, hosting nationally-ranked Fordham at 6 p.m.

NOTES: Long snapper Michael Shiffert and junior punter Ryan Forrester served as the special teams captains.

Chenoweth's 105-yard receving performance was the first 100-plus yard receiving game for a Leopard receiver since Ross Scheuerman did it at Harvard on Oct. 18, 2014.