Leopard Comeback Comes Up Short in First Loss of 2012
Sept. 29, 2012
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Individually, Mark Ross, had a career day with 13 catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns. The Aliquippa, Pa. native, who was playing in front of a host of hometown fans, tied the Lafayette single-game record for catches, previously held by Mark Layton against Penn in 2010.
Lafayette was forced to play from behind the entire game. The Leopards and Colonials exchanged interceptions in the opening minutes, but it was Lafayette's second turnover that proved costly.
Operating from deep inside Lafayette territory, Shoop connected with Ross who appeared to juggle the ball for an incompletion. The contested play was ruled a catch and a fumble and recovered by RMU's Mike Neilson for a touchdown.
Robert Morris led 14-0 after a 26-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Sinclair to Duane Mitchell in the corner of the endzone. The Leopards sliced the Robert Morris lead in half with a 25-yard touchdown run by Ross Scheuerman. It was the first rushing touchdown of his career for Scheuerman who finished the night with 12 carries for 75 yards.
Robert Morris answered quickly, travelling 72 yards on 10 plays over 4:47 before Sinclair's three-yard pass to Paul Evans made it 21-7. Robert Morris took advantage of Shoop's second interception of the night. Sinclair advanced the lead to 28-7 with an eight-yard run around left end with 7:12 left in the half, a score that held through intermission.
The Leopards received the ball to start the second half and promptly marched it 80 yards on 10 plays. A 30-yard pass from Shoop to Ross extended the drive. The 12-yard strike between the tandem cut the deficit to 28-14 with 9:16 left in the third quarter.
The Leopards kept inching closer to Robert Morris, which was playing the second home night game in school history. Lafayette scored on the opening play of the fourth quarter, a two-yard touchdown pass from Shoop to Ross with 14:55 left in the game. The drive covered 73 yards on 14 plays and took up 6:49 on the clock. Ryan Gralish's PAT was true and the Colonials' lead was seven.
The Leopards' defense built on the momentum, forcing a Robert Morris punt. Lafayette took over at its own 26-yard line with 12:25 left in the game. Shoop, Scheuerman and Ross embarked on a nine-play 74-yard drive that tied the game. The big strike was a 25-yard connection to Ross. On 2nd-and-goal at the 10, Shoop drilled a pass to Rodney Gould to knot the game at 28-28. Shoop finished the day 25-of-38 for 268 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
The teams traded punts on the next two possessions and Robert Morris got the ball back with 2:23 left in the game. At the RMU 22-yrd line, Sinclair (15-of-28 for 201, 2 TD and 1 INT) heaved a pass to Donte Jeter for a 43-yard pickup, putting the Colonials in field-goal range. The RMU offense picked up six more yards before Greg Langer hitting the game-winning 33-yard field goal.
Defensively, five players (Kyni Scott, Kasheem Hill, Mike Boles, Shane Black and Jared Roberts) had seven tackles for the Leopards. Colton Kirkpatrick had an interception in the first half after getting the start at WILL linebacker. Marcelis Branch had 14 tackles with an interception to lead Robert Morris.
Lafayette returns home to host Princeton on Oct. 6 on RCN Community Night at Fisher Stadium. Kick-off is slated for 6 p.m.