Defensive Battle Sees Leopards Remain Undefeated in League Play
Oct. 7, 2017
EASTON, Pa. -- The Lafayette football team claimed its second straight Patriot League victory, using two fourth-quarter scores to top Fordham 14-10 on Saturday evening at Fisher Stadium.
The Leopards’ defense set the tone for the game, holding Fordham All-American running back Chase Edmonds to 78 rushing yards. Lafayette was led by Brandon Bryant who racked up a game-high 15 tackles, including 13 solo stops, for the second straight game. Bryant, who is the reigning Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week, is averaging 14.3 tackles per game over the last four contests.
The offense held up its end of the bargain as well, as Rocco Palumbo ended the night with nine receptions for 129 yards and two TD’s. Palumbo’s 63-yard touchdown pass from Sean O’Malley with five minutes remaining in the game proved to be the game winner and was the senior’s longest career reception. O’Malley went 29-of-41 for 256 yards and two TD’s and did not throw an interception.
The Leopards’ D stood tall in the first quarter, forced to defend a short field after a short punt and a facemask penalty. Fordham started at the Lafayette 29-yard line. Beau Bosch came up with a sack and Anthony Giudice forced a QB run on 3rd-and-goal at the Lafayette nine. Fordham kicker Andrew Mevis attempted a 29-yard field goal that drilled the right upright and fell short as the game remained scoreless.
The Leopard offense put together a potential scoring drive that spanned the end of the first quarter into the second. After a punt, Lafayette took over at its own 20. O’Malley picked up first downs on throws to Dylan Wadsworth (7 yards) and Joey Chenoweth (9 yards) before running 24 yards to move to the Fordham six-yard line as the second quarter started. Two incompletions and a penalty forced Lafayette to settle for a 29-yard field goal which Jeffrey Kordenbrock converted.
The score was wiped, however, out by a holding penalty and Kordenbrock’s subsequent try from 39 yards was blocked and returned 54 yards to the Lafayette 17-yard line. Three plays later, Fordham got on the scoreboard with a 12-yard pass from Kevin Anderson to Austin Longi for the 7-0 lead which held into halftime. Anderson ended the day 29-of-47 for 277 yards.
Fordham (1-5, 0-1) held the ball for most of the third quarter and extended the lead with a 22-yard field goal. It was a lengthy drive by the Rams who covered 86 yards on 18 plays while running nine minutes off the clock to take a 10-0 advantage with 3:50 to go in the third.
As the fourth quarter opened, the Leopards immediately cut into the lead, scoring on a four-yard pass to from O’Malley to Palumbo that capped an 81-yard drive. Lafayette benefited from a defensive pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-6 at the Fordham 24 that gave Lafayette the ball 1st-and-goal at the eight-yard line. O’Malley hit C.J. Amill for four yards on first down before the short scoring strike to Palumbo. Lafayette trailed 10-7.
Lafayette’s defensive unit managed a huge turnover with 7:12 left in the game as Phillip Parham (nine tackles) picked off Anderson and the Leopards took over at their own 12-yard line. Lafayette picked up 15 yards to the 35-yard line as O’Malley appeared to scramble toward the Lafayette sideline before throwing back to the Fordham sideline and a wide open Palumbo.
On 3rd-and 8 at Lafayette’s 37-yard line, O’Malley hit for a 63-yard pass to Palumbo for the go-ahead score. It was the Leopards’ second-longest play from scrimmage this year and it gave them a 14-10 lead with 5:06 remaining.
The Rams received the ensuing kick-off and marched down the field, taking advantage of a face mask call to jump forward to the 16-yard line. The Maroon and White’s defense answered yet again, as Yasir Thomas broke up Fordham’s first throw to the end zone on third down. On fourth down, the Rams tried the same route to Longi, but Anderson overthrew him to turn it over on downs.
After Lafayette burned some time off the clock, Fordham got the ball back at its own 41-yard line with 55 seconds left to play. The Rams picked up two first downs, but were left with a second down at the Leopard 38 with just three ticks on the clock. Anderson’s final heave, to Jonathan Lumley in the corner of the endzone, was broken up by Izaiah Avent for the win.
The Leopards (2-4, 2-0) play their final non-conference game next Saturday at 1 p.m. when they travel to Harvard.