Leopards Defense Dominant in 14-7 Win over Columbia
Oct. 8, 2005
EASTON, Pa. (www.lafayette.edu) - Jonathan Hurt rushed for a career-high 149 yards and two touchdowns, and the Lafayette defense held Columbia to 82 yards of total offense as the Leopards improved to 5-1 with a 14-7 victory on Saturday afternoon on a rain-drenched Fisher Field.
Nick DeGasperis returned the opening kick 39 yards to midfield, and Columbia marched through the nation's sixth-ranked scoring defense in four plays to cover the rest of the distance to go ahead 7-0. Craig Hormann completed passes to Brandon Bowser for 20 yards and Jamal Russell for 21 around an eight-yard run by Jordan E. Davis, and Davis punched it in from one yard for the touchdown.
From that point, the defending Patriot League champions (2-0 in the PL in 2005) allowed 32 yards on Columbia's final 47 offensive snaps.
Following a three-and-out on Lafayette's first drive, Columbia botched a center-quarterback exchange and Kyle Sprenkle fell on the football at the Lions' 37-yard line. Hurt ripped off runs of 25 and 11 yards, and went across the goal line from a yard out. The extra point by Rick Ziska knotted the score at 7-7 with 11:05 on the clock.
Columbia lost three first-half fumbles, but the Leopards turned the ball over on downs following the second two and the score remained deadlocked at 7-7 going into the half.
Lafayette received the second-half kick and marched 57 yards on 12 plays, culminating in Hurt's second one-yard scoring plunge of the day. Brad Maurer connected with Joe Ort for a 21-yard pass play to give the Leopards a first down at the Columbia 36, and a pair of nine-yard runs by Hurt helped move the ball to the 13-yard line. On third-and-12, Maurer kept the football around left tackle for a 13-yard gain, and Hurt found the end zone on third down to give Lafayette a 14-7 lead.
The Lions recovered fumbles by Hurt in Lafayette territory on consecutive series, but the Leopards' defense held on three plays and forced a punt on both occasions. The second punt gave Lafayette the ball on its own seven-yard line. Maurer converted two first downs on the ground, with runs of 11 and six yards, and then hit Ort for 16 yards. A sack on third-and-six brought Ziska on to punt, and his kick rolled dead at the 20 to change field position.
Columbia ran 11 plays in the fourth quarter for a loss of 11 yards. The Lions' first play of the quarter, following Ziska's punt, was an 11-yard completion to Jim Besselman. Following a one-yard run by Davis, Chris Brungo hit Winters for a loss of four yards, and Dion Witherspoon recorded a sack for a loss of five.
The Lions' final two possessions started inside their own 25-yard line; the first ended with a punt, and the second concluded when Larry Johnson forced a fumble by Hormann on fourth down with 37 seconds left to play.
Anthony D'Urso carried 17 times for 56 yards after the half (21-64 for the game) as the Leopards rolled up 231 yards on 64 carries. Hurt had 29 rushing attempts for 149 yards, and Maurer had nine carries for 21 yards and was sacked twice. He was 7-of-15 passing for 56 yards, with Ort making five catches for 51 yards.
Hormann was 10-for-19 for 61 yards, and Winters completed 4-of-9 for 15 yards. Columbia netted six yards on 23 rushes.
Tad Crawford, who entered the game among the nation's leaders with 12.0 tackles per game, had 15 stops (10 solo) for Columbia. Bayo Aregbe made 11 tackles, and a trio of Lions had nine each.
Maurice Bennett and Blake Costanzo both made seven tackles for the Lafayette defense. Tye Murphy had four pass break-ups, while Larry Johnson had three and Andrew Brown and Trey Martell were both credited with two. Sprenkle, Marvin Snipes and Torian Johnson all recovered fumbles for the Leopards.
Ziska punted eight times for an average of 33.3 yards for Lafayette. Jon Rocholl was called on to punt 11 times, and averaged 34.4 yards with a long of 45.
Lafayette lowered its scoring defense and pass defense numbers, both ranked sixth in the country entering the weekend, to 11.3 points per game and 120.0 yards through the air.
The Leopards debuted their fourth uniform combination through the first six games. They came out in black jerseys for the second time this season, and eschewed their traditional white pants for black as well.
Harvard will serve as Lafayette's Homecoming opponent for the second straight season, with next Saturday's game at historic Fisher Field scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. start.
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