Leopards Alone in First Place After 33-20 Win over Bucknell
Oct. 29, 2005
EASTON, Pa. (www.lafayette.edu) - Brad Maurer threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Joe Ort with 1:47 remaining to break a 20-20 tie, and Tye Murphy provided an insurance score with a 50-yard interception return as Lafayette improved to 3-0 in the Patriot League with a 33-20 win over Bucknell on Saturday afternoon at Fisher Field.
The victory, combined with Colgate's 50-34 loss to Lehigh on Saturday in Hamilton, N.Y., makes Lafayette the last remaining undefeated team in league play. The Leopards, the defending Patriot League champions, will host Colgate next Saturday in a crucial league showdown.
Lafayette led 20-3 early in the third quarter after Ort hauled in a 32-yard touchdown pass from Pat Davis. Bucknell responded with a 38-yard pass from Dante Ross to Kadero Watson with 6:38 remaining in the quarter to cut the margin to 20-10.
On their ensuing possession, the Leopards marched to the Bucknell one-yard line, where Jonathan Hurt was stopped short of the goal line on fourth down.
Bucknell had the next shot to put points on the board but failed to capitalize on an interception and 41-yard return by David Frisbey, who picked off an errant pass by Davis at the six-yard line. A 24-yard run by Josh DeStefano was the key play in drive that moved the ball to the 12-yard line, but Will Carney missed a 29-yard field goal.
The Bison gave Carney another chance on their next possession, and he came through with a 33-yard kick that made the score 20-13 with 6:56 left in the game.
Larry Johnson returned the kick 38 yards into Bucknell territory, but Davis was intercepted on the second play of the series by Matt Palermo. Ross, the 2004 Patriot League Special Teams Player of the Year, hooked up with defensive end/tight end Sean Conover, the Defensive Player of the Year, for a 24-yard touchdown that leveled the score at 20-20 with 4:14 remaining.
Maurer, who was 11-for-14 in the first quarter before being replaced by Davis, returned for the Lafayette offense. After earning one first down, the Leopards faced a third-and-12 and their own 28 when Maurer found Brandon Stanford for a 23-yard gain to the Bison 49. Maurer carried for nine yards on the next play. On second-and-short, Maurer faked the option right, stepped back and lofted the ball to Ort, who had one-on-one coverage to the left side of the field. Ort caught the pass in stride and glided into the end zone for the score, and Matt Korn's extra point gave Lafayette a 27-20 lead.
Murphy's interception came on fourth-and-two, as he jumped the pattern and went 50 yards unmolested down the right sideline for the touchdown.
The Leopards received the opening kick and came out throwing, passing on 14 of their first 19 plays, and Lafayette rolled up 158 yards of offense in the first quarter as Maurer completed his first seven passes of the game for 98 yards. He hit Joe Ort for 12 yards and Brandon Stanford for 26 to open the game and move the Leopards to the Bucknell 43-yard line. Jonathan Hurt fumbled on the next play to end the drive.
Maurer started Lafayette's next possession with a 23-yard pass to David Nelson, and later found Nelson for 10 yards as the Leopards moved 81 yards on eight plays following a Bucknell punt. On the ninth play of the drive, a third-and-five from the seven, Maurer's throw into the end zone was intercepted by Stephen Collage.
Despite their offensive production, the Leopards didn't score until the final play of the period when Stanford returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown. Stanford fielded the ball on the right hash, slipped a tackle to his right, then reversed field and picked up a convoy of blockers down the left sideline to put Lafayette ahead 6-0 as the first quarter clock ran out. Korn's extra point was no good.
Bucknell went 58 yards on 13 plays, using up the first six minutes of the second quarter, and Will Carney made the score 6-3 with a 25-yard field goal with 9:00 left
The Bison forced a three-and-out on the Leopards' next possession and held the ball for 5:20, picking up three first downs along the way, before turning the ball over on downs at the 33-yard line with 1:12 remaining in the half.
Lafayette went 67 yards in 49 seconds, using seven plays to get on the board again before the end of the first half. Davis had a 30-yard pass to Joe Russo on fourth-and-one from the 46, and found Jonathan Hurt in the back right corner of the end zone on the next play to extend the Leopards' lead to 12-3. Korn provided the point after to give Lafayette a 13-3 advantage with 23 seconds showing on the clock.
Ort caught two passes for 58 yards, including the 32-yard touchdown toss from Davis, to complete an eight-play, 74 yard drive to put the Leopards ahead 20-3.
Maurer (14-of-18, 197 yards) and Davis (10-of-19, 161 yards) combined for 358 yards through the air, marking Lafayette's second straight game with more than 300 yards passing. The Leopards threw for 326 yards their last time out against Harvard. Lafayette last threw for 300 yards in two consecutive games in games five and six, vs. Columbia and Harvard, in 2003.
Ort had his second straight 100-yard receiving day, pulling in seven passes for 128 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Stanford made seven catches for 98 yards, and became Lafayette's single-season punt return yardage record holder with 431 yards, passing John Orrico who had 418 yards in 1976. He returned three punts for 90 yards and had 10 yards rushing on an end-around to finish with 198 yards of total offense for the day.
Hurt was the leader on the ground, with eight carries for 50 yards. The Leopards had 26 attempts for 108 yards on the afternoon.
Ross, a converted corner back and accomplished return man, was 18-for-31 for a career-high 275 yards in the passing game. Conover, who began his career at Bucknell as a tight end before moving to the other side of the ball as a sophomore, played both ways and hauled in four passes for 62 yards. He also made four tackles and forced a fumble defensively.
The Leopards held Bucknell's spread option in check, allowing the Patriot League's leading rushing outfit to gain 149 yards on 48 carries.
Lafayette will close its seven-game home schedule against Colgate next weekend. Kick-off from Fisher Field is set for 12:30 p.m.
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