Leopard Football Outguns Crusaders 31-21 in Frigid Worcester
Nov. 10, 2007
WORCESTER, Mass. - The fourth-ranked defense in the nation held the nation's third-rated offense to 255 total yards and just eight rushing yards as Lafayette claimed a 31-21 win at Holy Cross on Saturday. The win assures Lafayette (6-4, 3-2) of a winning season.
Holy Cross' (6-4, 3-2) offense scored on the first drive of the game, covering 66 yards on nine plays over 3:34. Dominic Randolph completed five passes for 53 yards, including the 14-yard scoring strike to Ryan Maher. Holy Cross led 7-0 at 11:18 in the first. That was the easiest time Randolph would have the entire day, as the Leopard defensive corps brought significant pressure throughout, sacking Randolph twice.
Lafayette's second drive of the game was a mixture of the run and pass and a broken play and a penalty helped the cause. On the drive, Lafayette lined up for a 31-yard field goal, but the snap was low. Holder Michael DiPaola took the ball around the right end and leapt to a first down.
The drive continued as the first quarter ended. Lafayette faced a third-and-goal at the Holy Cross five-yard line. The Crusader defense was whistled for roughing Lafayette QB Rob Curley, giving Lafayette first-and-goal at the two. Three straight running plays put Lafayette at the one-yard line before Brandon Mitchell's second straight plunge over the top of the line tied the game at 7-7. The drive covered 56 yards in 18 plays and took 7:59 off the clock.
Midway through the second quarter, the Lafayette special teams made a huge contribution. Senior Marcel Quarterman broke through the line and blocked Mike Holloway's punt. Tyrell Coon scooped it up and carried it two yards into the end zone. The second of four David Rodriguez PATs handed Lafayette a 14-7 lead.
With six minutes left in the first half, Holy Cross took over on the Lafayette 31 following a punt from the Lafayette end zone. Facing third-and-three, Randolph scrambled in to knot the game at 14-14 with 4:13 remaining in the half.
Lafayette attempted a 37-yard field goal with less than a minute left in the half, but the kick was blocked. Back on defense, the Leopards' Nigel Bryant picked off Randolph and returned it 17 yards. With three seconds left on the clock, Curley and the Lafayette offense took a heave at the end zone, but Holy Cross returned the favor when Kyle Mushaweh picked off Curley's "hail mary" offering to preserve the 14-14 tie.
When the Leopards took the ball to start the second half, they threw two passes and then offered Holy Cross a steady diet of the running game. The Lafayette coaching staff ran the ball 11 straight times with Coon carrying seven times for 42 yards, including the go-ahead score on a four-yard run. Coon finished the chilly afternoon with 20 carries for 96 yards.
With fewer than five minutes left in the third quarter, Lafayette took control of the game. The offense started at the Holy Cross 32 following a punt. On a play-action pass on third-and-two, Curley found a wide open Michael Conte who trotted in from 24 yards out, as Lafayette led 28-14. Curley was 18-for-31 for 185 yards and a touchdown.
Holy Cross answered with a quick strike, scoring on three plays while covering 32 yards. Terrence Gass crossed the goal line for a two-yard score that cut the Lafayette margin to 28-21 with 44 seconds left in the third quarter.
Lafayette opened the final quarter with a nine-play, 35-yard drive that ended in a career-long field goal by Rodriguez. The drive ate up nearly four minutes on clock. As the quarter wound down, the defense continued to shine, stopping one Crusader drive on Bryant's second interception of the day and another time on downs. All told, 15 defensive players registered at least one tackle on the afternoon.
Lafayette closes out the 2007 season with the 143rd meeting of college football's most-played rivalry when the Leopards battle Lehigh on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Goodman Stadium.
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