Football Upsets No. 5 Fordham, 27-14
||Final Stats | Photo Gallery | Photo Gallery
EASTON, Pa. - A complete team effort, led by five defensive takeaways and 234 yards on the ground, paved the way for Lafayette's upset of unbeaten and No. 5-ranked Fordham, 27-14, on Saturday afternoon at Fisher Stadium. The win is the first against an opponent ranked in the top five in program history.
In addition to the victory, Lehigh's win at Colgate sets up next week's 149th meeting of The Rivalry as a de-facto Patriot League championship game, with the winner capturing the Patriot League crown and the automatic berth to the FCS playoffs.
Holding onto a 17-7 halftime lead, Lafayette held Fordham's fourth-ranked offensive attack to 113 total yards after intermission. Additionally, Fordham (10-1) came into the game with the 12th-highest scoring offense among FCS teams at 39.1 points per game, and the Leopards' defensive unit held the Rams to their lowest total of the season. Senior defensive back DeOliver Davis led the way with two interceptions, while the defense sacked Rams QB Peter Maetzold five times on the day including two from junior DL James Coscia. Senior LB Mike Boles was the top tackler with nine stops and a sack.
On offense, junior tailback Ross Scheuerman racked up 169 yards and two TDs on 23 carries and senior Greg Kessel churned out 41 yards on eight touches to help seal the victory. Through the air, freshman QB Drew Reed threw for 239 yards, going 17-of-32 for one touchdown and four interceptions. Reed's favorite target, senior Mark Ross went over the 100-yard mark for the third time this season as he finished with 115 yards on six catches, including a 49-yard scoring play in the first quarter.
After Fordham missed a field goal on the game's opening possession, Lafayette's first play from scrimmage yielded a Reed to Ross connection for 25 yards. Reed followed that play up with a 27-yard completion to senior TE Brandon Hall to move the offense inside the red zone. The drive stalled and Lafayette settled for a Ryan Gralish 30-yard field to take a 3-0 lead.
The Rams drove to midfield on the ensuing possession before freshman Colin Albershardt forced a fumbled, which was recovered by classmate Draeland James on the Fordham 49-yard line. On the very next play, Reed hooked up with Ross to put Lafayette ahead 10-0 with 8:03 left in the first quarter.
Lafayette had a chance to take a commanding lead when the offense drove down to the Rams' two-yard line early in the second quarter. Fordham came up with an interception in the end zone and began an eight-play, 80-yard drive that lasted just over three minutes. Maetzold hit wideout Brian Wetzel with a screen pass on third-and-5 and Wetzel took it 34 yards to paydirt. The touchdown pass cut the Lafayette lead to three, 10-7, with 10:38 remaining in the half.
Following turnovers by each team, including Davis' first-career pick, the Maroon & White regained the 10-point lead by going 33 yards in five plays. Scheuerman pounded it in from two yards out to give the Leopards a 17-7 advantage with just over five minutes to play in the half. The score was aided by Ross' 17-yard catch and run on third down.
Fordham's next possession ended in similar fashion when sophomore Matt Smalley intercepted Maetzold. The Rams' defense held as Reed and company went three-and-out following the turnover and the score held at 17-7 at the break.
On the first possession of the second half, the Leopards marched inside Fordham territory in large part to a one-handed, 31-yard catch by Justin Adams on 3rd-and-10. However, Reed was picked off on the following play looking for Adams again. Fordham would take over on their own 28 but the Leopards defense held and forced the Rams to punt it back to Lafayette.
After trading punts on five consecutive possessions, the Leopards were the first to get something going offensively in the second half. Lafayette put together a six-play, 77-yard drive that spanned just over two minutes. Scheuerman got the call on four consecutive plays, rushing for 21, 15, 12, and two yards. He ran for 68 yards total on the drive and found the end zone for the second time to put the Leopards in front 24-7 with 2:06 remaining in the third quarter.
Two plays into the fourth quarter, the Leopards defense forced another turnover. Jared Roberts intercepted Maetzold and returned it into Rams territory. Scheuerman rushed it three straight times to begin the drive including an option run for 16 yards. Lafayette moved the ball inside the 10 with back-to-back carries by Kessel. The drive halted and Lafayette settled for a 29-yard field goal by Gralish.
Fordham added a late touchdown and was called for a penalty on the onside kick attempt as Lafayette ran out the clock on the 27-14 upset victory.
The Leopards return to action next Saturday for the 149th meeting of The Rivalry against Lehigh with kickoff scheduled for 12:30 p.m. The Mountain Hawks defeated Colgate on Saturday which eliminated the Raiders from the Patriot League title race. The winner of the Lafayette-Lehigh showdown next week will capture the Patriot League crown and earn a berth to the FCS playoffs.
Prior to the game, Lafayette honored its senior class with a pregame ceremony on the field.
It was the first time Lafayette wore gray pants and maroon jerseys.
Three seniors - Brad Bormann, Pat Crosby and Randall Logan and junior Ross Scheuerman served as captains for the game.
Kessel's six-yard reception in the second quarter was his first catch of the season.
Lafayette forced five turnovers, the most since it had eight against Penn on Sept. 15, 2012.
Lafayette's last win against a top 25 team was Nov. 7, 2009 when the Leopards beat No. 20/18 Colgate.