No. 3 Massachusetts Knocks Lafayette Out of NCAA Division I Football Championship Playoffs

Go Leopards! Brad Maurer threw two touchdown passes for Lafayette in his final game as a starter.
Brad Maurer threw two touchdown passes for Lafayette in his final game as a starter.

Nov. 25, 2006

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AMHERST, Mass. ( - No. 3 Massachusetts rode a stout defensive effort and the legs of senior tailback Steve Baylark to a 35-14 win over Lafayette in the first round of the NCAA Division I Football Championship on Saturday afternoon at McGuirk Alumni Stadium.

Baylark carried 24 times for 152 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter, and Liam Coen was 9-of-15 for 151 yards and three scores for the Minutemen. Meanwhile, the defense limited the Leopards to 201 yards of total offense (61 rushing, 140 passing).

Massachusetts scored on its first three possessions to take a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. Baylark got the ball on six of the first seven plays, gaining 37 yards, and scored on an eight-yard run. The second drive was jumpstarted by a late flag for defensive holding on third-and-seven from the 33, and Baylark scored on a 26-yard run following a 31-yard pass from Coen to tight end Brad Listorti.

Coen extended the margin to 21-0 with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Michael Omar with 13:25 left in the second quarter. Baylark ran for 34 yards on the first play from scrimmage, and the three-play drive covered 74 yards.

Lafayette rallied to pull within a touchdown at halftime, as a pair of turnovers gave the Leopards the ball in UMass territory and senior quarterback Brad Maurer capitalized on the opportunities. An interception and 18-yard return by Torian Johnson gave Lafayette the ball at the 34 with 3:08 left before the half, and Maurer hit Shaun Adair for a 26-yard touchdown.

Courtney Robinson broke the ensuing kickoff near midfield, but Adrian Lawson knocked the ball loose and Adair fell on it at the 43-yard line. Maurer hooked up with Duaeno Dorsey for a 31-yard scoring pass following a short completion to Hurt and a pass interference penalty.

Both defenses locked down after halftime, forcing punts on the first three possessions, before linebacker Jason Hatchell forced a fumble by Duaeno Dorsey at the 29. Massachusetts' scoring drive was assisted by a pass interference penalty on third-and-six from the 12, and Coen tossed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Ian Jorgensen to go ahead 28-14 with 2:01 left.

A 59-yard interception return by James Ihedigbo set up an 18-yard scoring pass from Coen to Brandon London with 5:26 left to establish the final margin. Massachusetts advances to play New Hampshire, which won 41-38 at Hampton on Saturday.

Lafayette's senior class compiled a four-year record of 27-20 and will leave College Hill as the three-time defending Patriot League champions.

Game notes
* Maurer was 18-of-33 for 140 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. He became the fifth quarterback in Lafayette football history to throw for 5,000 yards in his career, finishing with 5,114. Maurer also ran for 1,209 yards in his three years as a starter, raising his career total offense total to 6,323, good for 12th in Patriot League history.
* Maurer had a pass batted down on a third down play in the third quarter, which he caught for a loss of 11 yards. Fortunately for Maurer, receiving yards are not included when calculating total offense.
* Senior tailback Jonathan Hurt, the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, was limited to 41 yards on 16 carries by the nation's second-ranked rushing defense. Hurt managed to enter the 10th spot in Lafayette's single season rushing list with 1,165 yards, displacing Joe McCourt's 2003 season of 1,157 yards. McCourt maintains the ninth spot with 1,193 yards, which he accumulated during the 2004 Patriot League championship season in which he was named the Offensive Player of the Year.
* Senior wide receiver Joe Ort left the game after an eight-yard reception in the first quarter with back spasms and did not return. The book on Ort's final season closes with 814 yards, seventh on the single-season list, and his 50th catch of the season forged a three-way tie for ninth. He had 96 catches in his career, three short of 10th, and his 1,551 receiving yards are good for eighth in the record books. He also ranks in the top 10 for yards per catch in both a season and a career.
* Adair caught six passes, a career-high, for 74 yards and scored the seventh receiving touchdown of his career. Adair made the 50th catch of his career and now qualifies for qualifies for the career yards per catch list, with a 16.2-yard average. The sophomore has 893 yards on 55 receptions through the first two years of his career.
* Dorsey had three catches for 50 yards and scored his second career touchdown. He will enter his senior season as Lafayette's second-most experienced receiver, alongside Adair.
* Lafayette's longest drive went 51 yards, before the interception and return by Ihedigbo set up Massachusetts' final score. The pick came on third-and-17 from just inside midfield. The Leopards had at least one scoring drive of 80 or more yards in nine of their 11 regular season games.
* The Lafayette offensive line held up well under the pressure of Massachusetts' pass rush, which was 12th in the nation with 30 sacks in 11 games. The Leopards surrendered only one sack while Maurer threw the ball 33 times, while running twice on scrambles and twice on designed plays.
* Senior tri-captain Justin Stovall led the defense with 11 tackles, while Johnson made nine tackles and also had a pass breakup to go with his interception. Linebackers Mark Plumby and Andy Romans both had six tackles and a TFL for a loss of three yards.
* Senior safety Trey Martell, who missed five games with a hamstring injury before returning last week against Lehigh, played the final three quarters after junior Marcel Quarterman left the game with a concussion. Quarterman was held out for the rest of the contest for precautionary reasons. Martell had his second sack of the season and the seventh of his career in the third quarter. He also forced a fumble on the play, his third of the season in only seven games and the fifth of his career.



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