Light It Up! -- Leopards to Host Marist in Historic Night Game at Fisher Stadium
Aug. 31, 2007
GAME 1 Sept. 1, 2007 MARIST at LAFAYETTE Easton, Pa. - Fisher Stadium (13,132)
Weather.com forecast: clear, high of 81 degrees -- 76 degrees at kick-off; 10 percent chance of rain
Radio: WAEB (790 AM) - Dick Hammer, play-by-play (41st season) - Joe Craig, color analyst (1st season)
Television: Lafayette Sports Network (RCN-4, WBPH-60), Tape Delay on Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh
Satellite: None - Gary Laubach, play-by-play (11th season) - John Leone, color analyst (10th season) - Dan Mowdy, sideline reporter (7th season)
Internet: Live audio and video webcast on www.GoLeopards.com
THE MATCH-UP: Coming through weeks of preseason camp and two-a-day practices, Lafayette football is ready to take the field for the season opener vs. Marist on Saturday at Fisher Stadium. Kick-off is slated for 6 p.m.
LIGHT IT UP: For the first time in the 126 seasons of Lafayette football, the Leopards will play a home night game. The historic game will be followed by fireworks in the night sky over Fisher Stadium. Making history at night is not a new task for Leopard football as Lafayette and Washington and Jefferson played in the first indoor night college football game on Oct. 25, 1930. A crowd of 17,000 witnessed the historic game at the Atlantic City Auditorium.
SEASON OPENING SUCCESS: Lafayette has won five straight season openers for the first time since stringing together nine straight victories to start the year from 1985-1993. The Leopards began their most recent run with a 30-29 win over Monmouth in 2002, then defeated Marist in 2003, 2004 and 2005 (49-0, 48-7, 40-21) before beating Sacred Heart 25-14 in 2006.
EARLY OPENER: The Sept. 1 season opener is the earliest start date in program history. The Leopards opened in early October until the turn of the 20th century, in late September until 1970, and traditionally began the season on the second Saturday in September until 2002. Since 2002, Lafayette has opened on Sept. 7, 6, 4, 2 and 13.
STARTING FIRST...FINISHING ???: Lafayette has been picked first in the Patriot League Preseason Poll as selected by the conference's head coaches and Sports Information Directors. The Leopards edged the other team in the Lehigh Valley by one point (63-62) with Lafayette receiving six first-place votes and Lehigh five. The last time Lafayette was selected to win the league title was 1995, and the last time the preseason pick won the title outright was 2001 (Lehigh).
THE DRIVE FOR FOUR: Lafayette has won three straight Patriot League titles. Lafayette shared the title with Lehigh in 2004 and 2006, and with Colgate in 2005. The Leopards have won six PL championships in the 22-year history of the league (1988, 1992, 1994, 2004, 2005, 2006). THE ALL-TIME SERIES: Lafayette holds the edge in the all-time series with the Red Foxes. The Leopards have a perfect 4-0 record against Marist. Their most recent win came in a 40-21 win at Marist on Sept. 13, 2005. The Leopards are 3-0 vs. the Red Foxes in Easton.
IN GOOD COMPANY: Lafayette has made three straight appearances in the NCAA Playoffs. Lafayette is one of six programs to appear in the 16-team playoff field in each of the last three seasons, joining Furman, Montana, Hampton, New Hampshire and Southern Illinois. Last season, Lafayette faced No. 3 Massachusetts and trailed just 21-14 at halftime before Massachusetts pulled away for a 35-14 decision. In 2005, the Leopards earned the program's first at-large bid and battled eventual national champion Appalachian State in the first round in Boone, N.C. Lafayette entered the fourth quarter tied at 20-all after leading 17-10 at halftime, before the Mountaineers pulled out a 34-23 victory. Appalachian State went on to win the I-AA championship, 21-16 over Northern Iowa. In 2004, Lafayette led defending national champion Delaware 14-13 in the final quarter before a Blue Hen touchdown, then drove inside the 20 looking for the tying score when a fumble return for a touchdown produced the final 28-14 margin.
MISSING THE HURT?: It remains to be see what impact the loss of tailback Jon Hurt will have on the Lafayette running game. Hurt, the 2006 Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, left the school sixth in career rushing yards (2,534) and third in career rushing touchdowns (33). During Patriot League play, Hurt ran for 124.5 yards per game, averaging 6.3 yards per carry, and scored 12 touchdowns in six PL contests. Junior Maurice White, who is a less powerful but speedier, more elusive back, is the heir apparent at tailback. He appeared in 12 games in 2006 and carried the ball 45 times for 282 yards and four touchdowns.
THE QUARTERBACK LOTTERY: With the graduation of Brad Maurer, who was at the helm of three Patriot League titles, a large void is left under center. Maurer, one of the more cerebral players in Lafayette history, is the Lafayette career leader in completion percentage (60.7%). Senior Mike DiPaola will start the game against Marist on Saturday after edging out Rob Curley and Josh Jones during preseason camp. The last time the quarterback position was up for grabs with no experienced player returning was 2004 when Maurer took over the position. Head coach Frank Tavani has not ruled out using multiple signal callers this season or even during a game as he did during the 2005 season with Maurer and senior Pat Davis.
ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE RETURNERS: Lafayette placed 14 players on 2006 All-Patriot League teams and five of those players return in 2007. Seniors Greg Lippert and Jesse Padilla return to anchor the offensive line after second-team selections. Defensively, senior tackle Kyle Sprenkle, senior corner back Adrian Lawson and junior inside linebacker Andy Romans return to the starting lineup. Romans was the only sophomore to earn All-Patriot League honors on defense.
ON THE RETURN: The return game looks to be a strong suit for the Leopards this season thanks mostly to the efforts of junior wideout Shaun Adair. Adair ranked ninth in the nation in punt return yardage in 2006, reeling off 14.4 yards per return. On kick-offs, Adair has shown his abilities when the ball is kicked his way. Adair returned a 90-yard kick for touchdown vs. Georgetown (11/11/06).
AN OFFENSIVE HISTORY: In 2006, Jon Hurt became the sixth Lafayette player to be named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year in the 22-year history of the conference. Joe McCourt (2004), Phil Yarberough (2000), Erik Marsh (1992, 1993), Tom Costello (1989) and Frank Baur (1988) are the others. Marsh is Lafayette's and the Patriot League's all-time leading rusher with 4,834 yards while McCourt ranks second at Lafayette in career rushing (4,474) and Hurt ranks sixth (2,534).
LAFAYETTE'S SEASON AT A GLANCE: The Leopards opened the 2006 season with wins at Sacred Heart (25-14) and Bucknell (31-0), entering The Sports Network poll at No. 25 after the season opener, and moved up to No. 22 the next week on the strength of their consecutive appearances in the I-AA Playoffs. Lafayette then fell on hard times, losing three straight games in which it held the lead or had possession with a chance to go ahead in the fourth quarter, before the bye week on Oct. 7. Then No. 15 Harvard dealt the Leopards a 24-7 defeat the next week, and Holy Cross made it five straight setbacks with a 38-28 win at Fisher Stadium after the Leopards held a 21-7 advantage.
Things turned around at Colgate against a team that owned 10 straight victories against the Leopards. The Leopards trailed 7-0 entering the second quarter when Jonathan Hurt went 64 yards with a screen pass for a touchdown, and he later had an 80-yard run to extend the lead. Lafayette's final drive erased nearly nine minutes off the clock and sealed a 27-10 victory. The Leopards then rolled off wins at Fordham (31-24) and vs. Georgetown (45-14) to set up the 142nd meeting with Lehigh which secured the Patriot League championship. The season wrapped up with a 35-14 road loss to No. 3 Massachusetts in the opening round of the NCAA Playoffs on Nov. 25.
FRIENDS, ANDY, COUNTRYMEN..: The Leopards' defense is led by junior linebacker Andy Romans. Romans ranked fourth in the Patriot League and 24th in the nation with 9.91 tackles per game in 2006. Romans rang up 18 tackles against Holy Cross on Oct. 21, 2006, one of seven games with at least 10 tackles. He finished the season with 109 tackles, nine for a loss, with and interception and a forced fumble.
JOE FULLBACK: Junior Joe Russo has excelled is expected to be an even bigger part of the Lafayette offense this season, after serving as one of the top fullbacks in the league last season. Russo averaged 5.0 yards per carry (27-134) with five touchdowns in 2006 and has also caught 14 passes for 76 yards, including a four-yard touchdown catch against Lehigh (11/18). Russo's breakout game was a five-carry, 49-yard performance once Hurt left the field due to injury at Fordham (11/4/06), as he scored on runs of nine and 32 yards on his first two touches. He also scored on a pair of three-yard runs vs. Yale (9/30/06).
IN THE FRONT ROW: Lafayette placed three of its five starting offensive linemen on the All-Patriot League team in 2006. Two of those players, senior Greg Lippert (LG) and Jesse Padilla (LT) were named to the second-team in their first seasons as starters. Sophomores Michael Wojcik (C) and Ryan Hart-Predmore will be in their first years as starters at center and right guard, respectively. Junior Leo Plenski is expected to hold down the right tackle spot and also handle long snapping duties. He started six of the first seven weeks in 2006. Junior D.J. Brown started the final five games of the season in 2006 and will be the center or guard off the bench.
RUN THE BALL, STOP THE RUN: Lafayette led the Patriot League in rushing defense in league games by a significant margin, allowing only 109.2 yards per game on the ground, with Lehigh a distant second at 148.3. The Leopards trailed Bucknell's spread option offense by less than three yards per game in rushing offense (214.7 to 217.5).
LAFAYETTE RUSHING OPPONENTS RUNNING GAME Rush Yards Avg. TD Rush Yards Avg. TD Bucknell 44 223 5.1 4 41 149 3.6 0 Holy Cross 38 265 7.0 4 31 56 1.8 1 Colgate 34 212 6.2 2 39 142 3.6 1 Fordham 44 163 3.7 2 34 75 2.2 0 Georgetown 36 206 5.7 5 42 130 3.1 1 Lehigh 41 223 5.4 4 30 107 3.6 2 Totals (avg.) 39.5 214.7 5.4 21 36.2 109.2 3.0 4
THE LINEBACKERS: Senior Mark Plumby, junior Andy Romans and sophomore Mark Leggiero give Lafayette a formidable linebacking corps. Romans, an All-Patriot League selection in 2006, led the team and was fourth in the Patriot League in tackles. Plumby was third on the team in tackles after starting all 12 games. Leggiero saw action in 12 games, starting vs. Penn in place of an injured Romans. He collected Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors after making five tackles against Bucknell once Romans left with an injury
LAFAYETTE vs. THE PATRIOT LEAGUE: The Leopards have played 332 games all-time against the six fellow members of the Patriot League, and are 169-147-16 (.533) in those contests. Since the Patriot League began play in 1986, Lafayette is 65-49-1 (.570) vs. member schools and has won league titles in 1988, 1992, 1994, 2004, 2005 and 2006. Lafayette vs. the Patriot League:
Bucknell: 46-32-6 Fordham: 18-6-1 Holy Cross: 13-8-0 Colgate: 10-36-4 Georgetown: 7-3-0 Lehigh: 75-62-5
DOWN ON THE CORNER: Second-Team All-Patriot League performer junior Adrian Lawson started every game but the season opener at corner in 2006. The Hayattsville, Md. native made 37 tackles, 5.0 TFL and recorded six pass break-ups. Junior Marvin Clecidor earned Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week honors on Oct. 30, 2006 following the Colgate game after recording the first interception, forced fumble and sack of his career. Clecidor started the last seven games on the other side of Lawson.
THAT'S IMPRESSIVE: Lafayette's 15-play, 81-yard drive in the fourth quarter against Colgate chewed up nearly nine minutes (8:36) as the Leopards sat on a 24-10 lead, and Rick Ziska's 25-yard field goal put the game away. That drive joins "The Drive" among the most memorable in Frank Tavani's tenure as head coach. Here are some of the others:
Opponent Plays-Yards Time Run/Pass 1st Downs 3rd 4th 2006 at Colgate 15-81 8:36 14/1 6 0 1 2006 at Sacred Heart 15-81 7:44 14/1 6 2 1 2005 at Lehigh 11-88 1:26 1/10 4 2 1 2005 vs. Bucknell 7-83 2:27 3/4 3 1 0 2004 vs. Lehigh 18-80 7:15 11/7 6 2 1 2002 vs. Lehigh 19-74 9:01 16/3 6 2 2 2000 vs. Princeton 6-80 0:45
GOING THE DISTANCE: Lafayette has at least one scoring drive of more than 80 yards in nine of its 12 games in 2006, and 13 drives of that length in all: Lehigh (80), Georgetown (80, 88 and 90), Fordham (80), Colgate (80 and 81), Holy Cross (82), Yale (82), Penn (82 and 99), Bucknell (88) and Sacred Heart (81). Lafayette had only five drives of 80 yards or more in 12 contests in 2005.
THE CAPTAINS: The Leopards elected seniors free safety Marcel Quarterman and defensive tackle Kyle Sprenkle as their captains for the 2007 season. It's the first time during Frank Tavani's head coaching tenure that an offensive player was not a team captain. Sprenkle (Thomasville, Pa.) is in his third year as a starter on the defensive line and collected All-Patriot League honors in 2006. Quarterman, a Philadelphia native, is in his second season as a starter
ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS: Lafayette has won three straight and four of the last six Patriot League Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards. Brad Maurer '07 won the award in 2006, following linebacker Maurice Bennett '05, Stephen Bono '04 and tight end Stewart Kupfer '02. Maurer was also a three-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District II selection and was one of 23 Academic All-District selections in Frank Tavani's eight seasons as head coach.
THE LAFAYETTE-LEHIGH RIVALRY: Lafayette and Lehigh met on the gridiron for the 142nd time on Nov. 18, 2006 at Fisher Stadium, continuing the most-played rivalry in all of college football. The Leopards won the first game 50-0 in 1884 and the schools met twice per season through 1901. They met three times in 1891 and did not play in 1896, the only disruption in the series. They also met twice in 1943 and 1944. Lafayette leads the all-time series 75-62-5 (.546) and is 40-22-5 (.634) when the game is played in Easton. The Leopards have won four of the last five meetings, and have won three straight for the first time since 1953-55.
AND WE GO TO...OVERTIME: Lafayette has played five overtime games and is 1-4 in those contests. After winning the first overtime affair in 1995 over Fordham (24-21 on 11/11/95), the Leopards have lost their last four OT games (11/18/95 at Lehigh - 37-30; 10/18/97 at Cornell - 41-34; 10/3/98 at Dartmouth - 13-10; 9/8/01 at Towson - 16-13).
HISTORIC FISHER FIELD: Fisher Field, now dubbed Fisher Field at Fisher Stadium, has hosted the College's home football games since 1926. The facility has undergone a $23 million transformation that gives Lafayette one of the premier FCS football venues in the nation. New spectator seating has been built throughout the venue, including chairback seating in select areas, and additional visitors seating has been added for a maximum capacity of 13,132 fans. A state-of-the-art in-fill synthetic surface, lights, a press box and a 19-by-35 foot video board were installed, and improved restroom and vending areas were also included. The Bourger Varsity Football House includes a locker room, offices and team meeting rooms, as well as sports medicine and strength and conditioning areas.
Now in its 81st season, Fisher Stadium has been host to 392 Lafayette football games with the Leopards enjoying an overall record of 233 wins, 146 losses, and 13 ties for a winning percentage of 61.1%. Of the previous 79 seasons, Lafayette has produced 12 undefeated home seasons with the most recent being the 1992 Patriot League champion Leopards that went a perfect 5-0-- the first undefeated home season for Lafayette at Fisher Stadium since 1970. During the 1991, 1992, and 1993 seasons, Lafayette won 10 straight home games--tying the Fisher Stadium school record for consecutive wins first set 1926 and 1927 in the first 10 games ever played in the stadium.
LAFAYETTE FOOTBALL, 126 YEARS OF TRADITION: Since fielding its first college football team in the fall of 1882, Lafayette has had a proud, colorful gridiron tradition on the way to a total of 622 victories. Lafayette ranked 34th among all college football teams in all-time wins entering the 2007 season, posting its first win in 1883 (25-0 vs. Rutgers), and accumulated 100 victories by 1900, 200 by 1915 and 300 by 1934.
A HISTORY OF CHAMPIONS: The Lafayette football program has claimed three national championships -- 1896, 1921 and 1926 -- and recorded five undefeated seasons -- 1896 (11-0-1), 1921 (9-0-0), 1926 (9-0-0), 1937 (8-0-0) and 1940 (9-0-0). Of recent note, the Leopards have won five Patriot League championships -- 1988, 1992, 1994, 2004 and 2005 -- and made their first two postseason appearances in the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs.
LAFAYETTE'S FOOTBALL INVENTORS: Two primary elements of the game of football -- the helmet and the huddle -- were invented by former members of the Lafayette football program. George "Rose" Barclay from the class of 1898, one of Lafayette's all-time great running backs, invented the helmet when the "threat of cultivating cauliflower ears" led him to piece three thick leather straps around his head for the 1896 game against Penn. Former Lafayette coach Herb McCracken (1924-35; 59-40-6) devised the first huddle system during the 1924 season after learning the Pennsylvania football team had stolen Lafayette's signals. Lafayette became the first team to huddle before each play and this system was immediately adopted by other teams.
Lafayette Athletics, as a partner in the mission of the College, provides an incredibly effective learning experience for student-athletes through competitive NCAA Division I athletics. Lafayette sponsors 23 varsity sports with more than 600 student-athletes.Mission Statement | Leopard Tradition | Staff Directory | Feedback | Ask the AD
The Lafayette Sports Network (LSN) handles all multimedia elements and advertising sales for athletics at Lafayette College. LSN is the Patriot League leader in delivering high-quality programming worldwide via television, radio, streaming video and satellite.Advertising and Sponsorships | Digital Media | LSN TV & Radio Affiliates