Lafayette Football Season Starts on the Road at Marist on Saturday Night
Sept. 4, 2008
EASTON, Pa. - Lafayette football opens the season against Marist on Saturday night for the fifth time in six seasons. The Leopards have won their season-opening game six consecutive times and look to continue the trend in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. at 6 p.m.
THE MATCH-UP: After over a month of practice, the Lafayette Leopards are ready to line up for their season opener at Marist on Saturday night. The Red Foxes are 0-1, coming off a 40-22 loss at San Diego on Saturday. Lafayette finished the 2007 season with a 7-4 overall mark, 4-2 in conference play and in a second place tie in the Patriot League standings.
LET'S OPEN THIS THING UP: Saturday's game will mark the fifth time in six seasons that Marist has been Lafayette's first test of the season. Lafayette has won six straight season openers for the first time since stringing together nine straight victories 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, 2005 and 2007 (49-0, 48-7, 40-21, 49-10) and also beat Sacred Heart in 2006 (25-14).
STANDING OUT IN THE CLASSROOM: Under head coach Frank Tavani, Lafayette football players have excelled as student-athletes. Twenty-three have earned CoSIDA Academic All-District selections. In 2007, Lafayette had 21 student-athletes qualify for the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll for which they must achieve a minimum of a 3.2 GPA and earn a varsity letter. In the spring semester, 51 members of the team achieved a 3.0 or better GPA, including seven who qualified for the Dean's List. Overall, the team sported a 2.99 GPA, the highest in the program's history since the Academic Resource Center began charting team GPA's in 1992.
CHECK THOSE SCOREBOARD BULBS: In the last four meetings between Lafayette and Marist, the Leopards have averaged 46.5 points per game while holding their opponent to 9.5 points per game.
PRESEASON POLL: Lafayette has been picked fourth in the Patriot League Preseason Poll as selected by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors. In 2007, Lafayette was selected to finish first, but ended second. The last time the preseason pick won the title outright was 2001 (Lehigh).
ROMANS CAN PLAY A LITTLE BIT: Senior linebacker Andy Romans is the Leopards' most highly-decorated returner. Romans was the 2007 Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year and is the conference's pick to repeat. He has also secured preseason All-America honors from The Sports Network and College Sporting News.
PEOPLE ARE WATCHING: Senior Andy Romans, a senior history major, has been named to the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List. The award is given out to the top defensive player in the nation at the FCS level. The list will be revised several times throughout the season. Currently there are 14 linebackers on the list. Lafayette's Maurice Bennett '06 finished eighth in the voting for ther national award in 2005.
ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE RETURNERS: Lafayette placed 11 players on the All-Patriot League first and second teams in 2007. Six of them return for the 2008 season led by 2007 Defensive Player of the Year, Andy Romans, junior LB Mark Leggiero and senior CB Marvin Clecidor. On the offense, there are also three returning All-Patriot League selections led by senior co-captain and fullback Joe Russo, senior TE Michael Conte and senior WR Shaun Adair.
ABOUT THE DEFENSE: Lafayette boasted the No. 1 ranked defense in the nation in 2007. The Leopards, under the direction of defensive coordinator John Loose, allowed just 260.1 yards of total offense per game (first in the nation), 84.9 yards on the ground (fourth in the nation), 16.9 points per game (eighth in the nation) and a pass efficiency rating of 108.3 (15th in the nation). Linebacker Andy Romans ranked 25th in the nation in tackles in 2007 with 10.3 per game.
2007 Game By Game Opponent Rushing Yds. Passing Yds. Total Yds. Points Marist -14 100 86 10 at Georgetown 74 131 205 7 at Penn 103 121 224 7 Princeton 166 190 356 20 Columbia -13 193 180 0 at Harvard 116 174 290 27 Fordham 85 323 408 34 Colgate 237 174 306 36 Bucknell 66 90 156 7 at Holy Cross 8 247 255 21 at Lehigh 106 138 244 17 AVERAGES 84.9 175.2 260.1 16.9THE OVERLOOKED LB: When you are lining up with Andy Romans a couple of steps away, it's easy to be overlooked, even with solid numbers. Despite an All-Patriot League Second-Team selection in 2007, that may be the case for junior Mark Leggiero. Leggiero started all 11 games and finished second on the team in tackles (77) and tackles for loss (6.5), trailing Romans in both categories. Leggiero finished fifth in the Patriot League in total tackles last season. In 2006, he was the program's rookie of the year, playing in all 12 games on special teams and as the top backup at linebacker.
THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD: Seniors Marvin Clecidor and Nigel Bryant will be looked to as the leaders of the defensive backfield. Clecidor is a returning All-Patriot League Second-Team selection at cornerback. He led the team and was second in the Patriot League in passes defended and also finished with two interceptions. Bryant started every game at strong safety and led the team with three interceptions. Juniors Carlos Lowe and Eric McGovern and look to start the season at cornerback and free safety, respectively.
THE QUARTERBACK: Junior Rob Curley played his way into the starting quarterback role in 2007 season and reinforced that work with a strong spring season and training camp. Curley was the team's starting QB for the final four games of 2007. He completed 62 percent of his passes (77-124), threw seven touchdowns, ran for two scores and was picked off twice. Curley was named the MVP of the 143rd meeting of Lafayette-Lehigh after leading the game-winning drive. Sophomore Marc Qulling is slotted as the backup.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES: Lafayette has never lost a game to Marist, holding a 5-0 edge in the all-time series with the Red Foxes. Lafayette won last season's matchup 49-10 in the first night game in Fisher Stadium history, and the program's earliest opener. The Leopards are 2-0 vs. the Red Foxes in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. JOE FULLBACK: Senior Joe Russo is easily the most experienced fullback in the Patriot League. The Utica, N.Y. native enters his third season as a starter at the position where his primary responsibility is as a lead blocker for the Lafayette running game. Running the ball has also been a strength as he averaged 4.8 yards per carry (26-126) with a touchdown in 2007 while also catching 12 passes including two scores. As a sophomore, Russo averaged 5.0 yards per carry (27-134) with five touchdowns in 2006 and also caught 14 passes for 76 yards.
THE TAILBACK?: The Leopards corps of tailbacks not only led the rushing game in 2007, but also in time spent in the training room by position. Lafayette employed six different tailbacks in the starting spot with Maurice White starting four games, graduated seniors Anthony D'Urso and Brandon Mitchell each starting one, DeAndre' Morrow and Tyrell Coon two apiece and Matt Ferber one. White, who missed seven games due to injury, maintains junior eligibility and is currently at the top of the depth chart followed by Coon and Morrow.
ON THE LINE: The Leopards return four linemen who started six or more games in 2007. Junior Ryan Hart-Predmore who played right guard last season is now at left tackle. Brian Wycinowski will hold down the left guard spot. Junior Mike Wojcik will snap the ball to Rob Curley after starting seven games last year. A pair of seniors with starting experience, Leo Plenski and Joe Moore, are expected to start at right tackle and guard, respectively.
THE KICKER: Sophomore Davis Rodriguez will reprise his role as the team's placekicker. Rodriguez was 8-for-13 in 2007, including a career long of 41 yards. Rodriguez converted 31-of-33 PATs and was the team's leading scorer with 55 points. The St. Petersburg, Fla. native received Patriot League Special Teams Player of the Week honors twice in 2007 and kicked the game-winning field goal at Penn (9/15). Junior Chris Cosgrove will handle the kickoff duties as he did for much of 2007.
THE PUNTER: In 2007, Lafayette was ranked 23rd in the nation punting thanks to the legwork of David Yankovich '08. He averaged 34.7 yards per punt and put 16 balls inside the 20. His replacement this season is sophomore Tom Kondash who was an all-state selection at State College (Pa.) High School. Kondash has not yet punted in a collegiate game, but impressed the coaching staff during spring ball.
LAST TIME OUT: Trailing 17-14 with nine minutes remaining in the game, the Lafayette offense put together a 13-play, 80-yard drive that locked up Lafayette's fourth consecutive victory over Lehigh on Nov. 22 in college's football's most-played rivalry. The Leopards rolled up 374 yards of offense in the dramatic 21-17 triumph in the 143rd meeting between the two schools. QB Rob Curley led the game-winning drive and hit Kyle Roeder for a three-yard touchdown pass with 2:53 remaining in the game. The defense came through on Lehigh's final possession, stuffing the Mountain Hawks on four downs to end the game. Curley earned game MVP honors, finishing his fourth start of the season 15-for-25 for 257 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The win gave Lafayette four straight over Lehigh for the first time since 1946-1949 and the Leopards own the all-time series 76-62-5. The teams played in front of a crowd of 16,022 at Goodman Stadium.
ADAIR SET TO MAKE HIS RETURN: Senior Shaun Adair finished seventh in the nation in punt returns last season. He averaged 14.0 yards per punt return and was ranked first in the conference in that statistical category. Against Marist in 2007, Adair ran back a punt 78 yards for his first career punt return for touchdown (and the longest punt return of his career). Adair also returns kicks for the Leopards, averaging 18.4 yards per return in 2007 down from the previous two seasons when he chugged away for 23.8 yards per kick as a freshman and a 25.5 as a sophomore. For his career, Adair averages 21.8 yards per return. He returned a 90-yard kick for touchdown vs. Georgetown in 2006.
SCORPIO SUCCESS: The Leopards were a perfect 3-0 in the month of November in 2007, continuing their record of closing the season on a strong note. Excluding postseason games, Lafayette holds a 10-2 record in November over the past four seasons with both losses coming to Colgate:
2004: 2-1 2005: 2-1 2006: 3-0 2007: 3-0
100-YARD CLUB IN 2007: Lafayette had three ballcarriers reach 100 yards in a game last season with Matt Ferber topping the century mark vs. Bucknell (26-102), Maurice White vs. Penn (27-107) and Anthony D'Urso vs. Princeton (14-117). By contrast in 2006, Lafayette had five games in which a running back (Jon Hurt) ran for 100 yards or more.
BACK IN BLACK: The Leopards have never lost in black jerseys and save the color for special occasions. They wore black to beat Lehigh in 2004 and again in 2006 to win Patriot League titles. Fordham was also victim to the black jerseys in 2005. The only other time they've paired black jerseys with black pants was in what has been dubbed "the mud bowl" against Columbia in 2005, a 14-7 victory. The Leopards pulled out the black pants against Holy Cross in week 10 in 2007 and continued their winning streak by beating the Crusaders 31-21.
ADAIR ASCENDING ALL-TIME LISTS: Coming into his senior season, WR Shaun Adair already ranks in the top 10 in career receiving yards (1,431) and is poised to break into the top 10 in career receptions. Adair has 93 career catches, needing just seven more to take over 10th spot from Jamal Jordan '93 who has 99. Barring injury, Adair should push his way into Lafayette's top five in career receptions and career receiving yards.
PATRIOT LEAGUE TITLES: Lafayette won three straight Patriot League titles in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Lafayette shared the title with Lehigh in 2004 and 2006, and with Colgate in 2005. The championships also led to three straight NCAA Playoff appearances, making Lafayette one of six teams in the country to appear in the 16-team field in three straight years. The Leopards have won six PL championships in the 23-year history of the league (1988, 1992, 1994, 2004, 2005, 2006).
LIGHT IT UP: Lafayette's season-opening win over Marist in 2007 marked the first home night game in 127 seasons of Lafayette football. The historic game was followed by fireworks. Making history at night is not a new feat 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 game at the Atlantic City Auditorium.
LAFAYETTE vs. THE PATRIOT LEAGUE: The Leopards have played 336 games all-time against the six fellow members of the Patriot League, and are 173-148-16 (.533) in those contests. Since the Patriot League began play in 1986, Lafayette is 68-50-1 (.570) vs. member schools and has won league titles in 1988, 1992, 1994, 2004, 2005 and 2006. Lafayette vs. the Patriot League:
Bucknell: 47-32-6 Fordham: 18-7-1 Holy Cross: 14-8-0 Colgate: 10-37-4 Georgetown: 8-3-0 Lehigh: 76-62-5THE CAPTAINS: The Leopards elected senior LB Andy Romans and senior FB Joe Russo as their captains for the 2008 season. Romans is a two-time All-Patriot League selection and the 2007 Defensive Player of the Year. Russo, too, is a twice-honored all-league player and is in his third year as a starter.
ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS: Lafayette has won four of the last seven 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 nine seasons as head coach.
AND WE GO TO...OVERTIME: Lafayette has played five overtime games all-time 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 STADIUM: Fisher Stadium has hosted the College's home football games since 1926. The facility underwent a $23 million transformation that gave Lafayette one of the premier FCS football venues in the nation. New spectator seating was built, including chairback seating in select areas, and additional visitors' seating was 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 399 Lafayette football games with the Leopards enjoying an overall record of 237-149-13 for a winning percentage of .609. Of the previous 81 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, 127 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 633 victories (633-536-39). Lafayette ranks 33rd among all college football teams in all-time wins entering the 2008 season, posting its first win in 1883 (25-0 vs. Rutgers). Lafayette accumulated 100 victories by 1900, 200 by 1915 and 300 by 1934.
A HISTORY OF NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 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 six Patriot League championships -- 1988, 1992, 1994, 2004, 2005 and 2006 -- and made their first three postseason appearances in the NCAA FCS 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 LEADS NATION IN TELEVISED GAMES IN FCS: The Lafayette Sports Network, a national leader in Division I FCS television coverage, will televise all 11 regular-season Lafayette football games live for the sixth straight year on RCN-4 and WBPH-60 in eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey. Now in its 12th year of existence, LSN has become a staple for Leopard fans in the Lehigh Valley and across the country. Nationally, Lafayette Sports Network telecasts will be picked up for the ninth straight year by DIRECTV and DISH Network outlets, available to more than 60 million viewers. Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh (DIRECTV Channel 628, DISH Network Channel 428) will carry two of the Leopards' broadcasts in of September - games at Marist on Sept. 6 and vs. Penn on Sept. 27. The games will air at noon on the Monday following the game on the regional sports network which reaches 2.3 million cable and satellite homes in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland. The remaining nine games - including the Georgetown contest and all of the games in October and November - will be carried by the Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN). MASN will broadcast the Liberty game live on Oct. 18. MASN's second live broadcast will be the 144th meeting of college football's most-played rivalry when Lafayette and Lehigh square off at Fisher Stadium. The Leopards are looking to make it five straight over the Mountain Hawks and will kick off at 1 p.m. The other seven games will be shown on the Tuesday following each game at 8 a.m. See a complete broadcast schedule on the following page. MASN is available regionally and nationally on DIRECTV channel 626 and DISH Network channel 432. The network is the official television home of the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals and Baltimore Ravens and reaches nearly 6 million homes in a seven-state region, from Harrisburg, Pa. to Charlotte, N.C. Gary Laubach will handle all of the Leopards' play-by-play duties for the 12th straight season. John Leone has provided color analysis for all but the first year on the air. In his eighth year as a member of the announcing crew is Dan Mowdy, who is fresh off a gymnastics public address announcing stint at the Beijing Olympics. He will report from the Fisher Stadium sidelines. Mowdy will also be joined by RCN's Scott Barr for select telecasts.
INSIDE LAFAYETTE FOOTBALL: LSN-TV will premiere Inside Lafayette Football on Sept. 4 at 5:30 p.m. and can be seen every Thursday evening at 5:30 p.m. throughout the season as well as 30 minutes prior to kickoff of all Lafayette contests. Laubach will sit down with head coach Frank Tavani, as well as select student-athletes to discuss the Lafayette football program.
LAFAYETTE SPORTS NETWORK ALL-ACCESS: Each LSN telecast will be available live through LSN All-Access, which streams the game worldwide to any high-speed internet connection. In all, more than 60 Lafayette athletic contests, as well as Inside Lafayette Football, are scheduled to be broadcasted through Lafayette All-Access this year for a rate of $6.95 per month and $49.95 for the entire year. The CBS College Sports Online XXL package, which includes content from all CBS College Sports Online member schools, is available for $119.95 annually.
LAFAYETTE ON THE RADIO: The Lafayette Sports Network entered into an agreement with WAEB-AM 790 and WSAN-AM 1470 of Clear Channel Communications and WGPA AM-1100 to broadcast 2008 Lafayette football. The deal places Lafayette on the top two rated AM stations in the Lehigh Valley. See a complete broadcast schedule below. Veteran broadcaster Dick Hammer is in his 42nd season as the Leopards' play-by-play man and will be joined in the booth at home games by Joe Craig, long-time football analyst and former coach, and by Lafayette SID Phil LaBella on the road. RADIO AND TV BROADCAST SCHEDULE
DATE OPPONENT KICKOFF RADIO TV 9/6 at Marist 6 p.m. WAEB 790* LSN/FSNP 9/13 GEORGETOWN 6 p.m. WAEB 790* LSN/MASN 9/20 OPEN 9/27 PENN 6 p.m. TBA LSN/FSNP 10/4 HARVARD 1 p.m. WGPA 1100 LSN/MASN 10/11 at Columbia 12:30 p.m. WAEB 790 LSN/MASN 10/18 at Liberty 3:30 p.m. WGPA 1100 LSN/MASN 10/25 at Fordham 1 p.m. WAEB 790 LSN/MASN 11/1 at Colgate 1 p.m. WAEB 790 LSN/MASN 11/8 at Bucknell 1 p.m. WGPA 1100 LSN/MASN 11/15 HOLY CROSS 1 p.m. WGPA 1100 LSN/MASN 11/22 LEHIGH 1 p.m. WGPA/WSAN 1470 LSN/MASN
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