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No. 7/8 Villanova Awaits Leopards on Saturday

Sept. 12, 2017

 Lafayette at No. 7/8 Villanova
 Gameday Info Gameday 
 Date & Time  Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 - 6 p.m.
 Location  Villanova, Pa. | Villanova Stadium
 Tickets  Lafayette Athletics Ticket Office
 Game Notes  Lafayette Get Acrobat Reader | Villanova Get Acrobat Reader
 TV  Lafayette Sports Network (RCN 4/8, 1004/608 HD, WBPH-60 HD)
 Play by Play: Gary Laubach
 Analyst: Mike Joseph
 Sideline: John Leone
 Live Streaming  ESPN3 (LSN telecast)
 Live Stats  GameTracker
 Social Media  Twitter & Facebook

The Match-Up:
Lafayette's schedule gets much tougher on Saturday when the Leopards travel to face No. 7/8 Villanova in the Wildcats' home opener at 6 p.m.

Freshman QB: Freshman Sean O'Malley was under center for the Leopards when the season opened. Since the Patriot League began play in 1986, the Leopards had never started a freshman quarterback in the season opener. The Beverly Hills, Calif. native finished his opening afternoon 27-of-42 for 262 yards with two TD's and two INT's. He threw on 70 percent of the Leopards' 67 offensive plays. In his second outing, O'Malley completed 25-of-44 for 276 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, earning him Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors on Sept. 11.
O'Malley is looking to replace Drew Reed '17, who led the Leopards to their last Patriot League title in his freshman year of 2013 and left College Hill ranked third in career passing yards (7,007) and completions (968) and second in career completion percentage (65.2) after playing in 36 games over four seasons as the starter.

Series Notes: Lafayette and Villanova have played just five times in the Leopards' 136 seasons, but have never met in Philadelphia. Last year's matchup was the first between the two schools since 1920, as the teams met in 1898, 1899, 1914 and 1920. Lafayette holds a 4-1 advantage all-time.

Last Time Out: Sacred Heart racked up 504 yards of total offense, including 287 on the ground, to spoil the Leopards' home opener, 38-24. The Leopards led early, taking advantage of a muffed punt return and a Phillip Parham interception for a 10-0 lead before Sacred Heart rattled off 24 straight points to take control of the game. The teams combined for 233 penalty yards (11-78 for Lafayette and 15-155 for SHU.)

The Garrett Era: John Garrett began his first head-coaching assignment on Dec. 21, 2016 when he was introduced at a press conference on the Lafayette College campus. Garrett brings more than 25 years of coaching experience at the NFL, NCAA FBS and NCAA FCS levels. His most recent stints included offensive coordinator gigs at Richmond and Oregon State. In his first season, Garrett is handling the offensive play-calling duties, taking over a Leopard squad that was 3-19 over the last two seasons.

Third Down: The Lafayette defense has allowed opponents to convert on 52 percent of third-down situations (13-of-25). Offensively, Lafayette is converting at a 41 percent rate (12-of-29).

Mrazek's Marks: Senior WR Matt Mrazek opened the season with nine catches for 80 yards and a TD at Monmouth, but was limited to three catches for 26 yards and a touchdown vs. Sacred Heart. In his last outing, he made his 153rd career reception, moving into sole possession of fourth place on Lafayette's all-time list after passing Phillip Ng '89 (152). He also ascended into a tie for eighth place for career receiving touchdowns (14).
The senior from Illinois holds the record for receiving touchdowns in a game with three twice (CCSU and Holy Cross) in 2016 and ranks seventh for receiving touchdowns in a season (8 in 2016). Mrazek is also tied for third for receptions in a game with 11 and rests fourth in receptions in a season with 71 in 2016.
• Mrazek needs 63 more receiving yards to move into seventh place occupied by Mark Layton '11 (1,780).
• Two more touchdown receptions would bump Mrazek to fifth all-time.
• Mrazek needs seven more receptions to jump into third place for career receptions currently occupied by Phil Yarberough '01 (160).

Hey, Bro: For the second straight season, Rob Hinchen, a senior linebacker, will face his older brother, John, when the Leopards play Villanova. John is in his fourth season as Villanova's punter and is also the team's holder.

Fresh Contributions: Three freshmen have cracked the starting lineup. Sean O'Malley has been under center while Gavin Barclay has played at left guard in both games. Kicker Jeffrey Kordenbrock stepped into the starting kicker role after a week one injury to junior Jacob Bissell. Four other members of the Class of 2021 are in the two-deep as back ups: QB Cole Northrup, TE Jake Taggart, OL Trey Fallon and OL Taron Hampton and Taggart and Northrup have seen limited playing time thus far.

Pair of Picks: Lafayette senior cornerback Phillip Parham has been on his game in the first two outings, picking off a pass in each to run his career total to seven. In the opener, sophomore CB Eric Mitchell also intercepted a pass.

Nationally-Ranked Opponents: Three of Lafayette's 2017 opponents have been ranked in the top 25, but only this week's opponent, Villanova, remains in the top 25 at seventh in the STATS poll and eighth in the FCS Coaches Poll. Villanova was ranked as high as sixth this season in the STATS polls.
Lehigh and Colgate have both spent time in the top 25 and Fordham, Princeton and Harvard are currently all receiving votes in at least one of the polls.

Tackling: The Leopard tackle numbers have been evenly divided in the defense's 4-3 scheme. Senior linebackers Michael Root and Brandon Bryant have 17 and 16 tackles, respectively while sophomore safety Yasir Thomas has 16 stops.

Scoring Drives: The Leopards' scoring drives against Monmouth were lengthy in terms of distance. Lafayette's first touchdown drive covered 73 yards on nine plays over 4:09 and the second score came after an 11-play, 75-yard drive that spanned 2:08. By contrast against Sacred Heart, the first two drives came after turnovers, spanning four plays (-3 yards) over 1:53 and three plays (15 yards) in 1:30, respectively. The final two scoring marches covered 54 yards in nine plays in 2:33 and 57 yards in eight plays in 2:11.

On the Average: A look at the 2017 statistics for the Leopards shows the Lafayette defense giving up 231 yards per game on the ground and 231 yards per game through the air. For Villanova, the Wildcats are allowing just as many points as they are scoring (25.5).

The Opponent: No. 7/8 Villanova is coming off a last-minute loss (16-13) on a 49-yard field goal
to Temple in week two. Villanova was 9-3 overall and 6-2 in CAA play in 2016 while advancing to the NCAA FCS Playoffs second round last season. The Wildcats return 33 letterwinners and 15 starters (nine on offense, six on defense).

Offensively, junior QB Zach Bednarczyk has completed 44-of-64 for 591 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 63 yards and another TD. Defensively, senior Ed Shockley leads the team with 18 stops in two games from his linebacker spot.  

Mark Ferrante (1-1) is in his first season as head coach after replacing the retired Andy Talley who spent three decades on the Villanova sidelines.