Ivy Test Awaits in Princeton
Sept. 13, 2016
| Lafayette at Princeton
|Gameday Info||GoLeopards.com Gameday|
|Date||Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 at 5 p.m.|
|Location||Princeton, N.J. | Princeton Stadium|
|Tickets||Lafayette Athletics Ticket Office|
|Game Notes||Lafayette | Princeton|
|TV|| Lafayette Sports Network (RCN 4/8, 1004/608 HD, WBPH-60 HD)
Gary Laubach, Mike Joseph, John Leone
|Live Streaming|| ESPN3, GoLeopards.com
Gary Laubach, Mike Joseph, John Leone
|Live Stats||Princeton Live Stats|
|Social Media||Twitter & Facebook|
The Match-up: Lafayette's (1-1) meeting with Princeton is a 5 p.m. kickoff in a game that can be seen on ESPN3. It is the Tigers' season opener, as the Ivy League joins the gridiron action in week three of the college football season.
In the Middle of It: Junior WILL linebacker Brandon Bryant continues to show why he is considered one of the top defensive players in the conference. The Cherry Hill, N.J. native made 13 stops with a sack against Delaware, a year removed form his career-best 18-tackle performance against the Blue Hens. Junior MIKE linebacker Michael Root was in on a career-high 10 stops against Delaware in the second start of his career.
Punting Performance: It's often a mixed bag when the punter is the standout performer in a game and that was the case vs. Delaware. On a night when the Leopard offense struggled to move the ball, senior Ryan Forrester made the most of his nine punting opportunities, averaging 43.3 yards per punt. Forrester had two punts of 50-plus yards and landed three punts inside the 20-yard line (including one at the 3-yard line).
Reed's Reads: Senior Drew Reed emerged from camp as the starting quarterback and he showed why at Central Connecticut State. He completed 31-of-42 (both career highs) for 316 yards and three touchdowns. His 74 percent night did not include an interception. It was the third 300-yard passing game of his career.
For his efforts, Reed garnered Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week (9/5)honors, the third time in his career that he achieved the weekly acclaim and the first time since his freshman season of 2013 when he finished as the Patriot League Rookie of the Year runner-up.
NFF Finalist: The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame has named freshman QB Austin McCrum one of the 37 national finalists for the 2016 NFF National High School Scholar-Athlete Awards. The award recognizes one player from each of the country's five regions and is selected based on accomplishments as athletes, scholars and citizens at the high school level. The finalists all graduated from high school in 2016 and are playing college football. The five winners will be announced the week of Oct. 3.
McCrum was a two-time All-State and All-Conference (SMAA) honoree who helped lead his team to state titles in 2014 (9-1) and 2015 (10-1). He was USA Today's Maine Player of the Year in 2015 and the SMAA Player of the Year in 2015. McCrum threw for 1,650 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior and followed with 1,956 yards and 22 TD's in 2015.
Reed for 5K: With 316 passing yards at Central Connecticut State, Drew Reed moved into sixth place at Lafayette for career passing yards. With 5,344 career yards, he needs 53 yards to take over fifth place occupied by Rob Curley '10. He passed Shawn McHale '97 who had 4,970 yards and three-time Patriot League champion Brad Maurer '07 with 5,114 yards, to become the seventh Lafayette quarterback to throw for 5,000 yards.
Last Time Out: Deleware's grinding rushing game got the best of the Leopards down the stretch, as two Blue Hen backs combined for 229 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-6 final. Jacob Bissel's two field goals represented all of the Leopards' points, as the sophomore has made five field goals against the Blue Hens in two games.
Camp to Competition: Junior WR Matt Mrazek was singled out by the Leopard coaching staff as having an outstanding camp and it has continued into the season. At Central Connecticut, Mrazek made six catches for 93 yards and three touchdowns, the first three-touchdown performance since Mark Ross did it on Oct. 26, 2013. Against Delaware, he had eight catches for 59 yards.
Mrazek was the team's wide receiver MVP in 2015, starting seven of the eight games he played before missing the final three and a half after fracturing his clavicle. Despite missing that time, he led the team in receiving yards (495) and had the second-most catches on the team with 44.
Princeton will be one of the last teams in the country to kick off in 2016 as week three of the college football season begins. The Tigers will play 10 straight weeks, traveling to Lehigh on Sept. 23 and Georgetown on Oct. 8 while the remaining seven weeks will pit them against Ivy League competition.
Princeton is coming off a 5-5 mark in 2015 and a 2-5 finish for sixth place in the Ivy League. The Tigers managed wins over Lafayette, Lehigh, Columbia, Colgate and Cornell, while dropping games to Brown, Harvard, Penn, Yale and Dartmouth.
The Tigers return seven starters on offense and seven on defense while welcoming back 37 letterwinners. Princeton was picked to finish fifth of eight teams in the Ivy League preseason poll.
The Princeton offense averaged 29 points per game last season and ranked second in the conference in total offense (413.8 ypg).
Senior Chad Kanoff returns as the Tigers' signal caller. He completed 203-of-355 passes last season for 2,295 yards while throwing for eight touchdowns and seven interceptions.
In the run game, senior TB Joe Rhattigan returns after playing in eight games last season in which he managed 612 yards on 122 carries with seven touchdowns. Junior QB John Lovett is Princeton's running QB, accumulating 286 yards on 44 carries with a team-leading nine touchdowns in 2015. Lovett only threw 15 times, completing 11. Lovett is also a top receiving threat, corralling 25 balls for 318 yards and a touchdown.
Senior WR Isaiah Barnes emerged as a top receiver last season, leading the team with 33 catches for 466 yards and two scores.
Defensively, the linebacking corps is stacked with seniors Luke Catarius, Rohan Hylton (both All-Ivy selections) and R.J. Paige and Birk Olson. Senior FS Dorian Williams is the top returning tackler (91 tackles) on a team that has nine seniors and two juniors listed as starters in the defensive two-deep.
Princeton is coached by Bob Surace (Princeton '90) who begins his seventh season as the head coach at his alma mater and ninth season overall. He holds a 25-35 mark at the school.
The Series: Lafayette and Princeton will meet for the 48th time, continuing a relationship that began in 1883. Princeton has won eight straight. The Leopards and Tigers have played fairly consistently since 1992, with 16 meetings in that stretch. Lafayette's last win against the Ancient Eight foe came in 2003.
Young Team: A quick look at the roster shows the youth of the team, as 34 players make up the senior (13) and junior (21) classes while sophomores (23) and freshmen (28) account for 51 of the team's 85 players.
Nationally-Ranked Opponents: Three of Lafayette's 2015 opponents were ranked in the top 25. William & Mary, Fordham and Harvard all spent most of the season ranked in both polls. This year, Colgate is ranked 23rd in the FCS Coaches Poll and the STATS Poll while Villanova is 18th and 21st, respectively.
Red Zone: In the 2016 season opener, the Lafayette offense was 3-for-3 in the red zone, scoring two touchdowns and a field goal. Defensively, Lafayette stopped Central Connecticut State on all three of its opportunities.
The red zone proved problematic for the Leopards in 2015, who scored 18 times in 31 attempts (58%). Lafayette was 4-of-4 on offense in its win at Wagner, 2-of-3 vs. Bucknell, 4-of-4 vs. Colgate and 4-of-5 at Lehigh. Defensively, Lafayette allowed opponents to score on 41-of-45 (91%) attempts, with 33 of those scores touchdowns.