15/19 Wildcats Face Leopards on Family Weekend
Sept. 20, 2016
| Lafayette vs. Villanova
|Gameday Info||GoLeopards.com Gameday|
|Date||Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016 at 6:10 p.m.|
|Location||Easton, Pa. | Fisher Stadium|
|Tickets||Lafayette Athletics Ticket Office|
|Game Notes||Lafayette | Villanova|
|TV|| Lafayette Sports Network (RCN 4/8, 1004/608 HD, WBPH-60)
Gary Laubach, Mike Joseph, John Leone
|Live Streaming|| GoLeopards.com
Gary Laubach, Mike Joseph, John Leone
|Social Media||Twitter & Facebook|
The Match-up: Lafayette and No. 15/19 Villanova meet on the gridiron for the first time in 96 years. The Family Weekend game kicks off at 6:10 p.m. The last time the two teams met (1920), Fisher Stadium (Field) had not yet been built (1926).
Reed's Performance: Senior QB Drew Reed turned in another stellar performance at Princeton, completing 28-of-36 (78 percent) for 356 yards and three touchdowns. It was the fourth 300-yard passing performance of his career and second in three games this season.
Reed moved into fifth place for career passing yards at Lafayette (5,700), passing Rob Curley '10 and taking third place for career completions (517), surpassing Tom Kirchoff '93 (510). Reed is the seventh Lafayette quarterback to throw for 5,000 yards.
Back On the Line: Senior Nick Zataveski returned to the offensive line after missing the first two weeks with injury. He played the entire game at Princeton, joining fellow senior Connor Staudle, junior Cam Smith and his brother Kevin Zataveski as returning starters on the line.
More Pressure: The Lafayette defense has been able to apply more pressure up front this season in comparison to last. Lafayette has sacked opponents six times through three games, but did not reach the six-sack mark until game six of 2015.
Imposing His WILL: 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 from his career-best 18-tackle performance against the Blue Hens. Bryant made 10 stops at Princeton, including a 15-yard sack.
Punting Performance: Senior Ryan Forrester has been the standout special teams performer this season. Forrester is averaging 42.7 yards per punt and is coming off a Princeton game in which he averaged 47 yards per punt and landed one effort inside the 10-yard line. Against Delaware, he punted nine times, 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).
Last Time Out: Lafayette QB Drew Reed threw for 356 yards and three touchdowns, but Princeton's high-powered offense scored 28 points in the second and third quarters for a 35-31 win over the Leopards.
Kyle Mayfield and Nick Franzese scored the first touchdowns of their careers.
Rocco Palumbo made five catches for 101 yards, the first 100-yd game of his career.
Familiar Faces: There will be some familiar faces milling about Fisher Stadium on Saturday as Mark Powell '14 and Shane Brady '14 return to their alma mater, but as coaches on the Villanova sideline. In addition, Lafayette LB Rob Hinchen will face his brother, John, who is the junior punter and holder for the Wildcats.
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 and followed with five catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns at Princeton.
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.
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.
Villanova enters week four of the season with a 2-1 overall mark and a 1-0 record in Colonial Athletic Association play. The Wildcats' only loss was a 28-7 decision at FBS opponent Pittsburgh to open the season. Villanova played its next two games at home, joyfully beating Lehigh, 26-21, and Towson, 40-21.
The Wildcats are ranked 15th in the FCS Coaches poll and 19th in the STATS FCS polls.
Villanova is coming off a 6-5 mark and a 5-3 finish in CAA play that saw the Wildcats finish sixth in the conference standings. Villanova won three of its last four games in 2015, topping Maine, Rhode Island and Richmond.
Villanova returns six starters on offense and eight on defense while welcoming back 32 letterwinners. The team was picked fourth in the CAA preseason poll.
The offense is piloted by redshirt-sophomore QB Zach Bednarczyk who led the team in rushing and passing in 2015 while earning CAA Offensive Co-Rookie of the Year laurels. Benarczyk completed 122-of-210 passes for 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2015 while adding 515 rushing yards and five touchdowns. This season, he has completed 42-of-70 passes with three TD's and one INT. He is averaing 3.7 yards per carry on the ground.
Senior Javon White is the impetus behind the run game, averaging 5.0 yards per carry and 90.7 yards per game through three games. He has four rushing touchdowns and has caught four passes this season.
Sophomore Jarrett McClenton (5-41) and junior Taurus Phillips (11-157, 2 TD's) are two of Villanova's top pass-catching threats at wide receiver while junior TE Ryan Bell has made nine catches for 72 yards.
Defensively, senior LB Austin Calitro is coming off a 90-tackle season and currently leads the team with 26 tackles. Junior safety Rob Rolle was the CAA Defensive Player of the Week after a nine-tackle game in which he had a school-record 100-yard interception return for TD against Towson.
Villanova is coached by Andy Talley (Southern Connecticut '67) who is in his 32nd and final season as head coach at Villanova where he holds a 223-134-1 record.