Pards Prep for Western Pa. Road Test
Sept. 25, 2012
THE OPENING KICK-OFF
The Leopards (3-0) take to the road for the second straight week, making the six-hour trek across Pennsylvania to square off with Robert Morris (0-3) of the Northeast Conference. Despite occupying the same state, the two teams have never met, as Robert Morris' football program began play in 1994, 112 years after the Leopards' kicked it off for the first time.
A WIN OVER ROBERT MORRIS WOULD...make Lafayette 4-0 for the first time since 1988 when the Leopards opened 5-0 on their way to a Colonial League title. It would give Lafayette a 5-3 record all-time vs. NEC opponents (1-0 vs. Monmouth, 1-0 vs. Sacred Heart, 2-0 vs. Wagner and 0-3 vs. Duquesne).
TURNOVER TALES: Turnovers were an issue for Lafayette in 2011, as the Leopards were -14 on the season. The early returns in 2012 are much more positive. The Leopards were +1 at William & Mary (1 fumble, 1 INT to go along with 1 lost fumble), +6 against Penn (7 INT's and 1 fumble recovery with 2 Zweizig interceptions) and +3 at Bucknell (2 interceptions and a fumble recovery). Lafayette is currently ranked first in the nation in turnover margin at +3.3 per game.
Lafayette is first is the nation in passes intercepted with 10 through three games (3.3 per game). The Leopards are "tied" with Southeast Missouri State which also had 10 picks, but has played four games. Individually, sophomore safety Jared Roberts leads the nation with 1.0 interceptions per game, picking off a pass in each of the Leopards' first three outings.
Freshman Ryan Gralish is just three weeks into his rookie season and has already made a positive impact. Gralish's first field goal attempt of the season was a 46-yard conversion in the second quarter in the win at Bucknell, a boot he followed with a 26-yard insurance score in the fourth quarter. The week prior he was selected as the Patriot League Rookie of the Week for the first time in his career. Gralish took over the placekicking duties, converting four PATs in the Leopards' 28-21 win over Penn on Sept. 15. Gralish has handled kick-offs the entire season and added placekicking duties in week two.
Junior WR Mark Ross (Aliquippa, Pa./Hopewell), sophomore OL Ben Jeannot (Corapolis, Pa./Moon), freshman K Ryan Gralish (Mars, Pa./Mars), freshman LB Dan Dellovade (Moon, Pa./Moon) and freshman OL David Miller (Cranberry, Twp./Seneca Valley) all hail from locales within 20 miles of Moon Township. It will be even more of a homecoming for Jeannot and Dellovade as the Leopards will hold their Friday walk through at Moon High School instead of Robert Morris' home field.
With 2,515 career passing yards, senior QB Andrew Shoop needs 184 yards to move into 10 place for career passing yards (Ryan O'Neil -2,699), 267 to advance to ninth (Mark Jones-2782) and 406 to ascend to eighth (Ed Baker-2921).
SCOUTING ROBERT MORRIS
Robert Morris is coming off a 2-9 campaign in 2011 that saw the Colonials finish in eighth place in the Northeast Conference with a 2-6 mark.
The Colonials are 0-3 this season. Robert Morris opened 2012 with a loss at defending national champion North Dakota State (52-0) a trip familiar to the Leopards who opened the 2011 season in Fargo. A 35-10 loss at home to Albany and a 20-14 setback followed at Dayton on Sept. 15. Robert Morris is coming off a bye week and will be hosting its second home night game in program history.
Sophomore Matt Layman and senior Jeff Sinclair have each spent time at quarterback. Layman has played in three games, completing 22-of-47 for 187 yards one touchdown and three interceptions. Sinclair, who was the starter last season, is 10-of-27 for 176 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions and has played in one game.
The Robert Morris defense is allowing 375 yards per game (177 in the air and 198 on the ground) and has allowed 36 points per game. Senior S Cameron Chadwick and senior ILB Mike Cook lead the team in tackles with 7.7 per game.
Joe Walton (Pittsburgh '57) is in his 19th season at Robert Morris and holds a 105-82-1 career coaching mark. The former New York Jets' head man is the only head coach Robert Morris has had since initiating its program in 1994.
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