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League Play Opens at Holy Cross

Sept. 26, 2017

 Lafayette at Holy Cross
 Gameday Info Gameday
 Date & Time  Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017 - 1 p.m.
 Location  Worcester, Mass. | Fitton Field
 Tickets  Lafayette Athletics Ticket Office
 Game Notes  Lafayette Get Acrobat Reader | Holy Cross Get Acrobat Reader
 TV  Lafayette Sports Network (MASN-HD, RCN 4/8, 1004/608 HD,
 WBPH-60 HD)

 Play by Play: Gary Laubach
 Analyst: Mike Joseph
 Sideline: John Leone
 Live Streaming
 Live Stats  Holy Cross Live Stats
 Social Media  Twitter & Facebook

The Match-Up: Lafayette opens Patriot League play at Holy Cross on Saturday in a game that can be seen nationally on MASN. It marks the first early afternoon kickoff this season for the Leopards and the first game on grass since 2015 at Lehigh.

Patriot League Openers: The Leopards and Crusaders play the only conference contest this weekend (the second straight season this has been the case). Lafayette is 17-14 in Patriot League openers, with play beginning in 1988 as the Colonial League, and 15-12 since 1990 when the league took its current name. The Leopards have won nine of their last 13 league openers (Georgetown in '04, '07, '08, '09, Fordham in '05 and Bucknell in '06, '12 and '13) with the losses coming to Georgetown in 2010 and 2011, Fordham in 2014 and 2015 and Holy Cross in 2016.

R.O.W. Times Two: Freshman Sean O'Malley collected his second Patriot League Rookie of the Week honor on Monday and earned honorable mention status for the STATS National Freshman of the Week. He completed 30-of-44 for 325 yards (all career highs) with a pair of touchdowns against Princeton (9/23). One of his touchdowns was a 70-yard strike to junior WR Joey Chenoweth, who finished with four catches for 113 yards. Previously, O'Malley earned the honor on Sept. 11, completing 25-of-44 for 276 yards with three touchdowns against Sacred Heart.

Multiple Targets: In his first four career games, freshman QB Sean O'Malley has been able to spread the ball around. Versus Monmouth, Sacred Heart and Princeton, he connected with seven different targets, while finding eight at Villanova.

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. O'Malley is replacing Drew Reed '17, who led the Leopards to their last Patriot League title in his freshman year of 2013 and graduated 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.

O'Malley Game-By-Game
Opponent Completions Yards TD INT Long
Monmouth 27-42 262 2 2 29
Sacred Heart 25-44 236 3 1 29
Villanova 15-29 84 0 3 25
Princeton 30-44 325 2 1 70

First Start: Junior Trent Crossan earned the first start of his career vs. Princeton. Crossan, who was recruited to College Hill as a running back, started the game at safety in place of Tymir Jones, finishing second on the team with eight tackles.

Punting Prowess: Freshman Michael Turk has been solid in his first four games as the team's punter. He is averaging 43.1 yards per attempt (which would rank him first in single-season average at Lafayette) with a long of 64 yards and six punts of 50-plus yards. Turk developed his skills in 2016, training with his uncle Matt Turk, who was an NFL punter for 19 seasons. Prior to that, he had not punted in high school.

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

Defensive Leader: Senior linebacker Brandon Bryant has led by example from his spot at linebacker. The team captain has a team-high 43 tackles including 27 over the last two contests. He also managed his first career interception vs. Princeton.

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, the Fred M. Kirby '42 Head Football Coach, 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.

Last Time Out: Princeton scored 28 straight points from the second quarter into the third to pull away to a 38-17 win at Fisher Stadium.

Streak Snapped: Senior WR Matt Mrazek's streak of 30 straight games with a completion came to an end at Villanova on Sept.16. The string dates to his freshman year of 2014 when he caught a pass in the final nine games. Prior to Villanova, the last time he was held without a catch was Sept. 13, 2014, week two of the season vs. Robert Morris.

Parham's Picks: Senior cornerback Phillip Parham has been a consistent performer for the Leopards in their first four games. The Lincoln Park, Mich. native picked off a pass in the first three games of the season and has eight for his career.

Third Down: The Lafayette defense has allowed opponents to convert on 56 percent of third-down situations (30-of-54). Offensively, Lafayette is converting at a 36 percent rate (20-of-56). QB Sean O'Malley is completing 58 percent (21-of-36) of his passes on third down.

Mrazek's Marks: Senior WR Matt Mrazek continues his ascent on the career receiving charts. He ranks...

-- fourth in career receptions (157), needing three more to move to third place (Phil Yarberough '01 -- 160).

-- eighth for career receiving touchdowns (14), needing two more to move into a four-way tie for fifth (16 TD's)

-- eighth for career receiving yards (1751), needing 29 more to move into seventh (Mark Layton '11 --1,780)

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.

Nationally-Ranked Opponents: Four of Lafayette's 2017 opponents have been ranked in the top 25. Week three opponent Villanova was No. 7 in the STATS poll and No. 8 in the FCS Coaches Poll when it played the Leopards on Sept. 16. Holy Cross cracked the top 25 on Sept. 18, residing at No. 25 after a win over New Hampshire, but dropped out this week after a loss to Dartmouth. Lehigh and Colgate also spent time in the top 25 and Monmouth, Princeton and Harvard are currently all receiving votes in at least one of the polls.

Scoring Drives: The Leopards' longest scoring drive (in terms of yardage) of the season was a 90-yard drive vs. Princeton that was capped by a 70-yard pass play from Sean O'Malley to Joey Chenoweth. In terms of plays, Lafayette has two drives of 11 plays, one at Monmouth and one vs. Princeton, both covering 75 yards. The 11-play drive vs. Princeton was also the longest in terms of time of possession, lasting 5:54.

The Opponent: Holy Cross comes into the week with a 2-2 mark, having beaten Bucknell (20-0) and No. 9 New Hampshire (51-26), while losing to Connecticut (27-20) and Dartmouth (27-26 in OT).

Holy Cross was 4-7 overall and 2-4 in conference play in 2016. The Crusaders return 46 letterwinners and 12 starters (six on offense, six on defense).

Fifth-year senior Peter Pujals is in his fourth full season as the team's starting quarterback, playing only four games in 2016 due to injury. This season Pujals has completed 53 percent of his passes for 1,125 yards with eight TD's and three INT's.

Defensively, senior LB Nick McBeath, who had 106 tackles in 2016, is tied with fellow linebacker Ryan Brady for the team lead in tackles (45).
Head coach Tom Gilmore is in his 14th season and holds a 72-78 career record.