Top 25 Matchup on Senior Day
Nov. 3, 2009
NO. 24/25 LAFAYETTE VS. NO. 20/18 COLGATE
Weather.com Extended Forecast: Mainly sunny with highs in the low 50s and lows in the upper 30s. * Winds SSW at 6 m.p.h. * 10 percent chance of precipitation
Radio: WGPA-AM Sunny 1100
Live TV: Lafayette Sports Network (RCN-4&8, WBPH-60)
National Replay: MASN on DIRECTV 640 and Dish 432 on Nov. 10 at 8 a.m.
Internet: Live audio and video webcast on www.GoLeopards.com
THE MATCH-UP: Winners of six straight, Lafayette (7-1, 3-0) prepares to play the first of three straight "championship" games. This week, No. 24/25 Lafayette will host No. 20/18 Colgate (8-1, 3-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m. on Senior Day when fans are encouraged to participate in the Blackout by wearing black clothing. The Leopards are coming off a 35-14 win over Bucknell when QB Rob Curley enjoyed a career day and the Lafayette defense limited Bucknell's spread option to 95 rushing yards. Lafayette scored four TD's in the second half. For Colgate (8-1, 3-1), Lafayette poses the last real test of the season, as Bucknell awaits on Nov. 14 and the Raiders have a bye week on Nov. 21. Colgate's running game continues to be the hallmark of the program, averaging 247 yards per game of the team's 408 yards of total offense. Against Lehigh a week ago, Colgate scored all four of its touchdowns through the air, and still managed to garner 159 yards for TB Jordan McCord.
ON THE POLL: For the sixth straight season, Lafayette has broken into the top 25 polls. The Leopards are ranked 24th in the FCS Coaches Poll and 25th in The Sports Network Poll. Lafayette has been receiving votes since week seven of its 2009 season, and climbed as high as 21st in 2008. The Leopards' highest ever ranking came in 2004 when they finished No. 19 in both polls after winning the first of three straight Patriot League titles.
CURLEY -- PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Senior QB Rob Curley's near flawless effort vs. Bucknell led to a Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week selection. In a 35-14 win, Curley completed 30-of-35 passes for 333 yards with three TD's with no interceptions or sacks. The completions, attempts and yardage marks were all career highs and it was the first time since Nov. 1, 2006 (Marko Glavic 33 vs. Colgate) that a Lafayette QB completed 30 or more passes. Curley threw all three of his TD's in the second half as Lafayette scored on its first four possessions to break open a game that was tied 7-7 at the break. Curley's quarterback rating was 242.9 for the game, and the performance came one week after he set a career high with 305 passing yards against Fordham. He earns his second career Offensive Player of the Week award. Curley is a History major who is enrolled in three classes this semester: Deviance (A&S), Politics & Arts: 1919-45 and Intro to World Music Traditions.
CURLEY ON THE NATIONAL SCENE: Rob Curley ranks in the top 20 nationally in passing yards, total offense and completions per game, while leading the Patriot League and placing seventh in the country with a 155.4 pass efficiency rating. CAREER CURLEY: Senior QB Rob Curley has completed 69 percent (169-215-7) of his passes this season and is ranked first in the Lafayette record books for single-season completion percentage and career completion percentage (63%). Curley also moved into sixth place for career touchdowns (32), career passing yards (4,412) and seventh in career completions (367).
SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE: The Lafayette defense ranks 14th in the nation and first in the Patriot League in rushing defense, allowing 90.6 yards per game. On the flip side, Colgate is third in the nation in rushing yards per game (247). In Patriot League games only, Colgate has rushed for 229 yards per game while the Lafayette defense has allowed 67 yards per game.
STELLAR START: Lafayette is 7-1 for the first time since 1981 (Lafayette finished 9-2 that season), having run off six straight victories. The Leopards are 3-0 in the Patriot League for the first time since 2005. The only starts that could top an 8-1 mark through nine games came in 1940 (9-0 for the season), 1937 (8-0 for the season) 1926 (9-0 for the season), 1921 (9-0 for the season) and 1896 (11-0-1 for season). The last 8-1 start came in 1899 when the Maroon and White were 8-1 and finished 12-1.
THE HEAD COACHES: Lafayette head coach Frank Tavani (Lebanon Valley '75) is in his 10th season as the fiery head man with the headsets and his 23rd year overall as a member of the Lafayette coaching staff. He is the 27th head coach in the program's 128-year history. Tavani was the running backs coach at Lafayette for 13 seasons prior to being named head coach in December of 1999. Tavani was the 2004 Patriot League Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award in that year. The Lebanon, Pa. native guided Lafayette to three straight Patriot League titles (2004, 2005, 2006) and his career record stands at 59-51. Tavani is 24-8 in Patriot League games over the last six years. Tavani knew a little bit about running the ball in his playing days, becoming the first player in Lebanon Valley College history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. In that senior campaign, he also garnered All-America honors and has since been named to four athletic halls of fame. Tavani signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles out of college in 1976 before jumping into coaching at Franklin and Marshall. His son, Daniel, carried on the college football tradition as an all-conference selection at Wofford. Of his other three children, Liam and Meghan both graduated from Lafayette and his youngest, Bridget, is a freshman on the women's soccer team. Dick Biddle (Duke '71) is in his 14th season at Colgate, having won six Patriot League titles. He holds a 112-50 overall record. Biddle has been named the Patriot League Coach of the Year four times and was named the AFCA National Coach of the Year in 2003. He has won seven or more games in 11 of his 13 seasons with the Raiders.
T.O.P. FOR LC: Time of possession has been a key element in the Leopards' success this season. The Lafayette offense has held the ball an average of 34:28 in each game, leaving just 25:31 for opponents. The Leopards are ranked third in the nation, but just second in the Patriot League behind Colgate (35:53). The only game Lafayette faced a deficit in time of possession was the loss to Liberty,
Opponent Leopards' T.O.P. Opponent's T.O.P. Differential Result Georgetown 37:41 22:19 +15:22 W Liberty 26:16 33:34 -7:18 L Penn 34:26 25:34 +8:52 W Yale 33:44 26:16 +7:28 W Columbia 36:01 23:59 +11:59 W Harvard 31:52 28:08 +13:44 W Fordham 37:08 22:52 +15:16 W Bucknell 38:40 21:20 +17:20 W AVERAGE 34:28 25:31 +8:57 7-1
ABOUT COLGATE: Colgate comes into the game 8-1 overall and 3-1 in Patriot League play. The Raiders are one game out of first place, trailing Lafayette (3-0) and Holy Cross (3-0), which dealt them their only defeat of the season, 42-28, on Oct. 24 in Worcester, Mass.
*The Raiders have had great success running the ball during head coach Dick Biddle's tenure. This season, Colgate is averaging 247 yards per game behind a varied attack of soph. TB Jordan McCord (182-863), junior QB Greg Sullivan (133-638) and soph. TB Nate Eachus (118-604). Eachus was the Patriot League Rookie of the Year and a First-Team selection in 2008, rushing 172 times for 932 yards and 10 TD's. He has battled injuries in 2009.
*Sullivan is an obvious dual threat at the QB spot. In addition to accumulating 638 yards on the ground, Sullivan is a very efficient 107-of-189 (57%) in the air along with 14 TD's to just three interceptions. Sullivan is the only Colgate QB to have thrown a pass this season.
*Sullivan's most frequent target is All-Patriot Leaguer Pat Simonds. The 6-6 wideout has 53 catches for 756 yards and has caught 11 of Sullivan's TD passes in 2009.
*Led by senior LB Greg Hadley, the Raiders are surrendering 19.6 points per game, coming on 108 rushing yards and 186 passing yards per game.
PUT YOUR MONEY DOWN: Money plays are defined as those resulting in first downs or touchdowns. Maurice White leads Lafayette with 30 (25-1st, 5 TD) money plays. On the receiving side, Mark Layton has 27 (24-1st, 8 TD) and Mitchell Bennett is close behind with 23 (21-1st, 3 TD).
THE TURNOVER BATTLE: On the season, Lafayette has turned it over nine times (7th fewest in the nation) while forcing 11 turnovers (95th in the nation). The Leopards have fumbled it away just twice this season, and luckily for Lafayette, three of the seven interceptions given up were in the same game (Columbia). Lafayette led the nation in fewest turnovers per game in 2008, handing it over just 11 times in 11 games, down from 27 in 2007. Turnovers were the key to Lafayette jumping out to a fast start at Harvard. On the first play of the Crimson's initial drive, Carlos Lowe forced a fumble that Eric McGovern recovered. Michael Schmidlein also made his first career interception later in the quarter and the Leopards scored on both opportunities.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM IN THE PATRIOT LEAGUE: Since 2004, Lafayette is 42-23 and 24-8 in Patriot League play. Lafayette stands as the only Patriot League program to record a winning record in each of the last six regular seasons (2004-09) while also holding a Top 25 national ranking each year.
THIRD AND "I DON'T THINK SO": Lafayette's third-down defense has been stellar in the last three outings. Against Bucknell, the Bison converted just 5-of-15 (33%) third downs. Versus Fordham, the Rams converted 6-of-16 (28%) on third down. The Lafayette defense stopped Harvard 14-of-16 times on third down. For the season, Lafayette is 17th in the nation in defending the third down, surrendering first downs just 30 percent of the time.
WHEN IT'S TIME TO SCORE: With a 7-1 record, it's not surprising that for the season, Lafayette has outscored its opponents in every quarter. The Leopards hold a slight edge in the first quarter (45-35), but have dominated opponents 61-29 in the second quarter while holding a 49-24 margin in the third and a 54-39 clip in the fourth. Last year's matchup with Colgate was decided in the fourth quarter, as Colgate scored two TD's and shut out Lafayette 14-0 in the final 15 minutes. IVY ITINERARY: For the first time in program history, Lafayette went 4-0 against Ivy League opponents. The previous best record against Ancient Eight foes was 3-0, accomplished most recently in 1982. This season, Lafayette beat Yale, Penn, Columbia and Harvard. All four victories extended or snapped significant streaks. The Leopards have won three and eight straight over Penn and Columbia, respectively. Meanwhile, the victory over Yale was the first in program history in eight tries, and the win at Harvard marked the first Lafayette triumph since 1996, snapping an eight-game skid. Harvard and Penn were picked to finished No. 1 and No. 2 in the Ivy league preseason poll, and the Columbia squad is one of the most talented in the last 10 years, featuring 26 seniors.
NATIONAL D RANKINGS: Lafayette's defense is 13th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 15.9 ppg. Lafayette is also 14th in rushing defense (90.6 ypg), 32nd in total defense (295 ypg) and 48th in pass efficiency defense (116.7 ypg).
LAFAYETTE vs. THE PATRIOT LEAGUE: The Leopards have played 347 games all-time against the six fellow members of the Patriot League, and are 179-152-16 (.539) in those contests. Since the Patriot League began play in 1986, Lafayette is 74-53-1 (.582) vs. member schools and has won league titles in 1988, 1992, 1994, 2004, 2005 and 2006. Lafayette vs. the Patriot League: Bucknell: 49-32-6 Fordham: 20-7-1 Holy Cross: 14-9-0 Colgate: 10-38-4 Georgetown: 10-3-0 Lehigh: 76-63-5
EIGHT TIMES SIX FOR 8: Junior WR Mark Layton has eight touchdown catches this season, a mark that ties him with two other players (John Weyrauch, 2002 and Jack Gatehouse, 1982) for fourth on Lafayette's single-season touchdown mark. Phil Ng holds the record with 13 in 1988, followed by Jamal Jordan with 11 in 1992 and Quincy Miller with nine in 1996. Layton is in the midst of a breakout season. The Sanford, Fla. native, who made 17 catches for 194 yards all of last season, already has much more substantial numbers in 2009 with 48 catches for 586 yards through eight games with the first eight touchdowns of his career. Layton is averaging 6.0 catches and 73.3 yards per game. Layton had a career-high nine catches for 70 yards and a TD vs. Bucknell.
47 AND 49 IN THE 4-3: In the Leopards' 4-3 defense, the linebackers are going to make the bulk of the tackles. Junior Michael Schmidlein and senior Mark Leggiero are leading the team in tackles with 10.9 and 8.7 tackles per game, respectively. Schmidlein is 11th in the nation and first in the Patriot League in tackles per game. BENNETT BRINGING IT: Sophomore WR Mitchell Bennett is enjoying a breakout season for the Leopards. Bennett has 30 catches for 413 yards and three touchdowns and is also the Leopards' top blocking wideout. He had TD catches vs. Penn and Columbia. Against Fordham, Bennett reeled in six catches for a 93 yards, both career highs. He was good for five catches, 66 yards and a TD vs. Bucknell.
SPECIAL TEAMS STANDOUT: Junior K Davis Rodriguez was named the Patriot League Football Special Teams Player of the Week (10/26). Rodriguez made a pair of field goals late in the second quarter vs. Fordham (10/24) and connected on each of his extra-point tries in Lafayette's 26-21. Rodriguez hit from 21 yards out and then nailed his longest field goal of the season, a 42-yarder, to give Lafayette a 13-7 lead just three seconds before halftime. It is his second Special Teams award of the season and ties a League record with the fourth of his career. Academically, Rodriguez is a Government and Law major. He is enrolled in four courses this semester: African Cultural Institutions, Early American Political Thought, Introduction to Psychology with a lab, and Religion, Myth & Fantasy.
I'LL TAKE WHITE FOR 100 PLEASE...: Senior TB Maurice White churned out 131 yards on 21 carries at Yale and 24 carries for 107 yards vs. Fordham, the only time this season that a Lafayette player his rushed for 100+ yards and the fourth and fifth times in White's career. Lafayette has four players on its roster who have rushed for 100-plus yards in a game: Tyrell Coon, DeAndre' Morrow, Jerome Rudolph and White. The number is second only to Appalachian State which has six who have broken the century mark and Sacramento State which has five.
D-LINE: There is no doubt that the Leopards' defensive line is one of the most talented groups defensive coordinator John Loose has assembled in his 10 years on college hill. Seniors Andrew Poulson (33 tackles, 2 sacks, 5.5 TFL) and Ian Dell (29 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 6.5 TFL) return to the starting lineup at tackle and fellow senior Allan Whitesell (19 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 2.0 TFL), who played in 10 games with four starts in 2008, is playing one of the defensive end spots. At the other end is junior Doug Gerowski (19 tackles, 1 sack, 2.0 TFL), who has had a career-best five tackles vs. Harvard and Columbia. Junior Michael Phillips (15 tackles, 1 sack, 2.5 TFL) made the most of his snaps on the defensive line in the season opener at Georgetown. He forced a pair of fumbles and recovered another. As a group in 2009, the defensive line has forced five fumbles. LEGGIERO'S BACKING IT UP: The Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Mark Leggiero, claimed his first-ever Patriot League weekly honor on Oct. 5. The senior made a game-high 12 tackles, including nine solo stops, in Lafayette's 31-14 win at Yale. The Leopards held Yale to 58 rushing and 214 passing yards, 140 of which came in the fourth quarter after Lafayette had built a 17-point lead. Leggiero was Lafayette's second straight Defensive Player of the Week winner. He finished the 2008 season with 93 tackles, two sacks and an interception on his way to All-Patriot League First-Team honors. As a sophomore in 2007, he was second on the team with 77 tackles and three sacks and was an All-Patriot League Second-Team honoree. In 2006, he was the program's rookie of the year, playing in all 12 games on special teams and as the top backup at linebacker. Academically, Leggiero is an Engineering major who is a Patriot League Academic Honor Roll selection. This semester, Leggiero is enrolled in three classes: Architectural Design & Theory, Civil Engineering Project Management with lab and Political Sociology. Leggiero maintains a 3.2 GPA and posted a 3.3 in the 2009 spring semester.
A SIX-PACK OF SACK: A key to Lafayette's win at Yale was pressure on the quarterback. The Lafayette defense sacked two different Yale quarterbacks six times, thanks to two apiece from Andrew Poulson and Ian Dell and one each from Doug Gerowski and Nick Oliver. The six-pack was the most sacks for Lafayette since Sept. 11, 2004 in a 17-6 win at Georgetown. (Marvin Snipes 2, Chris Brungo, Blake Costanzo, Tye Murphy, Maurice Bennett).
IN THE RED ZONE: Lafayette has both excelled and struggled in the red zone this season. The Leopards' defense is ninth in the country, allowing opponents to score just 14 of the 20 times (70%) they have allowed an opponent inside the 20-yard line. By contrast, the Lafayette offense has scored on 28-of-34 (82%) red-zone opportunities, ranking 40th in the nation.
HISTORIC WIN AT THE HISTORIC (OLD) YALE BOWL: Lafayette's win over Yale was the first ever for the Leopard program in eight tries. The two teams first met in 1912, and prior to the win on Oct. 3, last played in 2006.
AND WE GO...TO OVERTIME: Lafayette found success in overtime against Penn (9/26), beating the Quakers with Davis Rodriguez's 28-yard field goal. It was the Leopards' first overtime game since Sept. 8, 2001, when Lafayette lost to former Patriot League member Towson 16-13. Lafayette is now 2-4 all-time in overtime, winning the first overtime affair in 1995 over Fordham (24-21 on 11/11/95) but losing the next four (11/18/95 at Lehigh - 37-30; 10/18/97 at Cornell - 41-34; 10/3/98 at Dartmouth - 13-10; 9/8/01 at Towson - 16-13) before the win vs. Penn.
P.L. PLAUDITS POST PENN: Junior K Davis Rodriguez and junior LB Michael Schmidlein earned Patriot League weekly football honors (9/28) following Lafayette's 20-17 overtime win vs. Penn. Rodriguez nailed the game-winning field goal in overtime and was named Special Teams Player of the Week while his classmate, Schmidlein, made a game- and career-high 16 tackles en route to Defensive Player of the Week laurels. Rodriguez hit 2-of-3 field goals, including the game winner from 28 yards out in overtime. Rodriguez also connected on both of his PATs, as he scored eight points on the evening. He had previously kicked the game winner against Penn in an 8-7 triumph in 2007. Rodriguez earned his first Special Teams Player of the Week award this season and third of his career. Schmidlein made 16 tackles to help Lafayette limit Penn to just 17 points in the 20-17 overtime victory, the Leopards' third straight over the Quakers. He also recorded a tackle for loss and pass breakup as the Leopards held Penn to just 2-of-13 on third-down conversions. He earned his first conference Defensive Player of the Week award. Rodriguez and Schmidlein both were Patriot League Academic Honor Roll selections in 2008, earning varsity letters while maintaining a minimum of a 3.2 GPA in the fall semester. The duo also surpassed the 3.0 GPA threshold in the spring semester. An Economics and Business major, Schmidlein is taking Economics of Health Care, Intro to Finance, Economics of Sport and Intro to Sociology this fall semester.
TAILBACK BY COMMITTEE: The offensive coaching staff led by coordinator Mickey Fein and under the watchful eye of former tailback and current head coach Frank Tavani is faced with a problem of selecting a tailback from a talented group of four. The quartet includes three seniors in Maurice White, DeAndre' Morrow and Tyrell Coon and sophomore Jerome Rudolph. None of the seniors has been able to maintain his health for an entire season which has opened up opportunities for the other tailbacks and eventually Rudolph as a freshman. White is a powerful runner who was No. 1 on the depth chart in 2007 and 2008 and led the Leopards in rushing last season with 80 carries, 469 yards and 2 TD's. White's top performance of the season came at Yale when he had 131 yards on 21 carries with one touchdown. White leads the team in carries (107) and yards (492) in 2009. Coon is the biggest of the backs and is a slasher who led the team in carries (108) and ended 2008 with 454 yards and two TD's. Coon had the most carries against Penn, with 15 touches for 40 yards. Morrow is a shifty back with soft hands who had 58 carries for 336 yards and two touchdowns in 2008. He had eight carries for 61 yards at Georgetown to go along with four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown catch. Morrow has been also earning his keep on the receiving end, catching 18 passes for 199 yards and one TD. He had his best game of the season at Harvard, leading the team in rushing (85 yards with two TD's) and receiving (four catches for 54 yards). Rudolph and Morrow are the speediest members of the group. Rudolph carried for 199 yards on 35 carries and a pair of scores last year. His red and black cleats reached the end zone at Georgetown on a 48-yard scamper around the end. He missed the Yale game with a foot injury, but played in each game since.
ABOUT THE OFFENSE: Lafayette has used multiple offensive formations in 2009, often choosing to employ three wide receivers and at other times two tailbacks with a pair of wide receivers, with one of the tailbacks in a role as a pass catcher. Lafayette has not completely abandoned the I formation, often going to a power I. The Lafayette offense has been far from predictable, choosing to pass out of the I as often as it does from other formations. The Leopards also introduced the Wildcat formation briefly at Harvard.
UP AND DOWN ON THE GROUND: The Leopard rushing attack pounded out 205 yards on the ground vs. Georgetown, but managed 70 yards vs. No. 24 Liberty. Lafayette had 91 yards vs. Penn's defense, but bounced back with 155 yards at Yale. Lafayette had 118 rushing yards vs. Columbia, 128 at Harvard and 134 vs. Fordham. Lafayette had 142 yards on the ground against Bucknell.
DEFENSE VS. GEORGETOWN: A combination of a very strong Lafayette defense and a sputtering Georgetown (9/12) offense resulted in the Leopards shutting down the Hoyas' offensive attack. Lafayette allowed just 19 rushing yards and 194 passing yards, 81 of which came in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.
A NOCTURNAL VENTURE: The Georgetown game (9/12) marked the first home night game in Georgetown history. Making history at night is not a new feat for Leopard football as Lafayette and Washington and Jefferson played in the first indoor night college football game on Oct. 25, 1930. A crowd of 17,000 witnessed the game at the Atlantic City Auditorium. Lafayette played four night games this season.
STANDING OUT IN THE CLASSROOM: Under head coach Frank Tavani, Lafayette football players have excelled as student-athletes. Twenty-three have earned CoSIDA Academic All-District selections and 38 have earned the distinction since 1995. In 2008, Lafayette had 18 student-athletes qualify for the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll for which they must achieve a minimum of a 3.2 GPA and earn a varsity letter. Lafayette has also claimed four of the last eight Patriot League Scholar Athletes of the Year.
LINE 'EM UP: While depth could be an issue on the offensive line moving along in the season, the front five is made up of four players who have had starting experience. Team captain and left tackle Ryan Hart-Predmore is in his second season at left tackle and third as a starter. The team captain earned All-Patriot League Second-Team laurels in 2008. He will be lined up next to left guard Brian Wycinowski who started 11 games as a junior. Another "W" returns to the starting lineup at the center spot in Mike Wojcik. Wojcik started 19 games the last two seasons. The young bucks in the group are sophomore Scott Biel at right guard and classmate Anthony Buffolino. Biel earned the Offensive Scout Team MVP award in 2008 and played his way into a starting position. Two games into the season, Buffolino took over for fifth-year senior Joe Moore who has been nursing an injury since the season opener. Moore sat out 2008 with an ACL injury after starting the final four contests of 2007 at right tackle. The offensive line is under the tutelage of first-year assistant coach Stan Clayton who boasts nearly 15 years of coaching experience at Toledo and Princeton among other institutions. As a player, Clayton was a member of Penn State's 1986 national championship team and went on to play four seasons in the NFL.
PRESEASON POLL: Lafayette was picked third in the Patriot League Preseason Poll of conference head coaches and sports information directors. In 2008, Lafayette was selected to finish fourth and that's where the team ended. This season, Holy Cross is in the top spot followed by Colgate, Lafayette and Lehigh tied for third, Fordham, Bucknell and Georgetown. The last time the preseason pick won the title outright was 2001 (Lehigh).
ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE RETURNERS: Lafayette placed 10 players on the All-Patriot League first and second teams in 2008, but just three of them return in 2009: senior LB Mark Leggiero, junior PK Davis Rodriguez and senior OL Ryan Hart-Predmore.
ABOUT THE DEFENSE: Anyone who has been around the Lafayette football program in recent seasons knows that the Leopards' defense has been the team's strength under defensive coordinator John Loose who is in his 10th season on College Hill. Lafayette finished eighth in the nation in scoring defense in 2008, allowing 17.5 points per game, including four games where it surrendered fewer than two TD's. The Leopards were 10th in the nation in rushing defense (92.2 ypg), 20th in total defense (300 ypg) and 36th in pass efficiency defense (115.9 ypg). Lafayette boasted the No. 1 ranked defense in the nation in 2007, allowing just 260.1 yards of total offense per game (first in the nation), 84.9 yards on the ground (fourth in the nation), 16.9 points per game (eighth in the nation) and a pass efficiency defense rating of 108.3 (15th in the nation). Lafayette's defensive production in 2009 follows...
2009 Game By Game Opponent Rushing Yds. Passing Yds. Total Yds. Pts.at Georgetown 19 194 213 3 No. 24 Liberty 119 242 361 19 Penn 131 159 290 17 at Yale 58 214 272 14 Columbia 141 153 294 21 at Harvard 74 233 307 18 Fordham 88 245 333 21 Bucknell 95 195 290 14 AVERAGES 90.6 204.4 295.0 15.8
ABOUT THE KICKER: Junior PK Davis Rodriguez was one of just five underclassmen on any Patriot League squad to earn all-league honors. Rodriguez was 13-of-15 on field goal attempts in 2008 and was 4-of-5 on kicks of 40 to 49 yards, including a career-long kick of 47 yards at Colgate. He also converted 32-of-33 PATs and at one point had made 48 straight PATs. Rodriguez is 89-of-93 for his career (96%) on PATs and 27-of-42 on field-goal tries (64%). With that as his background, Rodriguez struggled at Georgetown, missing kicks of 38, 34 and 32 yards. All had plenty of distance, but were wide. Against Liberty, Rodriguez missed his only attempt from 23 yards in the second quarter. Against Penn, Rodriguez was 2-of-3, including the game-winning 28-yard field goal in overtime, his second vs. the Quakers in his career. Rodriguez added a 31-yard FG on slippery turf at Yale and a 35-yarder vs. Columbia. Rodriguez hit all five PAT's at Harvard. He made both of his field goal attempts, including a season-long of 42 yards, vs. Fordham. The St. Petersburg, Fla. native earned Sports Network 2009 Preseason All-America Second-Team honors after an All-Patriot League Second-Team selection in 2008.
WHO'S THE BACKUP: Sophomore Ryan O'Neil is the backup QB with junior Marc Quilling, who missed most of preseason with a back injury, close behind. Quilling was 45-for-76 for 555 yards with four touchdowns and one interception in 2008. Quilling started the final three games of the season. O'Neil has played in two games in 2009 and is 4-of-8.
WHO'S CATCHING THE THING?: With the graduation of the Leopards' top two receivers from 2008, including a career top-5 pass catcher in Shaun Adair, the Leopards are looking to a young group to pick up the slack. Lafayette has moved to a rotation of five players. Sophomores Mitchell Bennett and Greg Stripe are 1 and 1A on one side of the field while junior Mark Layton is the other starter. Junior Nathan Padia and sophomore Kyle Hayes also vie for catches.
THE PUNTER: For the second straight year, the punting work is being done by Tom Kondash. In 2008, the junior punted 57 times for 2,149 yards and 37.7 yards per kick. He landed 22 kicks inside the opponents' 20-yard line with just one touchback and boomed a career-best 79-yard punt vs. Holy Cross. Kondash has booted nine punts inside the 20 and has three kicks of 50-plus yards. Lafayette is 50th in the nation in punting (36.8 ypk).
I SEE A RED JERSEY AND I WANT TO PAINT IT BLACK: The Leopards' perfect mark in black jerseys came to an end in 2008 with a one-point loss to Holy Cross on Nov. 15 and a setback vs. Lehigh (black pants and jerseys). Lafayette is now 4-2 in the black jerseys. They wore black to beat Lehigh in 2004 and again in 2006 to win Patriot League titles. Fordham was also victim to the black jerseys in 2005. The only other time they've paired black jerseys with black pants was in a driving rain storm with standing water on the old Fisher Field grass surface against Columbia in 2005, a 14-7 victory. The Leopards pulled out the black pants against Holy Cross in week 10 in 2007 and continued their winning streak by beating the Crusaders 31-21. Lafayette has not worn its black jerseys or pants in 2009.
200+ RUSHING GAMES: When Maurice White ran for 212 yards in the 2008 season opener vs. Marist, it was the first time in nearly six seasons that a Lafayette ballcarrier eclipsed the 200-yard rushing mark in a single game. For White, it was the first time in his career (high school or college) that he managed the feat and it placed him in some elite company. Since 1990, there have been nine 200-yard performances for the Leopards, six of which were the work of Maroon Club Hall of Fame honoree Erik Marsh '95.
DATE RUSHER OPPONENT CARRIES-YARDS W/L 09/09/08 Maurice White at Marist 29-212 W 11/16/02 Joe McCourt Holy Cross 38-203 W 11/19/94 Erik Marsh Lehigh 34-214 W 11/20/93 Erik Marsh at Lehigh 25-249 L 11/06/93 Erik Marsh at Holy Cross 36-221 W 11/21/92 Erik Marsh Lehigh 46-251 W 10/31/92 Erik Marsh at Colgate 41-225 W 11/16/91 Erik Marsh Colgate 20-200 W 10/19/91 John Kahn Columbia 41-224 W
PATRIOT LEAGUE TITLES: Lafayette won three straight Patriot League titles in 2004, 2005 and 2006. The Leopards begrudgingly shared the title with Lehigh in 2004 and 2006, and with Colgate in 2005. The championships also led to three straight NCAA Playoff appearances, making Lafayette one of six teams in the country to appear in the 16-team field in three straight years. The Leopards have won six PL championships in the 24-year history of the league (1988, 1992, 1994, 2004, 2005, 2006).
IN THE NFL RANKS: Blake Costanzo '06 is currently on the Cleveland Browns' 53-man roster. Costanzo, who now wears No. 54 for the Browns, played the last two seasons with the Buffalo Bills and was the team's special teams MVP in 2008 before being released. In the off-season, his contract was picked up by Cleveland. He is the lone Patriot League representative currently on an active NFL roster. In a matchup between his current and former teams on Oct. 11, Costanzo recovered a punt on special teams that set up the game-winning score and also made two tackles.
HISTORIC FISHER STADIUM: Fisher Stadium has hosted the College's home football games since 1926. The facility underwent a $23 million transformation that gave Lafayette one of the premier FCS football venues in the nation. New spectator seating was built, including chairback seating in select areas, and additional visitors' seating was added for a maximum capacity of 13,132 fans. A state-of-the-art in-fill synthetic surface, lights, a press box and a 19-by-35 foot video board were installed, and improved restroom and vending areas were also included. The Bourger Varsity Football House includes a locker room, offices and team meeting rooms, as well as sports medicine and strength and conditioning areas. Now in its 82nd season, Fisher Stadium has been host to 408 Lafayette football games with the Leopards enjoying an overall record of 243-152-13 for a winning percentage of .610. Of the previous 81 seasons, Lafayette has produced 12 undefeated home seasons with the most recent being the 1992 Patriot League champion Leopards that went a perfect 5-0 - the first undefeated home season for Lafayette at Fisher Stadium since 1970. During the 1991, 1992 and 1993 seasons, Lafayette won 10 straight home games--tying the Fisher Stadium school record for consecutive wins first set 1926 and 1927 in the first 10 games ever played in the stadium.
LAFAYETTE FOOTBALL IN ITS 128th SEASON: Since fielding its first college football team in the fall of 1882 (the same year that dirty little coward Robert Ford shot Jesse James and that Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture debuted), Lafayette has had a proud, colorful gridiron tradition on the way to a total of 646 victories (646-540-39). Lafayette ranked 33rd among all college football teams in all-time wins entering the 2009 season, posting its first win in 1883 (25-0 vs. Rutgers). Lafayette accumulated 100 victories by 1900, 200 by 1915 and 300 by 1934.
LAFAYETTE'S FOOTBALL INVENTORS: Two primary elements of the game of football -- the helmet and the huddle -- were invented by former members of the Lafayette football program. George "Rose" Barclay from the Class of 1898, one of Lafayette's all-time great running backs, invented the helmet when the "threat of cultivating cauliflower ears" led him to piece three thick leather straps around his head for the 1896 game against Penn. Former Lafayette coach Herb McCracken (1924-35; 59-40-6) devised the first huddle system during the 1924 season after learning the Pennsylvania football team had stolen Lafayette's signals. Lafayette became the first team to huddle before each play and this system was immediately adopted by other teams.
LAFAYETTE SPORTS NETWORK TO TELEVISE ENTIRE SEASON: The Lafayette Sports Network, the national leader in Division I FCS television coverage, will televise all 11 regular-season Lafayette football games for the seventh straight year. Now in its 13th year, LSN has become a staple for Leopard fans both regionally and across the country. LSN's traditional live distribution to more than 10 million homes on RCN-4 and WBPH-60 covering all of Eastern Pennsylvania will be enhanced this season by live coverage on all of RCN's cable systems in major markets along the East coast. RCN subscribers in Boston (226,000), New York City (250,000), Philadelphia (382,000) and Washington, D.C. (131,000) will be able to watch all 11 Lafayette games on RCN-8. Nationally, LSN telecasts will be picked up for the ninth straight year by DIRECTV and DISH Network outlets, available to more than 90 million viewers via the Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN). MASN, which is available regionally and nationally on DIRECTV channel 640 and DISH Network channel 432, is the official television home of the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals and Baltimore Ravens and reaches nearly 6 million homes in a seven-state region from Harrisburg, Pa. to Charlotte, N.C. Each LSN football telecast will air tape-delay on MASN on the Tuesday following each contest. A complete broadcast schedule follows. Gary Laubach handles all of the Leopards' play-by-play duties for the 13th straight season and is joined by analyst John Leone for the 12th straight year. In his ninth year as a member of the broadcast team is Dan Mowdy, who reports on the Leopards from the sidelines. RADIO AND TV SCHEDULE
DATE OPPONENT KICKOFF RADIO TV MASN/ MASN AIR DATE AIR DATE 9/12 at Georgetown 6 p.m. WAEB 790 LSN/MASN 9/15 11:30 p.m. 9/19 LIBERTY 6 p.m. WAEB 790 LSN/MASN 9/22 11:30 p.m. 9/26 PENN 6 p.m. none LSN/MASN 9/29 11:30 p.m. 10/3 at Yale 12 p.m. WGPA 1100 LSN/MASN 10/6 8 a.m. 10/10 COLUMBIA 6 p.m. WAEB 790 LSN/MASN 10/13 8 a.m. 10/17 at Harvard 12 p.m. WGPA 1100 LSN/MASN 10/20 8 a.m. 10/24 FORDHAM 1 p.m. WGPA 1100 LSN/MASN 10/27 8 a.m. 10/31 BUCKNELL 1 p.m. WGPA 1100 LSN/MASN 11/3 8 a.m. 11/7 COLGATE 1 p.m. WGPA 1100 LSN/MASN 11/10 8 a.m. 11/14 at Holy Cross 12:30 p.m. WGPA 1100 LSN/MASN 11/17 8 a.m. 11/21 at Lehigh 12:30 p.m. WGPA 1100 LSN/MASN 11/24 8 a.m.LSN RCN-4 & 8, WBPH 60 MASN Mid Atlantic Sports Network (DIRECTV 640, DISH 432)
LAFAYETTE ON THE RADIO: The Lafayette Sports Network entered into an agreement with WAEB-AM 790 and WGPA AM-1100 to broadcast the 2009 Lafayette football season. The deal places Lafayette on the top two rated AM stations in the Lehigh Valley. See a complete broadcast schedule on the previous page. Veteran broadcaster Dick Hammer is in his 43rd season as the Leopards' play-by-play man and will be joined in the booth at home by former Leopard greats Mike Joseph '88 and Phil Ng '88 on a rotating basis, and on the road by Lafayette SID Phil LaBella.
A HISTORY OF NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: The Lafayette football program has claimed three national championships -- 1896, 1921 and 1926 -- and recorded five undefeated seasons -- 1896 (11-0-1), 1921 (9-0-0), 1926 (9-0-0), 1937 (8-0-0) and 1940 (9-0-0). Of recent note, the Leopards have won six Patriot League championships -- 1988, 1992, 1994, 2004, 2005 and 2006 -- and made their first three appearances in the NCAA FCS Playoffs.
INSIDE LAFAYETTE FOOTBALL: Inside Lafayette Football can be seen every Thursday evening at 5:30 p.m. throughout the season as well as 30 minutes prior to kickoff of all Lafayette contests. Laubach will sit down with head coach Frank Tavani, as well as select student-athletes, to discuss the Lafayette football program.
LAFAYETTE SPORTS NETWORK ALL-ACCESS: Each LSN telecast is available live through LSN All-Access, which streams the game worldwide to any high-speed internet connection. In all, more than 60 Lafayette athletic contests, as well as Inside Lafayette Football, are scheduled to be broadcast through Lafayette All-Access this year for a rate of $9.95 per month and $79.95 for the entire year.
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