Pards Look to Snap Streak vs. Holy Cross
Nov. 8, 2011
| Lafayette vs. Colgate
|Date||Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011 at 12:30 p.m. (ET)|
|Location||Worcester, Mass. | Fitton Field|
|Tickets||Lafayette Athletics Ticket Office|
|TV||Lafayette Sports Network: RCN-4, WBPH-60 (Lehigh Valley), RCN-8 (Philly, Boston, NYC, DC, Chicago) and MASN (Gary Laubach, Mike Joseph '88, John Leone)|
|Video Streaming||GoLeopards.com (LSN Telecast: Gary Laubach, Mike Joseph '88, John Leone)|
|Radio||WJRH-FM 104.9 (Dick Hammer)|
|More Coverage||Gameday Central | Lafayette News Stand|
MATCH-UP: There are two games remaining on the 2011 Lafayette football schedule and this week's matchup places the Leopards (4-5, 1-2) beneath the grey skies of Worcester, Mass. where they face Holy Cross (4-5, 2-2) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
It's doubtful that Lafayette is looking past Holy Cross to the 147th meeting with Lehigh, because the Crusaders have beaten Lafayette in three straight.
Holy Cross's defense has been the story in its last three games, allowing 15.3 points per game while going 1-2 with a win over Bucknell and losses to Lehigh and Georgetown, who are slotted in first and second place in the Patriot League standings.
STACKED SCHEDULE: Lafayette's schedule is currently the toughest in the nation according to the latest NCAA statistics (based on cumulative opposition). In other words, teams that Lafayette has played and will play have a combined winning percentage of .625. Fordham and Colgate are the only Lafayette opponents with losing records. Holy Cross ranks third in the same category, and first in past opposition, as it does not take into account a 1-8 Fordham team which it will play next week.
Seven teams on the Lafayette ledger are currently ranked or have received votes this season in one of the two Top 25 polls. North Dakota State has moved to No. 1 in both polls, while future opponent Lehigh is sixth in both polls. Harvard is 14th in the FCS Coaches poll and 18th in the Sports network tabulations. Penn, Colgate, Holy Cross and Stony Brook all have received Top 25 votes this season.
SAFFORD'S PICK SIX: Junior CB Darius Safford's game-clinching pick six was one of the most exciting game-ending plays in Lafayette history. The 100-yard return placed him in the Lafayette and NCAA record books for longest interception return for touchdown. Previously, the Lafayette slot was held by Jeff Werrell and Adriel Linyear in 2001 vs. Columbia.
THE BUTLER'S BEEN DOING IT: Senior LB Leroy Butler leads the team with 78 tackles, nearly eight per game. Butler is coming off a 15-tackle effort vs. Colgate. Against Fordham (10/22), the Florida native made a career-high 20 tackles, the single-game high for Patriot League players this season.
SHOOP AND SCHEUERMAN DO IT AGAIN: Junior QB Andrew Shoop and freshman TB Ross Scheuerman have been selected as the Patriot League Football Offensive Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week, respectively. It is the second time this season that the duo achieved the honors in the same week (Oct. 24). Shoop led the Leopards to a come-from-behind 37-24 overtime win against Colgate. He completed 21-of-34 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score. Shoop engineered a 79-yard drive in the final minute of regulation and tied the score at 24 on a touchdown pass with 30 seconds to go, then threw the game-winning touchdown pass on a third-and-goal play at the 14-yard line in overtime. The Anthropology and Sociology major completed passes to 10 different players and did not throw an interception. His two Patriot League weekly awards have come in the past three weeks. Scheuerman returned a kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter as part of a night where he totaled 197 all-purpose yards. The touchdown tied the score at 7-7 in the first quarter. Scheuerman returned three kickoffs for 138 yards (46.0 avg.) and also managed 34 yards on seven rushing attempts and 25 yards on three receptions. He earns the Patriot League Rookie of the Week honor for the fourth time this season. Scheuerman is a candidate for the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshmen in the nation. The Economics major leads the team in rushing with 75 carries for 399 yards (5.3 yards per carry) while also reeling in 17 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown.
NICE CATCH, HAYES...: Senior WR Kyle Hayes has been one of the Leopards' most consistent pass catchers in his last two seasons. In 2010, Hayes was second on the team with 39 receptions for 547 yards and five touchdowns. This season, he has 22 receptions for 365 yards and two touchdowns, despite missing four games due to an injury he sustained in the season opener. When he returned against Yale, Hayes reeled in six balls for 44 yards and a TD and followed with four catches for 98 yards vs. Fordham. He made three grabs for 72 yards, including a 43-yarder, vs. Bucknell. In his last outing, Hayes caught seven balls for 124 yards and the game-tying touchdown that sent the game to overtime.
UP AND DOWN IN THE RUN GAME: A week after rushing for a season-high 260 yards in a win over Fordham, Lafayette managed just 26 yards in a loss to Bucknell. Lafayette was held to one-yard per carry and had one rushing first down. Lafayette had 80 yards on the ground vs. Colgate with Hebron leading the way with 75. The rushing total includes a negative 31 yards on five sacks of Lafayette QB's.
JUST GET US TO FOURTH DOWN: The Lafayette defense is first in the Patriot League in fourth down defense and fourth down offense. Lafayette has stopped its opponents on 9-of-14 times on fourth down while the offense has converted on 10-of-14 attempts (71%).
MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Freshman Ross Scheuerman has shown some versatility, returning 26 kickoffs for 612 yards (23.5 ypk). Scheuerman returned a kick 78 yards for a touchdown vs. Colgate. It was the Leopards' first kick return for a touchdown since Greg Stripe's runback in 2008.
ABOUT HOLY CROSS: Holy Cross is in third place in the Patriot League standings, entering the weekend with a 4-5 overall mark and a 2-2 Patriot League clip. The Crusaders' Patriot League wins came over Colgate (37-7 on Sept. 10) and Bucknell (16-13 on Oct. 22) with non-conference victories over Harvard and Dartmouth.
The Crusaders were 6-5 overall and 3-2 in the Patriot League in 2010 when they finished tied for second. Twelve starters have returned in 2011, six on each side.
Offensively, everything seems to go through senior Ryan Taggart. Taggart has thrown for 2389 yards, completing 221-of 367 for 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Taggart also leads the rushing attack with 102 carries for 381 yards and six touchdowns. In the 2010 meeting with Lafayette, Taggart accumulated 245 yards of total offense and four touchdowns.
Junior Gerald Mistretta and sophomore Mike Fess are Taggart's favorite targets. Mistretta has 49 catches with five touchdowns while Fess has caught 42 balls for two TD's. In all, seven players have 10 or more catches.
Senior LB Ricky Otis leads the team with 77 tackles and is 10th in the nation in unassisted tackles with 65. The 2010 All-Patriot First-Team selection plays middle linebacker in the Crusaders' 3-4 lineup. Sophomore outside linebacker Mike Tucker has a team-best eight sacks on the season.
Holy Cross is coached by Tom Gilmore (Penn '86) who is in his eighth season. He has a 49-38 record at Holy Cross.
STREAK SNAPPED: The loss to Bucknell snapped a nine-game series winning streak that began in 2002. In that span, Lafayette outscored Bucknell 572-107.
THE HEAD COACH: Frank Tavani (Lebanon Valley '75) is in his 12th season as head coach and 25th on the Lafayette coaching staff, bringing with him the same fire that he started with in Dec. 1999. In his time as the head man, he has transformed Lafayette into a con-sistent championship contender. From 2004 through 2009, Lafayette spent time in the Top 25 each season and was the only Patriot League program to boast a winning record in every regular season during that span. During that run, Lafayette posted a 26-10 league record. It won three straight Patriot League championships from 2004-06 and finished a game out of the title hunt in 2009. In that 2009 season, Lafayette was 8-3 with two losses to Top 25 opponents while holding a 4-0 record vs. Ivy League foes for the first time in program history. In the midst of the '04-'06 title run, the Leopards made the first three postseason appearances in school history, laying claim to the Patriot League's automatic NCAA bid in 2004 and 2006, while earning the program's first at-large berth in 2005. In addition to Patriot League championships and NCAA Playoff appearances, Lafayette has taken care of business close to home, beating its cross-valley rival Lehigh four of the last seven times in College Football's Most Played Rivalry. The win in 2007 at Lehigh allowed the Class of 2008 to leave College Hill without ever having lost to its archrival, a feat not achieved since the Class of 1950. Tavani has been a part of six Patriot League titles, helping guide the Leopards to crowns as an assistant coach in 1988, 1992 and 1994, to go with the last three championships as head coach. His teams are achieving in the classroom. Lafayette has boasted 25 academic all-district selections under Tavani and a total of 40 players have earned the distinction since 1995. Tavani has also coached four Patriot League Football Scholar-Athletes of the Year. In 2010, 35 players were named to the League Academic Honor Roll. Tavani became Lafayette's 27th head coach on Dec. 11, 1999 after having served as the Leopards' running backs coach for 13 seasons. As an undergraduate at Lebanon Valley, Tavani was an outstanding running back, becoming the school's first player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a single season. An Associated Press All-American as a senior, he was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame in the fall of 1988. Tavani was inducted into the Lebanon Catholic High School Hall of Fame in its inaugural class in March 2004 and joined the Central Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in November 2006. Tavani earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and has completed postgraduate work in Counselor Education. Tavani and his wife, Agnes, reside on College Hill, and are the parents of four children. Liam '03 and Meghan '06 are graduates of Lafayette, while Bridget is a junior on College Hill. Daniel graduated from Wofford College in 2007 where he was a four-year letterwinner for the football team.
SHOOP & SHEUERMAN PLAYER OF THE WEEK (PART 1): QB Andrew Shoop and TB Ross Scheuerman were named the Patriot League Offensive Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively, on Oct. 24. Shoop directed the offense to more than 500 yards in a 45-24 win over Fordham, completing 16-of-24 passes for 259 yards and a TD while also running for another score. Shoop threw two separate 49-yard passes in the first half to set up touchdowns. It is the first-ever Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week award for Shoop who is the fourth different quarterback but the first non-senior to earn the conference honor this season. Scheuerman put together another stellar performance to earn his third Rookie of the Week nod. He carried five times for 51 yards and returned four kickoffs for 87 yards to finish with 138 all-purpose yards. He leads the team in rushing.
A STREAK: The Leopards posted their second straight win on homecoming weekend and managed consecutive wins for the first time since November 2009 when Lafayette concluded a seven-game winning streak.
WHAT A RUSH AGAINST FORDHAM: Lafayette had three players rush for 50 yards or more with Pat Mputu carrying 17 times for 116 yards, Vaughn Hebron 11 for 65 and Ross Scheuerman 5 for 51. As a team, Lafayette put up 260 yards on the ground, their most since Oct. 25, 2008 when Lafayette had 322 on a rainy day at Fordham.
EASTON 500: Lafayette put up 523 offensive yards against Fordham, the most since Nov. 13, 2010. The last time Lafayette scored 45 points was Nov. 7, 2009 vs. Colgate.
MPUTU'S 100: Running behind a physical, inspired offensive line vs. Fordham, Pat Mputu garnered 116 yards on the ground, the first 100-plus game for a Leopard since Alan Elder had 104 on Oct. 30, 2010 vs. Bucknell.
LONG DRIVE: After the Lafayette defense stoned Fordham on four straight running plays inside the red zone, the Leopard offense took over at its own two-yard line. The Leopards then put together a six-play, 98-yard drive, the longest drive of the season. The drive featured a 49-yard pass from Shoop to Ross.
LINING UP: Lafayette has used five different starting lineups on the offensive line this season, including three in the past four weeks. Senior Matt Welch has played left tackle, center and right guard while fellow senior is the only player to have started every game at one position (left guard). Freshman Luke Chiarolanzio has started all but the first game of the season at right tackle. Senior All-Patriot League selection Anthony Buffolino has started four games this season, but missed the last three following ankle surgery. He is hoping to return to the lineup in the final two weeks of the season. Against Fordham, sophomore Pat Crosby took over at center, coming back early from shoulder surgery and foregoing the opportunity for a medical redshirt season.
SHOOP O'NEIL Yale 17-21-0 for 176, 2 TD's 5-7-0 for 29, 1 rushing TD Fordham 16-24-1 for 259, 1 TD 1-3-0 for 4 Bucknell 7-20-2 for 103,1 TD 5-8-1 for 63 yards, 1 TD Colgate 21-34-0 for 262, 2 TD's, 3-3-0 for 19 yards 1 rushing TD
HOMESTAND: The Leopards' five-week homestand was the longest stint at home since 1914 when Lafayette played six in a row (Villanova, Penn State, Muhlenberg, Albright, Lehigh and Dickinson) Oct. 24 through Nov. 26. Lafayette opened this season with four on the road, its first such swing to open the season since 1889 (Columbia, Cornell, Rutgers, Lehigh).
YOUNG LEOPARDS: A look at the roster reveals that 61 of the 96 players who came to camp were freshmen or sophomores.
HOLDING PATTERN: Senior wide receiver and tri-captain Mitch Bennett is currently sidelined with an abdominal cyst that required surgery and hospitalization prior to the Yale game. He also sat out the Fordham, Bucknell and Colgate games.
NOT A SCORING RUSH: Lafayette did not manage its first rushing touchdowns of the season until the seventh game, against Yale on Oct. 15 when TB Pat Mputu and QB Ryan O'Neil each ran in one score. Against Fordham, Vaughn Hebron had two rushing TD's while Andrew Shoop and Mputu each added one.
PAST THE CENTURY MARK: Senior WR Mitch Bennett caught his 100th career pass at Stony Brook and added four more catches vs. Harvard. He needs four more catches to surpass Mike Miller '70 and Brandon Stanford '06 for ninth place on the career receptions list. Bennett has a team-best 25 catches for 334 yards and three touchdowns in 2011, averaging 13.4 yards per catch. Bennett has 1,392 career receiving yards and is 160 yards from taking sole possession of 10th place in career receiving yards.
O'NEIL ASCENDS CHARTS: Senior QB Ryan O'Neil completed 13-of-19 passes vs. Harvard to move into eighth place for career completions. He passed Ed Baker '70 (ninth with 240).
ROOKIE REPEAT: Freshman Ross Scheuerman was selected as the Patriot League Rookie of the Week on Sept. 19 and 26. Scheuerman had 303 all-purpose yards at Stony Brook on Sept. 24 in the final game of a four-game road swing to start the season. Scheuerman ran for 90 yards, including a long run of 44 yards, while also making four catches for 69 yards as the Leopards threw for 400 yards. Scheuerman helped Lafayette in the field position battle, returning seven kicks for 144 yards with a long return of 38 yards. Scheuerman is an Economics major. At Penn he carried 13 times for 89 yards and caught a 44-yard TD in the Leopards to the victory.
RETIRING NO. 53: Prior to Harvard game on Oct. 1 game, the No. 53 was retired in honor of Fred Morgan Kirby '42, the first retirement of its kind for the football program. Kirby was a member of the 1940 undefeated football team that ran through the likes of Army, Rutgers and Lehigh, while allowing just 33 points in a nine-game slate. After graduating from Lafayette, Kirby served in Europe in World War II and later earned his master's degree from Harvard. He served as the chairman of the Alleghany Corporation for 39 years and was one of the College's most prominent and dedicated alums. Kirby, who passed away in February 2011, left behind a legacy of academic, athletic, military, professional, civic and charitable achievements.
QB COMPARISON: The coaching likes junior Andrew Shoop at quarterback because he provides the more athletic option with a stronger arm that provides big-play opportunities. Senior Ryan O'Neil is the more accurate thrower with more refined decision-making abilities at this point in his career. Both will be used for the rest of the season. O'Neil completed 67 percent (209-313) of his passes in 2010, the third-best single-season mark at Lafayette. He was 11th in the nation in completions per game (20.9), 23rd in passing efficiency (136.7) and 26th in passing yards per game (218.3). O'Neil, who threw for a pair of 300-yards games in 2010, had his best game of 2011 in the season opener when he completed 15-of-20 for 144 yards at North Dakota State. He sat out the Penn and Stony Brook games after sustaining a concussion at Georgetown, but played against Harvard, Yale, Fordham, Bucknell and Colgate. It took Shoop a little while to get going in his first career start under center. At Penn (9/17), all five of his pass attempts in the first quarter and the first try of the second quarter were incomplete. He followed that by completing 14 of his final 17 pass attempts for 230 yards and four touchdowns. Shoop's first four touchdowns of the season were not short passes, completing TD's for 44, 37, 73 and 28 yards at Penn. Shoop completed 32-of-56 passes for 400 yards at Stony Brook, the highest single-game total since Marko Glavic threw for a school-record 453 yards vs. Columbia on Oct. 22, 2003. Shoop's 56 pass attempts tied the school record also held by Glavic vs. Colgate on Nov. 1, 2003. Freshman Zach Zweizig sits behind O'Neil and Shoop on the depth chart.
ROSS BREAKS AWAY: With Kyle Hayes on the sideline with a shoulder injury, sophomore wideout Mark Ross made the first start of his career at Penn (9/17). He managed to find his way down field, making four catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns. His 73-yard hookup in the third quarter is the Leopards' longest play from scrimmage in 2011. He also added a 37-yard TD just before the half to give Lafayette its first lead of the game, one it would not relinquish. Against Georgetown, Ross made a 39-yard grab on 3rd-and-4 that kept a potential game-winning drive alive. Ross followed with a seven-catch, 92-yard game at Stony Brook. Against Yale, Ross had four receptions and one TD grab and also picked up a crucial fourth-down conversion, leading to a touchdown. Ross made six grabs for 99 yards vs. Fordham, including a 49-yard catch, and had two touchdown catches vs. Bucknell. In his last appearance, Ross made four catches for 36 yards with the game-winning touchdown in overtime vs. Colgate.
THE RUN GAME: The Lafayette running game set season-best performances vs. Fordham (260 yards) and Yale (120). In those games, sophomore Pat Mputu handled the bulk of the carries, rushing for 83 against Yale and 116 vs. Fordham. Previously, Lafayette ran for 54 yards against North Dakota State, 119 vs. Georgetown, 105 at Penn, 86 at Stony Brook and 42 vs. Harvard. Ross Scheuerman is the team's leading rusher, carrying 75 times for 399 yards. Mputu is second on the team in carries with 46 for 212 yards and two touchdowns. Elder has 41 carries for 90 yards while junior Vaughn Hebron, who made a successful return from a 2010 ACL injury, has carried 42 times for 212 yards. He had five carries for 51 yards vs. Fordham. Hebron accounted for 75 of Lafayette's 80 rushing yards against Colgate.
TURNOVER TALES: Through their first three games, Lafayette committed just one turnover, a fumble on the potential game-winning drive at the Georgetown 23 with 1:10 left. Lafayette did not commit a turnover in the win at Penn, but Kyle Simmons helped himself to a pair of Penn passes. Stony Brook forced three interceptions and two fumbles. Against Harvard, the Leopards put it on the ground twice and threw one interception. They did not turn it over vs. Yale, but had two turnovers vs. Fordham (while forcing three Fordham turnovers). Against Bucknell, Lafayette had a season-high seven turnovers. They did not commit a turnover versus Colgate. Lafayette is 4-0 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent, but is ranked 102nd of 120 teams ranked nationally in turnover margin, acquiring 11 while letting go of 19.
THE PUNTING GAME: In his first game as the full-time punter, Ethan Swerdlow punted nine times for 361 yards in the Fargodome for an average of 40.1 yards. His longest punt was 54 yards. At Penn, Swerdlow had a season-high nine punts for 373 yards, an average 41.4 yards per punt, while also landing in three punts inside the 20. Against Yale, Swerdlow punted six times for 224 yards (37.3) with one inside the 20. Versus Fordham, he kicked four times for 167 yards (41.8) and put two punts inside the 20 and followed with four punts for 134 yards (33.5) with one inside the 20. He is currently 36th in the nation and second in the Patriot League in punting average (40.3). PLAYER OF WEEK...TIMES THREE: In the aftermath of the Leopards' victory over Penn (9/17), three players garnered Patriot League Player of the Week honors. Senior free safety Kyle Simmons collected Defensive Player of the Week, while freshmen Ross Scheuerman and Austin O'Brien were named Rookie and Special Teams Player of the Week, respectively on Sept. 19. With 15 tackles and two interceptions, Simmons had a career game at Penn. He returned his first pick 31 yards for a touchdown to break open the game late in the third quarter and give Lafayette a 30-12 lead. He returned the other interception 21 yards in the fourth quarter to set up Lafayette's final score. For his effort, he was also named FCS National Defensive Player of the Week by The Sports Network. Scheuerman carried 13 times for 89 yards and caught a 44-yard touchdown pass to help lift the Leopards to the victory. He led Lafayette with 147 all-purpose yards. O'Brien booted a career-long 48-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to give Lafayette a 16-12 lead at the break, re-taking the momentum from Penn after the Quakers had blocked a PAT and returned it 92 yards for two points. He also made 4-of-5 extra point attempts and handled kick-off duties for the Leopards.
SPECIAL TEAMS SWING: After scoring a touchdown with 44 seconds left in the first half at Penn, Lafayette had its PAT blocked and returned 92 yards resulting in two points for Penn and a potential momentum swing. The Lafayette defense gave the special teams an opportunity to redeem themselves. After a three-and-out, Lafayette's Mike Boles blocked Penn's punt. Freshman Austin O'Brien then booted a career-long 48-yard field goal, giving the Leopards a four-point lead.
AT IT A WHILE: Since fielding its first college football team in the fall of 1882 (the same year that coward Robert Ford shot Jesse James in the back and that Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture debuted), Lafayette has had a proud, colorful gridiron tradition on the way to a total of 653 victories (653-558-39) in 1249 games. Lafayette ranks 36th among all college football teams in all-time wins entering the 2011 season, posting its first win in 1883 (25-0 vs. Rutgers). Lafayette accumulated 100 victories by 1900, 200 by 1915 and 300 by 1934.
THE TRI-CAPTAINS: Seniors Mitchell Bennett, Ben Eaton and Ryan O'Neil were selected by their peers as the Lafayette football team captains. Bennett is the first Lafayette player since Wes Erbe '05 in 2003-04 to serve as captain in two straight seasons and the second during Tavani's tenure as head coach. Bennett, who is playing in his fifth year of eligibility after a medical redshirt, made 33 catches for 394 yards and four touchdowns in 2010, despite battling through a foot injury that required offseason surgery. He is in his third season as a starting wide receiver. Eaton represents the defensive side of the ball. The starting middle linebacker made 70 tackles with a forced fumble and a blocked kick in 2010. He has played in 22 games in two seasons with 11 starts and will be eligible to return to the squad in 2012 due to a medical redshirt. The starting QB position is one that is looked to for leadership and O'Neil was an overwhelming choice by his fellow teammates and the coaching staff. In 2010, he completed 67 percent of his passes during his first season as a starter, throwing for 2,183 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
ROAD TRIP = FAR: Lafayette's trip to Fargo, N.D. in the season opener (where the airport code is FAR) was the farthest west the Lafayette program has travelled, surpassing an 1896 trip to Parkersburg, West Va. It was also the first time Lafayette had played indoors since 1930 when Lafayette and Washington and Jefferson played the first indoor, night college football game before a standing room only crowd of 17,000 at the Atlantic City (N.J.) Auditorium.
HALF WAY THERE: Lafayette held a halftime lead in six of its 11 games in 2010: 24-14 vs. Georgetown, 14-6 at Penn, 14-10 at Princeton, 10-7 vs. Stony Brook, 16-7 at Bucknell, 10-7 vs. Lehigh. This season, Lafayette has led three times at halftime in wins over Penn, Yale and Fordham.
PATRIOT LEAGUE FOOTBALL: The Patriot League is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a football conference and is currently comprised of Bucknell, Colgate, Fordham, Georgetown, Holy Cross and Lehigh. Fordham and Georgetown are associate members in the eight-team all-sport conference which includes Army, Navy and American. The league is known for its academic priorities, recently finishing in the top spot in the NCAA's Graduate Rate Report. Redshirts are granted only for medical reasons. Thus, there are only a handful of fifth-year seniors on any given squad. Most notably, football financial aid is given out on a need basis only at every school except Fordham which recently adopted football scholarships. Fordham is ineligible for the conference crown, the NCAA automatic playoff berth and team and individual awards. BOOT CAMP: The first five days of Lafayette's training camp took the Leopards to Fort Indiantown Gap, a National Guard Training Center in Annville, Pa. While the base has state-of-the-art training facilities for the military and law enforcement, the Lafayette coaching staff chose more austere conditions. They were greeted by 5 a.m. wakeup calls in their World War II era barracks, lengthy walks to meals in the mess hall and were further challenged with using whatever was at their disposal for nightly strength training workouts.
BIG GAMES: Lafayette has traditionally played a schedule comprised of Patriot League games and several (three or four) Ivy League foes to go along with a smattering of other conference opponents. Since Frank Tavani took over, the Leopards have looked to upgrade their schedule and test themselves against some top quality, nationally ranked scholarship opponents, and the Leopards have acquitted themselves well. Lafayette split a home-and-home series with Liberty in 2008 and 2009 and took two from Richmond in a similar series in 2004 and 2005. Lafayette played 11th-ranked North Dakota State in the 2011 season opener and the Stony Brook contest, against another scholarship opponent, closes out a home-and-home series. The Leopards will square off with current No. 21 William and Mary in a home-and-home series in 2012 and 2013.
WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK: Lafayette was picked fourth in the Patriot League Preseason Poll of conference head coaches and sports information directors. The Leopards (36 points) were picked behind Lehigh (58 points and eight first-place votes), Colgate (56 points and six first-place votes) and Holy Cross (38 points) and ahead of Georgetown (19) and Bucknell (16). Fordham is ineligible for the league title. In 2010, Lafayette was picked second and finished fifth.
WELL-ROUNDED: Senior CB Brandon Ellis earned a place on the ESPN Academic All-District II Football Team and was selected to the All-Patriot League First Team in 2010. In that season, he made a career-high 16 tackles in a win over Stony Brook (10/16). Ellis is in his third season as a starter at cornerback. An Economics major, Ellis maintains a 3.34 overall grade-point average and serves as a peer mentor in the College's Academic Tutoring and Training Information Center and as a Gateway Ambassador for Career Services. In 2010, his learning experiences took him outside the classroom in a summer internship with Johnson and Johnson.
A PROUD TRADITION...OF KICKING?: Since the formation of the Patriot League, Lafayette has enjoyed a proud tradition of placekicking. The most recent addition to the Lafayette recordbook was Davis Rodriguez '10 who graduated in December and took with him 251 career points. He finished third in the Patriot League annals for career kick scoring leaders, trailing only Jason McLaughlin - (255) and Jim Hodson (254), both Lafayette graduates. He also ranked fifth in career points per game for kickers with 5.7 per game.
WHO'S KICKING NOW?: With the departure of placekicker Davis Rodriguez and punter Tom Kondash, both multiple-year starters, both jobs were up for grabs. Junior Ethan Swerdlow handled the field goal, PAT and punting duties at North Dakota State and the punting duties in each game. Freshman Austin O'Brien has handled kickoffs in every game and has been the team's placekicker in all but one game. He is 8-for-13 in field goals with a career-long of 48.
A PLAY HERE...A PLAY THERE: In 2010, five of Lafayette's losses came by seven points or fewer, for a total of 23 points: 28-24 to Georgetown, 19-14 at Penn, 36-33 in double overtime at Princeton, 14-10 at Fordham and 20-13 vs. Lehigh.
COSTANZO INKS NEW DEAL: Blake Costanzo '06 recently inked a new deal with the San Francisco 49ers, putting his name on a contract that could be worth as much as $800,000. Costanzo spent the past two seasons with the Cleveland Browns playing under current 49ers assistant and special teams coordinator Brad Seely, who coached the Browns special teams at the time. During his career, Costanzo has played in 45 games, notching 54 tackles, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries on special teams. In 2009, Costanzo played in all 16 games, notching 14 tackles with three fumble recoveries and a forced fumble on special teams. He was selected to SI.com's All-Pro team on special teams that season. In 2010, he played in 10 games and recorded seven tackles and a fumble recovery on special teams before a groin injury that required surgery forced him to miss the final six games. After graduating from Lafayette in 2006, Costanzo signed with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent and later spent time with the Buffalo Bills from 2007-08, playing in 19 games and registering 33 special teams tackles, including a team-high 26 stops in 2008. He was claimed off waivers by Cleveland in June 2009. Costanzo, a 27-year old native of Franklin Lakes, N.J. and a 2002 Ramapo High School graduate, finished his Lafayette career with 307 tackles, 18 sacks, three interceptions, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 12 passes defended. He was part of three Patriot League championships teams.
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE: A constant in John Loose's defenses is stellar linebacker play. Maurice Bennett '06, current NFL player Blake Constanzo '06, Andy Romans '09, Mark Leggiero '10 and Mike Schmidlein '11 (all of whom were All-Patriot League performers) have passed the mantle (or shoulder pads in this case) to senior Ben Eaton. The senior tri-captain made 70 tackles in 2010 and is the team's top returning linebacker. Eaton made nine tackles at North Dakota State, 10 at Georgetown, seven stops with a sack at Penn, eight at Stony Brook, 10 vs. Bucknell and 14 vs. Colgate.
THROW ME THE BALL: All but one player who caught a pass last season returned to the fold this season. Senior wideouts Kyle Hayes and Mitchell Bennett hold down the top two spots on the depth chart. Fellow senior Greg Stripe, who missed much of preseason with turf toe, figures in the mix along with sophomore Mark Ross. The Leopards employ a tight end in certain offensive formations, and senior Kevin Doty returns after reeling in 19 catches for 208 yards and a TD in 2010. He is joined by sophomores Brandon Hall and Morgan Donohue. Offensive coordinator Mickey Fein frequently uses his backs as receivers, as tailbacks Alan Elder and Pat Mputu each had 19 catches in 2010. In 2011, Ross Scheuerman has 17 catches for 192 yards at tailback.
PATRIOT LEAGUE TITLES: Lafayette won three 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 25-year history of the league (1988, 1992, 1994, 2004, 2005, 2006).
STANDING OUT IN THE CLASSROOM: Under head coach Frank Tavani, Lafayette football players have excelled as student-athletes. Twenty-five have earned CoSIDA Academic All-District selections and 41 have earned the distinction since 1995, including Brandon Ellis in 2010. Lafayette had 35 student-athletes qualify for the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll in 2010 for which they must achieve a minimum of a 3.2 GPA. Lafayette also has laid claim to four Patriot League Scholar Athletes of the Year.
THREE TABBED FOR 25th ANNIVERSARY TEAM: Three former members of the Lafayette football program have been named to the Patriot League Football 25th Anniversary Team. Defensive back B.J. Gallis '97, placekicker Jason McLaughlin '95 and linebacker Andy Romans '09 were voted to the silver anniversary squad by the seven current football member schools of the Patriot League. The 1996 Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, Gallis also earned Associated Press and The Sports Network All-America status in his final campaign with the Leopards. He was a two-time All-Patriot League honoree and claimed team Most Valuable Player laurels in the 1996 season. Gallis, a member of Lafayette's 1994 Patriot League Championships team who was also named to the Patriot League Football 15th Anniversary Team in 2000, went on to play three seasons in the Canadian Football League with the BC Lions and Edmonton Eskimos. McLaughlin was the only Leopard to earn All-Patriot League honoree in all four of his seasons on College Hill, a run that included a pair of first-team distinctions. He currently holds the all-time Lafayette and Patriot League records with 255 career points as a kicker. McLaughlin, who was a member of two Patriot League Championship teams (1992 and 1994), was previously recognized on the Patriot League Football 15th Anniversary Team. A cornerstone of back-to-back Patriot League championship squads in 2005 and 2006, Romans was a two-time Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year for the Leopards. Romans, who led the Leopards in tackles in three consecutive All-Patriot League-caliber seasons, was invited to New York Giants' minicamp after graduation and later joined the coaching staff at Muhlenberg College.
ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE RETURNERS: Lafayette placed nine players on the All-Patriot League first and second teams in 2010, and five of them return in 2011: first-teamer senior CB Brandon Ellis and second teamers senior TE Kevin Doty, OL Scott Biel, OL Anthony Buffolino and fullback Pat Creahan.
200+ RUSHING GAMES: Since 1990, there have been nine 200-yard rushing 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 WAND WE GO TO...OVERTIME: Lafayette has played eight overtime games all-time and is 3-6 in those contests. The Leopards are 1-1 in 2011 overtime games.
DATE OPPONENT RESULT 11/11/95 Fordham 24-21 W 11/18/95 at Lehigh 37-30 L 10/18/97 at Cornell 41-34 L 10/03/98 at Dartmouth 13-10 L 09/08/01 at Towson 16-13 L 09/26/09 Penn 20-17 W 11/21/09 at Lehigh 27-21 L 09/25/10 at Princeton 36-33 L 2OT 11/05/11 Colgate 37-24 WHISTORIC FISHER STADIUM: Fisher Stadium has hosted the College's home football games since 1926. The facility underwent a $35 million transformation that gave Lafayette one of the premier FCS football venues in the nation. New spectator seating was built 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 85th season, Fisher Stadium has been host to 421 Lafayette football games with the Leopards enjoying an overall record of 249-159-13 for a winning percentage of .607. Of the previous 84 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 in 1926 and 1927 in the first 10 games ever played in the stadium.
LAFAYETTE ON THE RADIO: The Lafayette Sports Network radio broadcasts will be available on WJRH 104.9. The games can be streamed live through www.wjrh.org. Veteran broadcaster Dick Hammer is in his 45th season as the Leopards' play-by-play man.
SARTORIAL SCHEMES: 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 5-4 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 and 2011. 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, beating the Crusaders 31-21. Lafayette did not wear its black jerseys or pants in 2009. In 2010, black jerseys made their debut against Harvard in a 35-10 loss. In other combinations, Lafayette donned the black pants with white jerseys at Columbia, maroon pants at Princeton, stayed with traditional white on white at Penn, Fordham, Bucknell and Colgate, and wore maroon jerseys and white pants vs. Georgetown and Holy Cross. Lafayette wore maroon jerseys and pants vs. Lehigh. This season, Lafayette has worn seven different uniform combinations, breaking out black pants at Penn and Stony Brook and at home vs. Yale and black jerseys with white pants vs. Fordham. Against Bucknell, the Leopards went black on black.
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.
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 University of 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: For the ninth straight year, the Lafayette Sports Network (LSN-TV) will provide live coverage of all 11 regular season games on the 2011 schedule. For the third straight season, LSN is partnering with ESPN for distribution on ESPN3.com and GamePlan.
LSN's traditional live distribution to more than 10 million viewers on RCN-4, RCN-8 and WBPH-60 covering all of Eastern Pennsylvania will be enhanced again 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 Lafayette games live on the RCN-TV networks.
Nationally, LSN telecasts will be picked up for the 11th straight year by DIRECTV and DISH Network outlets, through WBPH-60 and the Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN). All televised games will be available live on WBPH-60, located on channel 60 on DIRECTV and 8169 on DISH Network.
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 six million homes in a seven-state region from Harrisburg, Pa. to Charlotte, N.C. Each LSN football telecast will air tape-delay on MASN.
All 11 contests will be streamed live on GoLeopards.com and select games will air live on ESPN3.com, ESPN GamePlan or both as a part of LSN's partnership with ESPN. LSN's distribution on ESPN3.com and ESPN GamePlan will be announced on a weekly basis throughout the season.
Gary Laubach will handle all of the Leopards' play-by-play duties for the 15th straight season and will be joined by analyst Mike Joseph '88 for his second year in the television booth. In his 14th year as a member of the broadcast team is John Leone, who will report on the Leopards from the sidelines.
In all, more than 100 Lafayette athletic contests are scheduled to be broadcast through GoLeopards.com during the 2011-12 seasons at a rate of $9.95 per month or $79.95 for an annual subscription. The CBS College Sports XXL package, which includes content from all CBS College Sports Online member schools, is available for $119.95 annually or $14.95 per month.