Nov. 2, 2004
THE MATCH-UP: Lafayette heads to Colgate for one of the most pivotal games in recent memory for the program. The Leopards, already guaranteed of just their second winning season in the past decade, enter the weekend tied atop the Patriot League standings and eyeing their first four-game winning streak since 1994. A win Saturday keeps Lafayette in control of its own destiny in the league championship race. Colgate, the defending league champ and 2003 national runner-up, had its 15-game Patriot League winning streak snapped last weekend at Lehigh, but along with Fordham remains just one game back in the standings. The Raiders have won 16 in a row at home over the past three seasons and will be playing their final home game of 2004 this weekend.
CHASING HISTORY: A little digging through the history books is required to appreciate what Lafayette has accomplished through the first two-thirds of the season. A win at Colgate would match Lafayette's best record through nine games since 1981. With their victory at Fordham two weeks ago, the Leopards have now won 18 games over the past three seasons. Lafayette posted 18 wins from 1992-94 (including a pair of Patriot League championships), while the program also produced 19 wins from 1991-93 and 20 wins from 1990-92.
DOUBLE THREAT: Sophomore quarterback Brad Maurer (136 yards) and senior running back Joe McCourt (103 yards) became the first Lafayette teammates in 12 seasons to rush for 100 yards in the same game in the Leopards' win at Fordham. The last time two Leopards ran for 100 yards in the same game was Nov. 14, 1992, when Erik Marsh (115 yards) and Phil Robinson (107 yards) both hit the century mark in Lafayette's 49-7 win at Bucknell.
THE SERIES: Colgate holds a commanding 34-9-4 edge in the all-time series and has won the past eight meetings. Lafayette's last win was a 35-9 decision in Easton in 1995. The one neutral site match-up in the series resulted in a 7-7 tie in Philadelphia in 1925.
THE HEAD COACHES: Frank Tavani (Lebanon Valley '75) is in his fifth season at the helm of the Lafayette football program. He is the 27th head coach in the program's 123-year history. Tavani enters this weekend's contest with a career record of 22-30. Dick Biddle (Duke '70) has posted a 74-30 record in nine seasons at Colgate. He has guided the Raiders to four Patriot League championships and led Colgate to the 2003 national championship game. Following Colgate's run through the playoffs, Biddle was named the American Football Coaches Association Division I-AA National Coach of the Year. Biddle has twice been named Patriot League Coach of the Year: 2003 and 1996.
IN THE BOOTH: Joe Castiglione will be joining Dick Hammer on the call for WEST 1400-AM radio's broadcast of Saturday's game. Castiglione, a Colgate alum, just completed his 14th season as the play-by-play announcer on the Boston Red Sox radio network.
WINNING THE ONES THAT COUNT: Lafayette enters the weekend 3-0 in Patriot League play. It is just the third time since the beginning of Patriot League play in 1990 that the Leopards have opened 3-0 in the league. Lafayette's 1992 and 1994 Patriot League championship teams both started 3-0 en route to unbeaten (5-0) league campaigns.
LAFAYETTE vs. the TOP 25: Colgate is the first nationally-ranked opponent Lafayette has faced this season. Harvard, now ranked 16th in the The Sports Network Top 25, was unranked when the Crimson traveled to Easton on Oct. 2. Lafayette's last win over a ranked opponent was a 14-7 win over then-No. 20 Lehigh in 2002. Last season, Harvard (No. 22), Fordham (No. 24) and Colgate (No. 12) defeated the Leopards when ranked in the Top 25.
BIG PLAY BROWN: No one has made more game-changing plays on the Lafayette defensive unit than junior defensive end Andrew Brown. Last weekend at Fordham, Brown intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown in the first quarter while also collecting 10 tackles, including a sack. Two weeks ago at Bucknell, Brown recovered a pair of first-quarter Bison fumbles. At Georgetown on Sept. 11, Brown intercepted a tipped pass and returned it two yards for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Leopards' 17-6 win.
TAKE IT TO THE HOUSE: Andrew Brown has scored a pair of defensive touchdowns this season. Last weekend, Brown recovered a fumble in the end zone. It was Lafayette's first fumble recovery for a touchdown since John Fistner returned a fumble 66 yards against Holy Cross in 1998. Brown's two-yard interception return for a score at Georgetown was the Leopards' first interception return for a touchdown since Jeff Werrell and Adriel Linyear combined for a 100-yard interception return against Colgate in 2001. Werrell picked off the pass at the goal line, then lateraled to Linyear who carried it the final 56 yards.
HANGIN' A HUNDRED ON 'EM: Senior running back Joe McCourt has run for over 100 yards each of the past four weeks, the second time in his career he has posted four consecutive 100-yard rushing games. Last weekend, he ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. McCourt eclipsed the century mark twice as a freshman, eight times as a sophomore, six times as a junior and five times this season. Lafayette is 13-8 over the past four seasons when McCourt rushes for at least 100 yards, including 6-1 in his past seven 100-yard peformances.
TAKING NOTICE: Lafayette has cracked the Others Receiving Votes section of both the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 and The Sports Network Top 25 for the fourth straight week. Lafayette is 32nd in both polls this week. Last week, Lafayette checked in at 31st in the ESPN/USA Today poll and 34th in The Sports Network poll.
AFTER THE BREAK: This marks the second straight season Lafayette has built a bye week into the schedule. Prior to 2003, Lafayette had not scheduled a bye week since 1989, while cancellations during the 1996 and 2001 seasons resulted in off-weeks for the Leopards. Lafayette is 2-2 in its past four games following weekends off.
GOING THE DISTANCE: Sophomore Brad Maurer has played the entire game under center each of the past three weeks after having split time with junior Pat Davis through the season's first five games. The past three games, Maurer has completed 31-of-39 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns, as well as scored on runs of 63, 10, 13 and 71 yards.
LONG LAYOFF: Forty-one days will pass between scheduled home games for the Leopards during their current road trip, equaling the longest in-season span between home contests in Lafayette history. The Leopards also went 41 days between home games in 1986, posting a 2-3 record during the stretch. In 1893, Lafayette hosted Temperance Athletic Association on Oct. 4, then 41 days later faced Lehigh at home. However, a home contest that was scheduled with Rutgers the week prior to the Lehigh game was forfeited by the Scarlet Knights.
SCORING TRENDS: Two interesting trends related to scoring have developed as the 2004 season has played out. Lafayette has scored first in five of its six wins this season, while the defense has held the opposition to 20 points or fewer in each of the six victories.
NCAA DIVISION I-AA LEADERS: Lafayette prides itself on playing a disciplined brand of football, and that attitude is reflected in the national statistics. The Leopards have been one of the least penalized teams in the country and are taking care of the football on offense. Statistical categories in which Lafayette ranks in the Top 50 nationally:
Individual Total Tackles - Maurice Bennett - T-19th (10.5 tackles per game) Rushing - Joe McCourt - 27th (99.8 yards per game) Kickoff Returns - Larry Johnson - 48th (22.5 yards per return)
Team Fewest Penalties Per Game - 2nd (3.75 penalties per game) Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game - T-4th (36.0 yards per game) Fumbles Lost - T-14th (5 lost) Turnovers Lost - T-18th (13 lost) Scoring Defense - 21st (18.6 points per game) Rushing Offense - 24th (204.5 yards per game) Passing Efficiency - 33rd (130.99 rating) Fumbles Recovered - T-34th (9 recovered) Turnover Margin - T-37th (.38 margin; 16 gained, 13 lost) Passes Had Intercepted - T-39th (8 intercepted)
LAFAYETTE vs. the PATRIOT LEAGUE: The Leopards have played 317 games all-time against the six fellow members of the Patriot League, and are 157-144-16 (.521) in those contests. Since the Patriot League began play in 1986, the Leopards are 52-47-1 (.525) vs. member schools and have won league titles in 1988, 1992, and 1994. Lafayette vs. the Patriot League:
Bucknell: 44-32-6 Fordham: 16-6-1 Holy Cross: 11-7-0 Colgate: 9-34-4 Georgetown: 5-3-0 Lehigh: 72-62-5
PILING UP THE MILES: This weekend's game is the final in a four-game road trip, the Leopards' second road swing of at least three games this season. Since the beginning of Patriot League play in 1990, Lafayette has had 11 instances where it has played at least three consecutive games on the road. On those 11 occasions, the Leopards have posted a cumulative record of just 11-25, including 0-3 in the fourth game of those stretches.
Year Opponents Results 1990 Army, Holy Cross, Fordham, Colgate 56-0 L; 34-3 L; 59-14 W; 36-7 L 1992 Princeton, Cornell, Army 38-35 L; 44-33 L; 38-36 L 1993 Holy Cross, Army, Lehigh 52-27 W; 35-12 L; 39-14 L 1994 Bucknell, Colgate, Fordham 56-14 W; 14-6 W; 34-6 W 1995 Dartmouth, Princeton, Holy Cross, Bucknell 14-7 L; 41-0 L; 27-17 W; 30-11 L 1996 Harvard, Columbia, Colgate, Army 17-7 W; 3-0 L; 40-9 L; 41-21 L 1999 Towson, Holy Cross, Brown 35-7 L; 30-12 L; 35-28 L 2000 Colgate, Fordham, Duquesne 17-14 L; 31-28 L; 23-14 L 2002 Princeton, Duquesne, Columbia 34-19 L; 23-22 L; 28-21 W 2002 Fordham, Colgate, Bucknell 33-26 L; 31-24 L; 19-3 W 2004 Georgetown, Princeton, Richmond 17-6 W; 35-18 L; 21-16 W
McCOURT'S MILESTONES: After rushing for more than 1,000 yards the past two seasons, Joe McCourt will go into the record books as one of the most prolific running backs in both Lafayette and Patriot League history. McCourt enters this weekend with 4,079 rushing yards, second all-time at Lafayette and fourth all-time in the Patriot League. He trails Erik Marsh '95, the all-time leading rusher in Lafayette and Patriot League history, by 755 yards. With two touchdowns in the opener against Marist, McCourt passed Marsh as Lafayette's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns. He currently has 41. After hauling in a team-high 52 passes in 2003, McCourt sits fifth in career receptions at Lafayette with 129. Finally, McCourt's six-yard touchdown run at Bucknell made him Lafayette's all-time leading scorer. He has accounted for 272 career points (45 touchdowns, 1 two-point conversion), good for third all-time in the Patriot League.
McCOURT CAN THROW, TOO: With his 28-yard touchdown pass to Justin Lauver in the third quarter at Columbia, McCourt improved to 3-of-5 passing in his career for 34 yards. All three completions have gone for touchdowns, while he also threw an interception as a freshman. He enters this weekend with a career passing rating of 275.1. McCourt's five career attempts:
- at Holy Cross, 5-yd. touchdown pass to Marko Glavic
- at Lehigh, incomplete
- at Lehigh, interception
- vs. Columbia, 1-yd. touchdown pass to Marko Glavic
- at Columbia, 28-yd. touchdown pass to Justin Lauver
ROAD WARRIORS: Lafayette's seven-game road schedule, after having seven at home in 2003, has been the subject of much discussion throughout the season. Towson, which would have served as a home contest in 2004, departed the Patriot League at the conclusion of the 2003 season. The Leopards agreed to a home-and-home deal with Richmond, with the Spiders tentatively slated to visit Easton on Sept. 10, 2005.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Lafayette is in the midst of a stretch that sees it play on the road four times in five weeks, its most extended time away from Fisher Field since 1996. Lafayette won the opening game of that trip, 17-7 at Harvard, before dropping games at Columbia (3-0), Colgate (40-9) and Army (41-21). Fordham was slated to be the second opponent in that five-game stretch, but that game was cancelled.
SPREADING THE LOVE: A season-high eight different receivers caught at least one pass at Richmond on Sept. 25. Junior tight end Chad Walker led the way with four catches, the most for him in a game since 2002, while Jonathan Hurt, John-Frank Stubits and Romar Drake all snagged their first career receptions.
PUT IT ON THE BOARD: Sophomore kicker Rick Ziska has been perfect on 25 point-after attempts this season, including a 6-for-6 performance in the season-opener against Marist and 5-for-5 days at Columbia and Fordham. He is also 4-for-8 on field goals, including a 48-yarder that he hammered home just before halftime at Georgetown. The field goal was Ziska's first career make and the second-longest in the modern era for Lafayette. George McCaa's 53-yard field goal against Brown in 1909 still stands as the school record.
THE CAPTAINS: Senior linebacker Wes Erbe and senior offensive guard Stephen Bono were elected co-captains by their teammates during spring practice. Both are in their fourth seasons as starters at their respective positions. Erbe, who also served as a co-captain in 2003, is just the fourth player in Lafayette history to be named a captain in two different seasons. The last was Ryan Priest in 1985-86.
THE IRON CURTAIN: Lafayette returns its entire linebacking corps from 2003 in senior Wes Erbe and juniors Maurice Bennett and Blake Costanzo. The trio started all 11 games together a year ago, accounting for 306 tackles between them. Bennett led the team and ranked second in the Patriot League with 108 total tackles, while Erbe was fourth in the league with 104 stops. Erbe also forced five fumbles, tied for second-most nationally. Costanzo was tied for seventh in the Patriot League in total tackles, collecting 94. The group accounted for 12 sacks and 24 tackles for loss...This Season...Bennett leads the Patriot League in total tackles with 84. He has posted 13, 12, 11 and 10 stops, respectively, the past four games. Costanzo has tallied 67 tackles, including a career-high 14 at Bucknell, and 4.5 sacks. Erbe missed the first two games with an ankle injury, but returned against Princeton and has collected 40 tackles, including 11 at Fordham and 10 total tackles and a sack against Harvard.
ORT NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK (10/18): Lafayette junior receiver Joe Ort was named Patriot League Special Teams Player of the Week following his heroics at Bucknell on Oct. 16. Ort, not normally a member of the Leopards' field goal block unit, blocked Bucknell's potential game-winning field goal attempt on the game's final play. In his first appearance since suffering a concussion at Princeton on Sept. 18, Ort also caught two passes for 30 yards, including a 22-yarder on third-and-eight that extended the Leopards' go-ahead scoring drive.
McCOURT NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK (9/13): Senior tailback Joe McCourt was named the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week for his performance at Georgetown on Sept. 11. He ran 24 times for 104 yards and caught two passes for 21 yards in the 17-6 win.
RIGHTING THE SHIP: After back-to-back two-win seasons in 2000 and 2001, Lafayette won 12 games over the 2002-03 seasons, the most for the program in a two-year span since the 1992-93 campaigns, which saw the Leopards win 13 contests and a Patriot League championship in 1992. Lafayette's seven Patriot League wins in 2002-03 are the most since 1994-95.
ON THIS DATE: Lafayette is 12-4-1 all-time on Nov. 6 and has won six straight on this date. The Leopards all-time results on Nov. 6:
Year Opponent Result 1886 Lehigh W, 12-0 1889 Penn W, 10-8 1897 at Princeton L, 57-0 1909 at Pennsylvania T, 6-6 1915 Swarthmore W, 17-0 1920 Bucknell W, 10-7 1926 at Rutgers W, 37-0 1937 Rutgers W, 13-6 1943 at Rutgers L, 13-0 1948 at Rutgers L, 34-13 1954 at Rutgers L, 7-0 1965 Rutgers W, 23-18 1971 at Gettysburg W, 27-12 1976 at Gettysburg W, 30-3 1982 at Princeton W, 47-37 1993 at Holy Cross W, 52-27 1999 Fordham W, 27-7
EARLY START: Lafayette's 2004 season-opener with Marist, played on Sept. 4, is the earliest calendar date on which a Lafayette football game has been played.
THE SECRET WEAPON: Senior punter Mike Davis has been one of the Leopards' most consistent performers this season. He is averaging 37.1 yards per punt and has pinned opponents inside the 20 nine times, including six times inside the 10. Davis had his best day on Sept. 11 at Georgetown, when he punted five times, averaging 41 yards per kick, and forced Georgetown to start inside the 10 three times, including twice inside the five. His 41-yarder in the fourth quarter that was downed by Larry Johnson inside the one set up Andrew Brown's intercepton return for the go-ahead touchdown.
INJURY UPDATE: Four players (Tauren Barker, Gus Ottoson, Nick Snyder and Paul Ziska) will miss the 2004 season due to injuries that occurred either before or in the opening days of preseason camp. In addition, junior receiver Archie Fisher has opted to apply for a medical redshirt. The current listing of Lafayette football injuries (11/1):
- Archie Fisher (Jr., WR) - Out, hamstring
- Mike Gervasio (So., DL) - Out, back
- Ben Hoover (Fr., TE) - Out, foot
- Quindel Ladson (Fr., LB) - Out, medical
- Josh Lupini (Fr., OL) - Out, knee
- Matt Potter (So., LB) - Out, knee
- Eduardo Sanchez (Jr., DL) - Out, broken leg
NOW UNDER CENTER...: At the end of preseason camp, head coach Frank Tavani named sophomore Brad Maurer as the starting quarterback for the season-opener against Marist. Maurer became first Leopard other than Marko Glavic to start a game under center since Chad Ritchie took the opening snap against Harvard on Sept. 30, 2000. Maurer, the Ohio High School Division II Offensive Player of the Year as a senior in 2002, had been battling junior Pat Davis since spring practice for the job.
McCOURT MOVES TO THE TOP: Senior tailback Joe McCourt's two rushing touchdowns against Marist made him Lafayette's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns. He passed Erik Marsh '95, who scored 35 touchdowns on the ground in his record-setting career. McCourt enters the weekend with 41 rushing scores.
MORE McCOURT: Joe McCourt is the lone All-Patriot League honoree returning for Lafayette this season. The 2001 Patriot League Rookie of the Year, McCourt earned All-Patriot League Second-Team honors in 2003.
HOMETOWN HEROES: The 2004 Lafayette roster features five players from the Lehigh Valley:
- 90 Tauren Barker (Jr. / DL / Whitehall, Pa. / Whitehall)
- 14 Michael Bernhard (Fr. / QB / Allentown, Pa. / William Allen)
- 5 Matt Potter (So. / DB / Bethlehem, Pa. / Nazareth)
- 78 Robert Stroble (Jr. / OL / Easton, Pa. / Easton Area)
- 18 John-Frank Stubits (Sr. / TE / Nazareth, Pa. / Nazareth)
LOCAL CONNECTION: Sophomore defensive tackle Dan Liseno is the lone active player who will be playing close to home this weekend. Liseno hails from Clyde, N.Y. and graduated from Clyde-Savannah High School. Paul Ziska, who has missed the 2004 season with a back injury, hails from Endicott, N.Y.
ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT SELECTIONS: Lafayette has remained a mainstay on the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team, with the school being represented by 19 student-athletes during Frank Tavani's first four seasons as head coach. In 2003, offensive linemen Stephen Bono and Curt Wilson were selected to the Academic All-District II Team. Bono, a civil engineering major, was named to first team for the second straight season. Wilson, who received his degree in mechanical engineering last spring, was a three-time Academic All-District II selection, earning first-team accolades as a senior and second-team honors as a sophomore and junior in 2001 and 2002, respectively. Lafayette currently has six student-athletes nominated for the 2004 squad, with the All-District Team slated to be announced Nov. 11.
AND WE GO TO...OVERTIME: Lafayette has played five overtime games all-time and is 1-4 in those contests. After winning the first overtime affair in 1995 over Fordham (24-21 on 11/11/95), the Leopards have lost their last four OT games (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).
THE FRIENDLY CONFINES OF FISHER FIELD: Lafayette will make just four appearances at Fisher Field in 2004, only the second time since the Leopards adopted a 10-game schedule in 1968 that Fisher Field has hosted fewer than five contests. Since 1926, the Leopards have played their home games at Fisher Field. The venue is in its 79th season, having played host to 379 games. Lafayette has recorded 12 undefeated home seasons at Fisher Field and has a 226-140-13 (.614) overall record.
LAFAYETTE LEADS NATION IN TELEVISED GAMES IN DIVISION I-AA: The Lafayette football program leads the nation among Division I-AA teams in 2004 with the most nationally-televised games as the Lafayette Sports Network will broadcast the Leopards' entire schedule on Empire Sports Network, DIRECTV and DISH Network. Regionally, the Lafayette Sports Network can be seen by more than 9.1 million viewers on RCN-TV 4 and WBPH-TV 60 in Eastern Pennsylvania - including all of Philadelphia - and Western New Jersey. The Lafayette Sports Network, which begins its fifth season of national telecasts via DIRECTV and DISH Network, has reached an agreement with Empire Sports Network to air all 11 Lafayette football games in 2004 to its potential audience of more than 17.5 million viewers in Upstate and Western New York as well as more than 40 million potential viewers on DIRECTV (channel 626) and at least 19.5 million possible viewers on DISH Network (channel 432). Empire Sports Network will broadcast seven games live in 2004 - six of the seven road games and the 140th meeting of Lafayette-Lehigh. The one road contest that will not be live, Oct. 9 at Columbia, will be shown that same day in tape-delay. Empire will also broadcast the Leopards' first three home contests in tape-delay the Tuesday following the game at 7 p.m. Local television sports broadcaster Gary Laubach will handle all of the Leopards' play-by-play duties for the eighth straight season. John Leone, Lafayette's Director of Alumni Affairs, will provide color analysis for the seventh straight season. Reporting from the Leopards' sidelines will be Dan Mowdy for the fourth season.
A HISTORY OF 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 Patriot League championships in 1988, 1992 and 1994.
ALL-TIME RECORD: Lafayette is in its 123rd season of intercollegiate football, and enters this weekend with an all-time record of 610-520-39 (.538). The Leopards ranked 33rd all-time in wins with 604 entering the 2004 season.
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.
Joe McCourt has run for 544 yards and five touchdowns in the past four games.