Last two Patriot champions set for showdown
(STATS) – The Patriot League champions from the previous two seasons will open their league schedules Saturday night when defending champion Fordham visits Fisher Field to take on 2013 winner Lafayette.
The No. 15 Rams (3-1) averaged 42.3 points while going 6-0 in the conference last season, including a 48-27 win over the Leopards (1-3) on Oct. 25. Fordham’s defense was also impressive in Patriot play last year with an average of 18.0 points allowed.
Fordham has looked great against Patriot opponents over the previous two seasons with an 11-1 record, but the lone blemish came at Fisher Field on Nov. 16, 2013, when the eventual league champion Leopards won 27-14 with the help of five takeaways.
This meeting has some shootout potential if each quarterback can maintain his stellar play from last weekend. Fordham’s Kevin Anderson was outstanding with 340 yards and five touchdowns in a 54-31 win over Monmouth, while Lafayette’s Drew Reed had 308 yards with four TDs through the air and another on the ground in a 35-24 victory over Wagner.
"We certainly know what’s ahead of us (with) the league favorite Fordham coming to town," said Lafayette coach Frank Tavani. "High-powered, high-scoring offense and certainly a very athletic defense. … They have both the offensive and defensive players of the year preseason, so we’ve got a great challenge, but we’re looking forward to it."
Anderson, who is 41 of 57 for 670 yards and 10 TDs in his last two, has the fourth-best rating in the FCS (182.1) and Reed’s 71.1 completion percentage also ranks fourth.
Fordham climbed one spot in the STATS FCS Top 25 after beating Monmouth 54-31 for its second straight win since a 14-7 loss to Villanova on Sept. 12. The Rams have gone 43 consecutive games without back-to-back losses – a streak that spans coach Joe Moorehead’s four seasons on the sidelines at his alma mater. This is their 32nd straight week in the rankings and first time cracking the top 15 this season.
The Patriot League schedule opened in exciting fashion as Colgate scored the final 28 points to stun Holy Cross 31-14 last Saturday in the only conference matchup of the week. James Holland had 146 of Colgate’s 266 rushing yards to help the Raiders rally for their first win after entering the fourth quarter trailing 14-10. Chris Morgan returned an interception 60 yards for a score with 3:12 left to ice it.
CATCHING A RECORD=
With 15 receptions in a 52-26 loss to Princeton on Saturday, Lehigh’s Troy Pelletier tied former Holy Cross star Gordie Lockbaum’s Patriot record for catches in a game. Lockbaum played multiple positions during his career with the Crusaders, holds several league records and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy vote in 1986 and third in 1987 – the closest a small-school player has ever come to college football’s most coveted honor.
NEARLY EVEN IVY=
The Patriot continues its heavy slate of games against Ivy League opponents when Colgate heads to Cornell and Georgetown visits No. 24 Harvard in a pair of Friday night contests. If the Raiders and Hoyas can each pull off a win, the Patriot’s record against the Ivy League since the start of the 2012 season will be even at 27-27. The league mark against the Ivy has been greatly aided by Fordham (6-0) and Lehigh (6-2) in that span.
Fordham quarterback Kevin Anderson won his second straight Offensive Player of the Week Award by throwing five TDs to lead the Rams over Monmouth 54-31. Teammate Makay Redd earned Special Teams honors with a pair of field goals, including a 54-yarder that fell one shy of tying the Patriot record. Colgate defensive end Chris Morgan won the defensive award with seven tackles and a pick-six that sealed a 31-14 comeback win over Holy Cross.
EMPIRE STATE HISTORY=
Colgate renews its 118-year-old series with Central New York rival Cornell on Friday night. The Big Red holds a 48-45-3 advantage in the all-time series, but the Raiders are riding a six-game winning streak in the historic matchup. Colgate’s 27-12 victory last season in Hamilton marked the first win of coach Dan Hunt’s tenure. Cornell hasn’t beaten the Raiders since a 17-14 victory in Ithaca back in 2007.
CAN HOYAS HANDLE HARVARD?=
Georgetown has been one of the Patriot League’s better teams against the pass so far this season with five interceptions and four touchdowns allowed, but Harvard presents a much more difficult task Friday night. The Crimson, who thumped the Hoyas 34-3 in the first-ever meeting last season, lead the FCS with a 202.4 passer rating and have completed 67.8 percent of their pass attempts with seven touchdowns and only one interception.
LAST ONE WAS WILD=
While Lehigh and Yale will meet again Saturday, it’s hard to imagine the Mountain Hawks and Bulldogs can duplicate the outrageous shootout they engaged in last season. The schools combined for 97 points and a whopping 1,204 yards in Yale’s 54-43 comeback win on Sept. 20, 2014. Lehigh held a 21-point lead before being outscored 28-8 in the second half. Morgan Roberts threw a 23-yard TD pass with 12:14 left for Yale’s go-ahead score.
LEADING THE LEAGUE=
After finishing with a career-best 12 catches – albeit for just 79 yards – in last weekend’s 31-14 loss to Colgate, Holy Cross junior wide receiver Brendan Flaherty has a Patriot-leading 26 receptions for 193 yards this season. Flaherty needs only four more catches to match his total from all of last season. The Crusaders host Albany on Saturday in the second meeting between the two after the Great Danes’ 14-13 win on Aug. 30, 2014.
Although Bucknell enjoyed its bye last Saturday, the Bison’s stout defense managed to climb up the FCS rankings. Bucknell stands third in the FCS with 249.3 yards allowed per game and fifth with an average of 13.3 points allowed. Bucknell, which sits in the top 15 in both passing and rushing defense, visits a VMI team on Saturday that has been held to 31 points over its last two games – both losses – after totaling 79 in its first two.
THIS WEEK’S MATCHUPS (All Times Eastern)=
COLGATE (1-3, 1-0) at Cornell (0-2, 0-1 Ivy), 7 p.m.
GEORGETOWN (2-2, 0-0) at No. 24 Harvard (2-0, 1-0 Ivy), 7 p.m.
Yale (2-0, 1-0 Ivy) at LEHIGH (2-2, 0-0), 12:30 p.m.
Albany (2-2, 1-1 CAA) at HOLY CROSS (1-2, 0-1), 1 p.m.
BUCKNELL (2-1, 0-0) at VMI (1-3, 0-1 Southern), 1:30 p.m.
No. 15 FORDHAM (3-1, 0-0) at LAFAYETTE (1-3, 0-0), 6 p.m.