Football Fights Back to Second in Patriot League

Last Saturday, The Colgate football team de­feated Lafayette 24-14 on their Senior Day at Andy Kerr Stadium. Junior running back Nate Eachus rushed for 212 yards and two touch­downs and the Raiders defense recorded four interceptions for the first time in 14 years. The victory bumped the Raiders back up to second place in the Patriot League.

Eachus went over the 200-yard mark for the third time this season on 32 carries, helping the Raiders control the ground game and the clock in senior quarterback Greg Sullivan’s first game since overcoming an injury. Sullivan and the offense held an 11-minute edge as he went 11-18 for 127 yards and ran for 76 more.

The defense was equally impressive, holding the Leopards to 61 rushing yards and forcing four turnovers through the air. Senior lineback­er Chris DiMassa led the charge, intercepting Lafayette quarterback Marc Quilling twice in Raider territory.

“We switched up the way we run Cover Two this week in practice,” DiMassa said. “All year we have been playing Match Two, which is more of a man concept. Now we run the traditional Tampa Two, which is more of a true zone con­cept. We did a poor job of defending the pass against Lehigh last week and knew something had to change. Our coaches made the proper ad­justments during the week and we came ready to play on Saturday.”

Colgate (5-4, 2-2) looked ready to take control of the game from the start, driving the ball down to the Leopard 24, but Sullivan was picked off by Andrew Shoop to end the Raiders’ threat. After a few fruitless drives, Lafayette (2-7, 1-2) was given prime field position following a personal foul penalty and scored on an Alan Elder run to jump ahead, 7-0.

Colgate responded with a dominating drive, moving the ball on the ground and through the air effectively down to the 10-yard line. The drive stalled there, however, and ‘Gate settled for a field goal from sophomore Evan Colborne to close the gap to four points.

On their next possession, the Raiders ran over the Leopards’ defense as Eachus broke off runs of 28 and 14 yards. Unfortunately, he coughed up the ball at the Lafayette 22 and again Colgate’s offense left the field with nothing. It was then that the defense began to step it up.

Two plays into the Leopards’ drive, Quilling was intercepted by senior defensive end Lamont Sonds who returned the pick for a touchdown. The “pick-6” gave the Raiders a 10-7 lead and they never looked back.

‘Gate came up big again on Lafayette’s next possession as sophomore defensive back Demitri Diamond intercepted it at his own 27 and ran it back into Leopards territory. A few plays later, Eachus broke through for a 34-yard touchdown burst to put the Raiders up ten before the half.

Coming out of halftime, Colgate picked up right where it left off. After forcing a three-and-out to start the second half, The Raiders came right back on offense to score again in only 2:33. The drive was highlighted by a big 20-yard completion from Sullivan to senior fullback Gigi Cadet and finished with a nine-yard scamper by Eachus, his second of the game.

In a drive that dominated the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, Lafayette responded with a nine-play, 90-yard drive capped by a touchdown pass from Quilling to Mark Layton from 19 yards out. The score tightened to 24-14 with 12:52 left to play. On the next possession, Sullivan threw his second pick, this time to Kyle Simmons in Colgate territory, and the Leopards looked to cut the lead.

The defense, however, did not let that happen. Team sacks led by senior end Zach Smith and junior linebacker Adam Lock pushed Lafayette back to the ‘Gate 38, and on third-and-30, Quill­ing lofted it down the field only to be intercepted by DiMassa. The Raiders then did what they do best, moving down to the Leopards 34-yard line in a lucky 13 plays and 7:10. On the ensuing posses­sion, last effort heave from Quilling was once again intercepted by DiMassa to seal the game and give ‘Gate a much-needed 24-14 victory. No one was happier than the senior linebacker.

“[The interceptions] felt great,” DiMassa re­marked. “Being able to seal the game for my teammates and myself was awesome. What made it truly special was the fact that it was the seniors’ last game at Andy Kerr Stadium. I’m going to miss these guys a lot once the season is over.”

The Raiders will next travel to Lewisburg, PA to face a struggling, one-win Bucknell team this upcoming Saturday at 1 p.m.