Defenseless: Football Loses 56-49 to Lafayette

Bill Stoklosa

Usually, when you score 49 points, your starting running back rushes for five touchdowns and you have more passing yards than you’ve had all season, you expect to win the game. Things did not, however, go according to plan for Colgate football this past Saturday as they fell to Lafayette, 56-49, dropping the Raiders to 8-2 overall and 3-2 in the Patriot League.

Things actually started out well for the Raider defense as senior linebacker Garrington Spence made a big tackle on third down to force a three-and-out on Lafayette’s first possession. Colgate took advantage of the opportunity to get on the board first, as junior quarterback Greg Sullivan found senior wide recover Pat Simonds in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown strike. Simonds now has a receiving touchdown against every Patriot League opponent over the course of his career.

The Raider lead was short-lived however, as Lafayette managed to score just two plays later. After a Sullivan fumble on Colgate’s next possession, Lafayette took over on the Raider 14. Three plays later, Curley found Mark Layton for an 11-yard strike that put the Leopards up 14-7.

Colgate was forced to punt on their next possession, but a great punt by first-year Trevor Lawler pinned the Leopards back on their own 2. After a 73-yard drive, Lafayette settled for a field goal.

Down by 10, Nate Eachus brought the Raiders back into the game with a 43-yard touchdown run to make it 17-14.

After an interception from Colgate junior corner Coree’ Moses at the Raider 36, Colgate drove the length of the field, finishing with a two-yard touchdown run from Eachus to put Colgate up 21-17.

Responding immediately, the Leopards drove down the field and took a 24-21 lead thanks to a 23-yard pass from Curley to Nathan Padila. Lafayette later nailed a field goal, ending the half up 27-21.

Lafayette scored on their first drive of the second half, capped off by a 35-yard pass from Curley to Randolph, making it 34-21. The Raiders came right back and cut the deficit to six as Eachus found the end zone for the third time. Lafayette scored quickly again as Curley found his fullback, Jeff Cumming, wide open for a 50-yard touchdown. Lafayette converted a two-point try to make the score 42-28.

Before the third quarter was out, Eachus found the end zone again to cut the lead to 42-35. Then the Colgate defense came up huge as Garrington Spence made a nice play that forced a Lafayette three-and-out. On the ensuing possession, Sullivan found junior fullback Gigi Cadet for a 32-yard touchdown that knotted the contest up at 42.

Colgate looked like they might keep the momentum rolling in their favor when Uzi Idah picked off Curley at the Raider five-yard line, but he was stripped by Michael Bolton, who recovered for Lafayette at the Raider 12. Two plays later, Bolton came up huge once again as Curley found him for an 11-yard touchdown strike that put the Leopards up 49-42.

Facing a fourth-and-two after three plays on the ensuing possession, Head Coach Dick Biddle opted to punt. Unfortunately, Lawler’s punt sailed just three yards, setting up Lafayette on the Raider 38. The Leopards drove down the short field and Curley found Mark Layton on a play fake for a five-yard touchdown strike, Curley’s seventh touchdown pass of the day, putting the Leopards up 56-42 with 2:42 left in the contest.

Colgate responded quickly and Eachus got his fifth touchdown with 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Colgate appeared to recover the ensuing onsides kick, but the referee ruled the ball hit a Raider before going the necessary ten yards. The ball went over to the Leopards, who knelt twice and walked away with a 56-49 win.

Curley was the star of the day going throwing for 373 yards and seven scores.

“Our defense didn’t play very well,” Head Coach Dick Biddle said. “They gave up too many big plays; they left too many people wide open. Lafayette was consistently scoring on three and four play drives, while it was taking us 10 to 12 plays to score.”

Things were significantly better for Colgate on the other side of the ball. Not only did Eachus have a stellar game, carrying the ball 45 times for 216 yards and five touchdowns, but Sullivan had his best passing yardage day for the year, throwing for 279 yards and two touchdowns, and he rushed for 48 yards.

Despite the score, Colgate actually outgained Lafayette 558 to 475 on offense.

“The offense had such great success because of the confidence we all have in one another,” Eachus said. “The deeper the game got, the harder we were playing. I think we wore out Lafayette’s defense.”

Head Coach Biddle thought the play from the guys up front was the key to Colgate’s offensive success.

“Our offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage,” Coach Biddle said. “They were supposed to be the best defense in the Patriot League, and we really had our way with them. We were really firing on all cylinders on offense for the fist time in a few games.”

Colgate will try to recover and end the season on a high note with a 1:00 game this Saturday at Andy Kerr Stadium against Bucknell. Everyone is hoping to send the seniors out on a high note.

“It’s tough knowing wer’e out of Patriot League Championship contention,” Eachus said. “I think we will all bounce back strong and win this game for the seniors. They are the heart and soul of this team and we want to win for them and finish 9-2.”

Contact Bill Stoklosa at [email protected].