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Holy Cross Breaks Lafayette's Heart
Touchdown with six seconds left ends Leopards’ title and playoff hopes.
EASTON - All the Lafayette Leopards will remember from one of the all-time great football games ever played on their storied campus Saturday will be the half-dozen or so ways they should have wrapped up a victory before Holy Cross shocked them at the end.
The Crusaders pulled out a 27-26 victory in a Patriot League game they never led until 6 seconds remained, when Matt Partain kicked an extra point to set the final score following a dramatic 37-yard touchdown pass from Dominic Randolph to former sophomore backup quarterback Rob Koster.
The win set Holy Cross (7-3, 5-0) up with a chance to capture the league championship if it can win at Colgate, which also is undefeated in the league, next week. Lafayette (7-3, 3-2) will have to find a way to regroup for Lehigh.
That won’t be easy, considering all the sleep-depriving memories generated from this one.
On the Crusaders’ final touchdown drive alone, Randolph converted twice on fourth down, then found Koster streaking wide open in the end zone despite Lafayette employing a soft Cover 3.
“That’s on our corner,” Lafayette coach Frank Tavani said. “You’ve got three deep zones and the (outside) third) was his main responsibility. … That’s all he has to worry about on that play.”
For those who also saw the back of safety Nick Oliver’s jersey on the play, it meant Oliver was not responsible. Though Tavani did not identify him by name, Marvin Clecidor was.
But that was just one of many factors that could have prevented the unthinkable.
There was a missed extra point after Lafayette’s final touchdown, Holy Cross winning most of the battles on the line of scrimmage, two failures to find the end zone from the red zone and the inability to stop Holy Cross’s final two possessions.
“There will be that (last Holy Cross touchdown) play, there will be the missed extra point. Those things kind of stand out,” Tavani said. “But I’ll remember a lot of other things already before even looking at film. And after looking at the film, I’ll really see some more things.
“But things that stand out to me are the two third-and-ones we didn’t convert. You can’t do that in a championship ballgame offensively. I thought all day that (Holy Cross) was winning the line of scrimmage, and that’s not a good thing and we weren’t getting the push we normally do. Then I thought we came back and battled and drove down there when we had to.”
Randolph was given the time by his offensive line to pass for 422 yards and overcome two interceptions that set up Lafayette touchdowns.
The first was provided by linebacker Mark Leggiero, who squelched the Crusaders’ long game-opening series with a pick at the Lafayette 17-yard line and ensuing 39-yard return.
Lafayette capitalized on the next play, when quarterback Marc Quilling, who has emerged as the starter after Rob Curley was felled by a concussion two weeks earlier, hit Shaun Adair on a quick-out pattern and then watched him make a masterful run for a 44-yard touchdown.
The second came when safety Eric McGovern intercepted in the end zone to set up an 80-yard drive capped by DeAndre Morrow’s 2-yard TD run.
“It’s fun to go out there and play against the best offense,” McGovern said. “And we made some plays, but the bottom line is that we didn’t make the plays when they counted.
“When it came down to it, they made more plays than we did.”
Morrow’s second touchdown came when he ran it in from 26 yards, diving for and scraping the right pylon with 2:45 to go.
Given the way the contest was unfolding in the second half, it left too much time on the clock for Lafayette to be able to hold off Randolph and his teammates.
But after a holding call knocked Holy Cross back to the 37 with under 20 seconds remaining, it didn’t have many options when the decisive play was called.
To everyone’s surprise, he spotted Koster, who streaked into the end zone untouched before catching the ball.
“In that situation, I was just surprised that we got by them, based on the skill level that Lafayette has,” Holy Cross coach Tom Gilmore said. “They’re a great team and a great defense, so I was just surprised that we got it all in one play.”
Holy Cross breaks Lafayette’s heart
By Nick Fierro, The Easton Express-Times