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Hapless Lafayette finds another way to lose
Apparently, Lafayette didn’t use up all the ways to lose a game a year ago, because it found another one Saturday night.
With the Leopards down by a point and driving to within field goal range with less than two minutes to go, freshman Ross Scheuerman’s fumble was recovered by the Hoyas, who escaped with the 14-13 victory in the Patriot League opener for both teams.
All this came after Lafayette, which looked anything but inspired in the first half, came out with fire for the first time this season. A long bomb from backup quarterback Andrew Shoop went for a touchdown; some excellent defensive play by Leroy Butler and Tyler McFarlane slowed the Hoyas, and the second field goal of the night by freshman kicker Austin O’Brien added a bit of a cushion. It appeared maybe the dark cloud that has been following this team was about to dissipate.
But, as happens so often with teams that have lost the winning touch, the fire went out too soon.
“We started too late; we wasted the whole first half,” said co-captain Mitch Bennett, whose 38-yard touchdown pass from Shoop gave the Leopards a lead in the second half.
And don’t blame Scheuerman, Lafayette Coach Frank Tavani said.
“He’s a freshman and he’s going to feel bad, but it’s not his fault,” Tavani said. “There were people in the backfield who should have been blocked and he’s getting hit as he’s just getting the ball.”
The bottom line is the Leopards have lost their league opener for the second straight year, extended their current losing streak to five games over two years and dropped a game to the Hoyas in the nation’s capital for the first time since 1927.
And if that wasn’t enough bad news, starting quarterback Ryan O’Neil left Multi-Purpose Field with a concussion; tailback Vaughn Hebron, coming back with abandon after off-season ACL surgery, either rolled his right ankle or damaged the Achilles tendon; and freshman Matt Gill of Northern Lehigh suffered a knee injury.
“There are a lot of plays in a game that make a difference,” Tavani said. “We shouldn’t have given up that touchdown at the end of the first half. That’s the second straight game we did that. We’re just making too many mistakes. Too many people on offense making too many mistakes; and for way too long we expect our defense to carry us, carry us, carry us.”
Bennett hit it right. The Leopards had just 87 yards of total offense in the first two quarters, when a 36-yard field goal by O’Brien provided the only points.
And then Lafayette gave up the lead, too, on a 19-yard, third-and-one touchdown pass from Isaiah Kempf to Max Waizenegger with 59 seconds left in the half. “That’s killer,” Tavani said.
O’Neil, trying to make something happen on a first-and-15 in the third period, “got a pretty good shot in the back of the head” in the third period. In came Shoop. He hit tight end Brandon Hall, slot back Jet Kollie and then, when Bennett got behind his man, Shoop hit him right in stride for a go-ahead score.
Hebron, who was held out of last week’s opener to give his repaired knee extra healing time, had 38 yards on five straight carries in the third period and had another seven-yard run in the fourth before he injured his ankle. Lafayette converted two fourth-down plays – the second on a 14-yard run by Shoop – and increased its lead to six with O’Brien’s 31-yard field goal.
But a 42-yard kickoff return set up the winning drive for Georgetown. And finally, on a third-down play at the Lafayette 13, Waizenegger caught a short pass and made three Leopards miss enroute to the end zone for what proved to be the winning TD.
Ben Eaton was in on 10 tackles, Butler on nine and McFarlane on seven in a good showing by the defense. Kyvory Henderson had one sack and another tackle for loss among his seven tackles.
Alan Elder and Hebron had 45 and 44 yards rushing; Shoop was 6-for-12 passing in his relief role for 116 yards. He hooked up with Mark Ross for a 39-yard gain, and Scheuerman for 15 yards to get the ball to the Hoya 24 down the stretch. But on a first-down play at the 23, the ball popped loose from Scheuerman and the Leopards’ comeback bid was finished.
By Paul Reinhard, The Morning Call