Friday, November 16, 2018

2018 in review: not a lot of positive memories

J.J. Younger scored the season's first TD on a 95-yard kickoff return (Photo courtesy of Lafayette College).

Did you know that that seven of Lafayette’s 10 previous opponents this season – including all five non-league foes – have winning records going into games this weekend.

Coach John Garrett mentioned the difficult non-league schedule his team faced this year – Army is currently 8-3, Delaware and Monmouth 7-4 and Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut. I’m not going to get into a ton of research, but I don’t remember a year when the OOC opponents were this good as a group.

Here’s a brief game-by-game recap. Because after the second game, Coach Garrett told the media, “If both (Sean O’Malley and Cole Northrup) continue to play at the starter level, they’ll continue to get reps.” Alas, at a time when we thought they were going to share responsibilities  to take advantage of their differing talents,  the competition almost disappeared for the rest of the year.

O’Malley had one of his real disappointing games of the 2017 season against Lehigh. He was 6-for-18 for 43 yards. It was hard to watch. He didn’t play at a “starter level” that day, but there was no substitution. He has thrown for only three touchdowns this year while being intercepted 11 times. In two seasons, he has 15 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions. Seven of those picks have been returned for touchdowns.

·         Sacred Heart 35 (6-4), Leopards 6 – The Leopards gave the appearance of a real quarterback competition when they used both Sean O’Malley and Cole Northrup in the opener, but neither was effective. Northrup got three series in the second quarter and two in the fourth, and that would be the most play he would get all season. Two Jacob Bissell field goals provided the only Lafayette points, while Sacred Heart rolled up 407 yards of offense
·         Delaware 37 (7-3), Leopards 0 – The Leopards managed just 118 yards of total offense, and the Blue Hens scored on five of six red-zone opportunities while winning for the 14th straight time in the series. Lafayette was minus-18 yards on her ground on just 11 plays. Northrup got minimal playing time in the rout – two series early in the game and two after it was 37-0. He was 1-for-4 passing and was the team’s leading rusher for the day with seven yards – shows how dominant the Blue Hens were.
·         Monmouth 24 (7-3), Leopards 20 – The Leopards scored their first TD of the season, but it didn’t come from the offense; it came on J.J. Younger’s 95-yard kickoff return. Lafayette led 20-15 at the half but was shut down in the second half. Monmouth had too many big plays and rolled up 528 yards of offense.
·         Colgate 45 (9-0), Leopards 0 – The Leopards failed to score a touchdown for the third time in four games, and this timer they contributed to the Raiders’ attack by permitting them to turn three turnovers into scores. Northrup played only one series for the Leopards and it came with 6:16 left in the game after Colgate had scored all its points. He was 4-for-5, including a 28-yard hookup with Jake Liedtke.
·         Leopards 31, Central Conn. 24 (6-4) – C.J. Amill rushed for two touchdowns and ran back a punt for another score as the Leopards won their first non-conference game in John Garrett’s tenure as head coach. Quarterback O’Malley had his best game of the season, throwing for 328 yards and 30 completions on 41 attempts. Chris Granjean had the first catches of his career – six of them for 104 yards. Jeffrey Kordenbrock replaced Bissell as Lafayette’s kicker.
·         Georgetown 13 (5-5), Leopards 6 – Leopard wide receiver Nick Pearson had career highs for pass receptions (10) and yards (140), but Lafayette was held without a touchdown again while the Hoyas made 13 second-quarter points stand up for the win. Kordenbrock booted a pair of 40-yard field goals for Lafayette. O’Malley was intercepted three times and sacked four times and completed less than half his p49 passes for 250 yards.
·         Leopards 29, Bucknell (1-9) 27 – The Leopards finally got their running game going, getting 138 yards on 42 plays. Five different players got into the scoring column for Lafayette, which limited the Bison to minus-2 yards rushing for the day.
·         Leopards 21, Fordham (1-9) 13 – With heavy winds and rain making passing almost impossible, the Leopards went to the run and gained a season-high 280 yards on 58 plays, with both Amill and Selwyn Simpson gaining more than 100 yards. Meanwhile, Fordham had minus-20 yards on the ground in Lafayette’s best defensive effort.   
·         Holy Cross 40 (4-6), Leopards 14 – The Leopards had 15 minutes of positive momentum – and 14 points – but then gave up 40 consecutive points in the middle periods, outgaining them 342-71 to turn he game into a rout. The best play of the day for the Leopards was Amill’s season-long 58-yard run for a touchdown. O’Malley an interception, two sacks and only 156 yards passing, but he went all the way until, in the middle of the final series, Northrup was inserted. He ran one play, fumbled and recovered it. Felt really bad for Northrup; no good reason to make a switch there. I saw it as an insult to Northrup.
·         Army West Point 31 (8-2), Leopards 13 – Army ran the ball on 57 of its 63 plays and defeated the Leopards for the 18th straight time. Kordenbrock’s two field goals and a TD pass from O’Malley to Will Eisler accounted for the only Lafayette points. The Cadets never trailed but didn’t pull away until the second half.



"What you do is go back to history and relate to players how important it is to the community and to former players. There’s a great tradition here that throughout the week I get emails from former players wishing us luck, sharing memories and, like I did last year, I share some of those with the team. That resonates with them. (The former players) remember these plays and years that they played the game vividly, and that helps. (This year's players) have their own memories they talk about recent history as well. … they know it's the longest played rivalry; they know it’s the greatest rivalry in college football, everybody knows what's at stake."


Jerry Powe -- "Not only this week, but the last couple week, I’ve been taking everything in and appreciating Tuesday practice and Wednesday practice, enjoying everything. I’ve been blessed to do this for four years; I’m excited, but at the same time, it is my last week, so, I just want to make everything out of it and give what I can to prepare for this game."

C.J. Amill -- "I'm taking everything in, from putting the helmet on, coming for meetings, even just water breaks on sidelines… really taking in every moment because it’s the last game. You never know how quickly it will come. That we’re here already is amazing to me, but I’m definitely taking in every moment and appreciating it and spending time with my brothers on the field. That’s the way I’m trying to slow it down. It’s been a nice little ride and I don’t want to miss it"

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