Aug. 25, 2014
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Five Patriot League schools will kick off their 2014 season on Saturday, including three at home.
Patriot League Twitter Notebook - @PatriotLeagueFB
*The 2013 season kicks off with five games this weekend.
*The afternoon features Georgetown hosting Wagner at Noon and Colgate playing at Ball State at 2 p.m. on ESPN3.
*Dan Hunt (Colgate) and Rob Sgarlata (Georgetown) each make their head coaching debuts.
*The evening slate includes Fordham hosting St. Francis (Pa.), Bucknell welcoming VMI and Holy Cross at Albany.
*The Fordham and Bucknell games will both be on Patriot League Network, with Holy Cross/Albany on ESPN3.
*Lehigh and Lafayette each open the season next week.
*Fordham is ranked at No. 11/12 in the country and was a heavy favorite in the Patriot League preseason poll.
*Fordham aims to begin with a win at home for the third year in a row, and extend a seven-game home win streak.
*Bucknell tries to open the season with a victory for the fourth year in a row.
*Georgetown is trying to open with a victory for the fourth time in five years, and win a fifth straight home opener.
*Holy Cross tries to win its season opener for the first time since 2010, and its road opener for the first time since 2009.
*Colgate goes for its first win over an FBS opponent since beating Buffalo 38-15 in 2003.
*Fordham quarterback Mike Nebrich and wide receiver Sam Ajala are candidates for the Walter Payton Award.
*Fordham linebacker Stephen Hodge is up for the Buck Buchanan Award.
Patriot League Notebook
FIVE TEAMS OPEN SEASON ON SATURDAY
Five Patriot League schools will kick off their 2014 season on Saturday, including three at home. The afternoon contests feature the Patriot League's two new head coaches as Georgetown welcomes Wagner (12 p.m., Hoya Vision) and Colgate plays an FBS opponent as it heads to Ball State (2 p.m., ESPN3). The evening contests all begin at 6 p.m., and two will be featured on Patriot League Network as No. 11/12 Fordham hosts St. Francis (Pa.) and Bucknell welcomes VMI. Holy Cross visits Albany in a game that will be available on ESPN3.
HEAD COACHING DEBUTS
A pair of coaches will make their debut on Saturday, though both are quite familiar with their school and the Patriot League. Dan Hunt takes over at Colgate and Rob Sgarlata at Georgetown after each served nearly two decades as an assistant at their school and most recently worked as coordinators and assistant head coaches. Hunt takes over for Dick Biddle, who won seven League titles from 1996-13, while Sgarlata succeeds Kevin Kelly, who coached Georgetown from 2006-13.
FORDHAM OPENS SEASON IN TOP 15 OF FCS POLLS
After finishing in the top 10 of both national rankings last year, Fordham starts in nearly the same place in 2014. The Rams enter the year at No. 11 in The Sports Network top 25 and No. 12 in the FCS Coaches Poll. The Rams were also the unanimous favorite of opposing coaches and sports information directors in the Patriot League preseason poll as they bring back 15 All-Patriot League selections and have the returning Offensive (QB Mike Nebrich) and Defensive (LB Stephen Hodge) Player of the Year in the Patriot League.
BACK TO A SEVEN-TEAM RACE IN 2014
For the first time since 2009, all seven teams will be eligible for the Patriot League title in 2014. Fordham had been ineligible the past four seasons after awarding athletic scholarships starting in the fall of 2010, before they were permitted in the Patriot League starting with last year's freshman class. All games between League members will also once again count towards the final standings.
PATRIOT LEAGUE FOOTBALL RETURNS TO CBS SPORTS NETWORK
The Patriot League will have an impressive presence on CBS Sports Network in 2014 with four contests scheduled. The Patriot League games will be on Friday nights as Lafayette visits Fordham on Oct. 3 at 6:30 p.m. and the Rams travel to Bucknell on Nov. 7 at 6:30 p.m. The final games will close the regular season on Nov. 22 with Fordham at Army at 12 p.m. followed by Lafayette facing Lehigh in the 150th meeting of the Most-Played Rivalry in College Football at 3:30 p.m. from Yankee Stadium. CBS Sports Network is the 24-hour cable home of CBS Sports. It is available across the country through local cable, video and telco providers and via satellite on DIRECTV Channel 221 and Dish Network Channel 158
PATRIOT LEAGUE NETWORK TO BROADCAST MOST HOME GAMES
The majority of home games for Patriot League teams will be shown for free with live streaming on Patriot League Network. PLN, which is in its second season, will showcase home games for Bucknell, Colgate, Fordham, Holy Cross, Lafayette and Lehigh with the exception of contests carried on CBS Sports Network for a total of 28 games in 2014. Campus Insiders will exclusively produce eight games. All games on Patriot League Network can be seen by visiting www.patriotleague.tv.
MORE TELEVISION COVERAGE THROUGH ASN, REGIONAL OUTLETS
The Patriot League entered into an agreement with American Sports Network to broadcast games beginning in the 2014-15 season, and it begins with a handful of football contests as Fordham visits Villanova on Sept. 6 at 3:30 p.m. and Georgetown heads to Colgate at Noon on Sept. 27. ASN will also broadcast Lehigh's visit to New Hampshire on Sept. 13 at 3:30 p.m. Lehigh, Holy Cross and Colgate have additional regional television coverage, with Lafayette expected to announce its schedule of televised games on Lafayette Sports Network soon.
FORDHAM TRIO NAMED TO FCS AWARD WATCH LISTS
Three Fordham seniors are on the preseason watch lists for major FCS awards, as quarterback Mike Nebrich and wide receiver Sam Ajala are up for the Walter Payton Award (Most Outstanding Player) and linebacker Stephen Hodge is a candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award (Top Defensive Player). Fordham tied Eastern Washington for the most overall nominees on the lists, and the two schools were the only programs with multiple Payton candidates in the preseason.
SPORTS NETWORK NAMES EIGHT AS PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS
Eight Patriot League players received Preseason FCS All-America status from The Sports Network, with Fordham tying for the most selections nationally with five on the list. The Rams had a pair of first-team selections, with Ajala on offense and Hodge on defense. Nebrich and offensive lineman Mason Halter made the second-team offense, with tight end Dan Light on the third team. Lafayette running back/return specialist Ross Scheuerman earned a spot on the second team as an all-purpose player, with Lehigh offensive lineman Ned Daryoush and Bucknell linebacker Evan Byers each making the third team.
PATRIOT LEAGUERS COME FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY
This year's Patriot League football student-athletes come from 35 different states, as well as Washington, D.C., the Virgin Islands and four other countries. There are a League-high 126 student-athletes from Pennsylvania, with 117 from New Jersey. Florida (59), New York (54) and Illinois (29) round out the top five states for Patriot League players.
FOLLOW THE NATION THROUGH FCS INSIDER
The FCS Insider website, fcsinsider.com, debuted in the fall of 2013 and includes coverage on all of the teams and conferences throughout the country. A notebook will be produced each week to highlight the top storylines for each conference.
This Week in the Patriot League
Wagner Seahawks (0-0, 0-0 NEC) at Georgetown Hoyas (0-0, 0-0)
Multi-Sport Field; Washington, D.C. - Saturday, 12 p.m.
Coverage: Hoya Vision
*Georgetown opens the season against Wagner for the second year in a row on Saturday at Multi-Sport Field.
*Rob Sgarlata will make his debut as the Hoya head coach after nearly two decades as an assistant.
*Wagner scored three second-half touchdowns to rally for a 28-21 season-opening win against the Hoyas in 2013.
*The teams are playing for the fifth year in a row overall, splitting their meetings over the last four seasons.
*Georgetown's wins over Wagner came in 2011 and 2012, which was a 13-10 victory at home.
*The Hoyas are 3-2 all-time against the Seahawks, with another win on the road in 2000.
*Patriot League teams are 2-4 all-time against the Seahawks.
*Georgetown is trying to open the season with a victory for the fourth time in five years.
*The Hoyas also aim to win their home opener for the fifth straight season.
Colgate Raiders (0-0, 0-0) at Ball State Cardinals (0-0, 0-0 MAC)
Scheumann Stadium; Muncie, Ind. - Saturday, 2 p.m.
*Colgate opens the season against an FBS opponent for the second year in a row when it visits Ball State on Saturday.
*The 2 p.m. contest can be seen on ESPN3.
*It will be the head coaching debut at Colgate for Dan Hunt, who assisted Dick Biddle for nearly two decades in Hamilton.
*Colgate fell 38-13 in last year's season opener at Air Force.
*Colgate's most recent win against an FBS foe was a 38-15 victory at Buffalo in 2003.
*Fordham gave the Patriot League a victory over an FBS opponent last year when it beat Temple 30-29.
*Ball State is coached by former Lehigh head coach Pete Lembo (2001-05).
*Kevin Kelly is Ball State's defensive coordinator after serving as Georgetown head coach the previous eight seasons.
*Colgate becomes the first Patriot League team to face Ball State.
St. Francis (Pa) Red Flash (0-0, 0-0 NEC) at No. 11/12 Fordham Rams (0-0, 0-0)
Jack Coffey Field; Bronx, N.Y. - Saturday, 6 p.m.
Coverage: Patriot League Network
*No. 11/12 Fordham opens the 2014 season at home against St. Francis (Pa.) out of the Northeast Conference.
*The Rams scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat the Red Flash 38-20 on the road last season.
*Fordham took a 2-0 lead in the all-time series as the schools met for the first time since 1948.
*Patriot League teams are 2-0 all-time against the Red Flash, with Georgetown also beating St. Francis (Pa.) in 2004.
*Fordham aims to open the season with a win at home for the third year in a row.
*The Rams also try to extend a seven-game home winning streak after a perfect mark at Jack Coffey Field last season.
VMI Keydets (0-0, 0-0 Southern) at Bucknell Bison (0-0, 0-0)
Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium; Lewisburg, Pa. - Saturday, 6 p.m.
Coverage: Patriot League Network
*Bucknell begins the 2014 season at home against VMI on Saturday at 6 p.m. on Patriot League Network.
*The teams met to close the 2013 campaign with the Bison pulling out a 35-23 road win to finish 6-5 overall.
*It was just the second meeting between the schools, with VMI winning the first in 1978.
*Patriot League teams are 4-2 all-time against VMI after Bucknell's win last year.
*VMI is in its first year in the Southern Conference, and it is the only matchup between the leagues this season.
*Bucknell aims to open the season with a victory for the fourth year in a row.
Holy Cross Crusaders (0-0, 0-0) at Albany Great Danes (0-0, 0-0 CAA)
Bob Ford Field; Albany, N.Y. - Saturday, 6 p.m.
*Holy Cross heads to Albany to open the 2014 season on Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPN3.
*Albany went 1-11 last season, but defeated Colgate 37-34 for its only victory.
*Greg Gattuso is in his first season as Albany head coach as he succeeds Bob Ford, who directed the program for 41 years.
*Patriot League teams are an even 6-6 all-time against the Great Danes.
*Holy Cross tries to win its season opener for the first time since 2010, and its road opener for the first time since 2009.
Bucknell The Bison open the 2014 season at home against VMI on Saturday evening... Bucknell finished 6-5 last season, winning five of the final six games with the only loss coming in the final seconds at Fordham...The Bison were hot on both sides of the ball down the stretch, scoring at least 27 points four times and holding opponents to 14 points or less in four of the final six games...The Bison bring back most of the core from last year's team, and have six preseason All-Patriot League selections...Running back C.J. Williams and offensive linemen Julie'n Davenport and Lonnie Rawles were picked on offense, with lineman Demetrius Baldwin-Youngblood, linebacker Evan Byers and defensive back Matthew Steinbeck earning preseason recognition on defense...Sophomore R.J. Nitti takes over at quarterback, while the defense has its top five tacklers back in in Byers, Steinbeck, linebacker Lee Marvel and safeties Clayton Ewell and Louis Taglianetti..Bucknell will play its five non-League contests before opening League play on Oct. 11, and will go on the road for the first time next week when it visits Sacred Heart.
Colgate The Raiders will have a new head coach for the first time in nearly two decades when Dan Hunt leads them into a matchup at Ball State on Saturday...Hunt was an assistant under Dick Biddle, who retired after 18 seasons and seven Patriot League titles as head coach of the Raiders... The Raiders, picked fifth in the Patriot League preseason poll, come off a rare losing season where they finished 4-8 overall, though they did tie for second in League action with a 3-2 mark... Colgate loses quarterback Gavin McCarney, the 2012 Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, and will look to sophomore Jake Melville to take over...John Wilkins and Demetrius Russell both return at running back, while Ed Pavalko is a preseason All-Patriot League fullback... Jordi Dalmau leads the offensive line after an All-Patriot League season as a freshman...The defense has a pair of preseason All-Patriot League honorees in linebacker Kris Kent and defensive back Mike Armiento...After a bye week, Colgate has another daunting road trip when it visits Delaware on Sept. 13.
Fordham The Rams are ranked No. 11 by The Sports Network and No. 12 in the FCS Coaches Poll to open the 2014 season...Fordham was also the unanimous first-place selection of opposing coaches and sports information directors in the Patriot League preseason poll...The Rams have earned numerous preseason honors after going 12-2 overall and finishing in the top ten nationally last year...Quarterback Mike Nebrich has been named Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and is a candidate for the Walter Payton Award along with wide receiver Sam Ajala...Linebacker Stephen Hodge is the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year and a candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award, while tight end Dan Light and offensive lineman Mason Halter join the trio as preseason All-America selections...An additional seven Rams made the preseason All-Patriot League squad, where 11 of Fordham's 12 honorees are seniors...The Rams return all but two of their All-Patriot League selections from last season...Fordham opens the season at home against St. Francis (Pa.) on Saturday, then has a top-15 matchup on the schedule next week when it visits No. 12/13 Villanova.
Georgetown Rob Sgarlata takes over as head coach as Georgetown opens its season at home against Wagner on Saturday afternoon...Sgarlata has served as an assistant at the school for nearly two decades, and was the defensive coordinator under Kevin Kelly the past eight seasons...The Hoyas have Kyle Nolan returning at quarterback and three seniors on the offensive line, though they have to replace most top skill position players from last season...The front seven is the strength of the defense featuring Alec May on the line and preseason All-Patriot League pick Nick Alfieri at linebacker...The Hoyas play four non-League games before opening their League slate on Sept. 27...The next two games are on the road as Georgetown visits Dayton next week and Marist on Sept. 13.
Holy Cross The Crusaders begin their year on Saturday at Albany as they aim to reverse their fortunes after two straight losing seasons...Holy Cross went 3-9 last year and is 5-18 over the last two years, though 11 of those losses were decided by a touchdown or less...The Crusaders appear set at the quarterback position as Peter Pujals is back after a Patriot League Rookie of the Year campaign where he put up more than 2,700 yards of total offense and 27 total touchdowns in just eight starts...Gabe Guild joins his classmate in the backfield after rushing for 496 yards and five touchdowns in 2013...The defense has four of its top five tacklers returning in defensive backs Matt Bhaya, Logan Silver and Ben Coffaro and linebacker Tyler Zeoli...The Crusaders play a 12-game schedule for the second straight year, and will not have their bye week until Nov. 1...Holy Cross has its next two games at home, opening at Fitton Field against Morgan State on Sept. 6 before Central Connecticut comes in the following week.
Lafayette The Leopards are off on the season's opening weekend and will begin their campaign next Saturday at Sacred Heart...It will be a matchup of defending conference champions as the Leopards won the Patriot League in 2013 and the Pioneers captured the Northeast Conference...The Leopards did not win a non-League contest last season, but went 5-1 against Patriot League teams to claim the title...Quarterback Drew Reed was a big part of that success by completing 73% of his passes for 1,887 yards and 17 touchdowns in six starts as a freshman...Running back Ross Scheuerman is a preseason All-American after totaling 1,920 all-purpose yards last year....He made the preseason All-Patriot League squad along with offensive lineman Luke Chiarolanzio and defensive back/return specialist Matt Smalley, who earned a preseason nod at both spots..Smalley and Jared Roberts each earned All-League status in the secondary last year, while Steve Mercado received the recognition on the line...The Leopards play their home opener on Sept. 13 against Robert Morris.
Lehigh The Mountain Hawks are off this weekend before opening their year with two difficult tests when they host James Madison on Sept. 6 and visit No. 4/4 New Hampshire on Sept. 13...Lehigh has won all of its non-League contests in each of the last two seasons for a 10-game streak against foes outside of the Patriot League...The Mountain Hawks have also won 13 straight games decided by seven points or less...Lehigh will have some change, however, with new coordinators on offense and defense and only eight returning starters from last year's 8-3 squad...They will have a new quarterback for the third year in a row as sophomore Nick Shafnisky looks to open the season in the position, and will have a handful of new players at the skill positions...Ned Daryoush is a preseason All-American on the offensive line...Preseason All-Patriot League pick Tim Newton leads the defense on the line...A handful of key players are back in the front seven, but last year's starting secondary all departed...Lehigh has a 39-9 record over the last four seasons.