CENTER VALLEY, Pa. -- Patriot League football has finally returned. The 2012 season kicks off on Thursday night with Fordham and Holy Cross in action, while No. 11/16 Lehigh, Colgate and Georgetown take the field on Saturday.
The Rams play the first game of the Joe Moorhead era when they welcome Lock Haven, while the Crusaders will have a tough test with No. 12/14 New Hampshire. It is the second straight season that Holy Cross will open up under the lights at Fitton Field.
On Saturday, No. 11/16 Lehigh begins its quest for a three-peat and return to the postseason when it welcomes Monmouth at 12:30 p.m.. Colgate and Georgetown both head on the road, with the Raiders visiting Albany and the Hoyas at Davidson both at 6 p.m.
Lafayette and Bucknell each have a bye on the opening weekend, and will begin their seasons next Saturday. The Leopards and Bison will later take part in the first Patriot League contest of the season when Lafayette heads to Bucknell on Sept. 22 in a game shown on CBS Sports Network at 12 p.m. Two-time defending champion Lehigh has been picked to win the crown once again in the Patriot League preseason poll. Holy Cross, Colgate, Georgetown, Lafayette and Bucknell followed the Mountain Hawks, while Fordham remains ineligible for the League title.
@PatriotLeagueFB Twitter Notebook
*Five of the Patriot League's seven teams kick off the season this weekend.
*Holy Cross plays No. 12/14 New Hampshire, the only matchup against a ranked opponent.
*Fordham hosts Lock Haven in its first game with Head Coach Joe Moorhead.
*Lehigh enters the season as the Patriot League favorite and ranked No. 11/16 in the country.
*Lehigh has won nine consecutive regular-season games entering its opener.
*Colgate defeated Albany 37-34 in overtime to open the 2011 season.
*Georgetown has started with a win over Davidson for two years in a row.
*Holy Cross is opening its season at home for the fifth year in a row.
*Lehigh senior wide receiver Ryan Spadola is the Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.
*Georgetown senior linebacker Robert McCabe is the Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
*Spadola is a preseason candidate for the Walter Payton Award.
*Spadola, Fordham's Patrick Murray and Georgetown's Jeremy Moore each received multiple preseason All-America honors.
*Patriot League teams will make four national TV appearances in 2012, along with multiple regional telecasts.
*Lafayette and Bucknell will open their seasons next week.
*The Leopards and Bison will begin the Patriot League schedule on Sept. 22 in Lewisburg (CBS Sports Network)
Patriot League Notebook
SIX-TEAM RACE FOR PATRIOT LEAGUE TITLE
For the third straight year, six teams will vie for the Patriot League championship, as Fordham is ineligible for the title because it began awarding athletic merit aid with the freshman class entering in the fall of 2010. The Rams' contests are still considered League games, but will not count in the standings for either teams. Matchups against Fordham can be applied in a common opponents tiebreaker should it be necessary to determine the Patriot League's automatic qualifier to the postseason. The Rams will be eligible for the Patriot League title again beginning in 2014, and can contend for individual League honors this season.
LEHIGH OPENS THE SEASON AT NO. 11, 16 IN NATIONAL POLLS
After finishing No. 5/6 nationally last year, Lehigh opens the 2012 season at No. 11 in the FCS Coaches Poll and No. 16 The Sports Network top 25. The two polls are the official weekly rankings for the Football Championship Subdivision and will be released each week during the year. Lehigh also garnered plenty of preseason recognition from magazines and websites covering the FCS. The Mountain Hawks topped out at No. 10 in the preseason poll by College Sports Journal, and also came in at No. 11 from College Sporting News and Beyond Sports Network, No. 12 in Lindy's College Football, No. 18 in Phil Steele's and No. 25 in Athlon College Football. Holy Cross also came in at No. 40 in Phil Steele's.
SPADOLA OPENS THE YEAR ON WALTER PAYTON AWARD WATCH LIST....
Lehigh senior wide receiver Ryan Spadola earned his most prestigious honor in a long line of preseasons accolades when he was selected as one of 20 initial candidates for the Walter Payton Award Watch List, presented by The Sports Network to the Most Outstanding Player in the Football Championship Subdivision. Spadola is one of eight candidates on the list for the first time, and one of four wide receivers to receive mention for the top individual award in the FCS. Spadola caught 96 passes for a Patriot League-record 1,614 yards with 11 touchdowns last season.
AND LEADS LIST OF PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS
Spadola also earned first-team preseason All-America honors from The Sports Network, where he was joined by Fordham senior punter Patrick Murray on the second team and Georgetown senior defensive back Jeremy Moore on the third team. Murray finished third in the nation with a 44.1 punting average for the Rams, who led the FCS in net punting. Moore was named a first-team All-Patriot League selection as both a defensive back and a kickoff returner last season. He had four interceptions for the season while recording 58 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Moore led the Patriot League with a 29.2 yards per kickoff return, the best single-season average in Georgetown history. The trio led the Patriot League in a number of All-America lists. Here's a look at some of the other honors heading into the 2012 season.
Walter Payton Award Watch List: Ryan Spadola, Lehigh (Sr., WR) Sports Network: 1st team: Spadola 2nd team: Murray 3rd team: Moore College Sports Journal: 1st team: Spadola 2nd team: Murray, Moore College Sporting News: 2nd team: Spadola, Murray 3rd team: Moore Phil Steele's: 1st team: Spadola 2nd team: Murray Beyond Sports Network: 1st team: Spadola, Murray, Mike Vuono, Lehigh (Sr., OL); 2nd team: Moore, Robert McCabe, Georgetown (Sr., LB); Jamel Haggins, Lehigh (Sr., TE); 3rd team Gerald Mistretta, Holy Cross (Sr., WR)
PATRIOT LEAGUERS SELECTED AS AFCA GOOD WORKS AWARD CANDIDATES
Two Patriot League seniors have been selected as nominees for the 2012 All State AFCA Good Works Team, with both Colgate's Chris Looney and Fordham's Brendan Melanophy named for the honor that recognizes a select group of college football players committed to making a difference in their communities.
FOUR NATIONAL APPEARANCES FOR PATRIOT LEAGUE FOOTBALL
Five Patriot League teams will have a national television appearance in 2012, including four who will play as part of the League's agreement with CBS Sports Network. Lafayette will visit Bucknell in the Patriot League opener on the network at Noon on Sept. 22, while Colgate will travel to Lehigh in a CBS Sports Network telecast at 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 10. Also, Bucknell travels to Harvard in a CBS Sports Network-televised game at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 13, and Georgetown goes to Princeton on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. in a matchup televised on ESPNU. Lehigh and Holy Cross have already announced regional telecasts, with additional teams expected to reveal their television schedules soon.
No. 12/14 UNH Wildcats (0-0, 0-0 CAA) at Holy Cross Crusaders (0-0, 0-0) Fitton Field; Worcester, Mass. Thursday; 7:30 p.m.
*Holy Cross opens the season at home against New Hampshire, starting under the lights for the second year in a row.
*The Crusaders fell 39-32 at New Hampshire last season, and Patriot League teams are only 1-13 all-time vs. the Wildcats.
*Last year's matchup marked the first time since 1984 that the two squads faced off.
*Holy Cross is opening at home for the fifth year in a row, going 2-2 in the previous years with both losses to UMass.
*Holy Cross Head Coach Tom Gilmore has a 4-4 record in both overall and home openers.
Lock Haven Bald Eagles (0-0) at Fordham Rams (0-0) Jack Coffey Field; Bronx, N.Y. Thursday; 7 p.m.
*Fordham opens the season at home against Lock Haven, just the second Patriot League team to face the Bald Eagles.
*Towson beat Lock Haven in 2003 in the prior matchup for the Patriot League versus the Bald Eagles.
*It is the first time since 2010, when Fordham lost to Assumption, that a Patriot League team will play a non-Division I foe.
*Fordham's Joe Moorhead is coaching his first game, becoming the first former Patriot Leaguer to become head coach at one of the institutions.
*Fordham has won its home opener in three of the past four years, but last opened the season with a win in 2008 against Rhode Island.
Monmouth Hawks (0-0, 0-0 NEC) at No. 11/16 Lehigh Mountain Hawks (0-0, 0-0) Goodman Stadium; Bethlehem, Pa. Saturday; 12:30 p.m. (Service Electric 2 Sports)
*Lehigh opens the season at No. 11/16 in the nation when it welcomes Monmouth to Goodman Stadium on Saturday.
*The Mountain Hawks began the 2011 campaign with a 49-24 victory on the road at Monmouth.
*The teams last met at Lehigh in 2005, a 54-26 win for the Mountain Hawks.
*Lehigh is 3-0 in the all-time series with Monmouth, also beating the Hawks at home by a 56-10 final in 1999.
*The Mountain Hawks have not won their home opener since beating Drake in 2008 to begin the year. Lehigh is 3-3 in season openers under Head Coach Andy Coen, but just 1-5 in Coen's tenure in the first game of the year at Goodman Stadium.
Georgetown Hoyas (0-0, 0-0) at Davidson Wildcats (0-0, 0-0) Richardson Stadium; Davidson, N.C. Saturday; 6 p.m.
*Georgetown is trying to open the year with a win over Davidson for the third year in a row. The Hoyas won 40-16 at home last year and 20-10 on the road in 2010.
*The Hoyas are 6-3 all-time against Davidson, with a 6-1 mark as a Patriot League member.
*That accounts for all of the Patriot League's non-League matchups with Davidson, a League member from 1986-88.
*Georgetown has not opened with a win in three consecutive seasons since 1997-99.
*Head Coach Kevin Kelly is 3-3 in season openers, with three wins in the last four years.
Colgate Raiders (0-0, 0-0) at Albany Great Danes (0-0, 0-0 NEC) University Field; Albany, N.Y. Saturday; 6 p.m.
*Colgate opens with Albany for the second year in a row, defeating the Great Danes 37-34 in overtime last year at home.
*Colgate also beat Albany 13-11 to begin the 2007 season in the only other matchup between the schools.
*The Raiders have opened the season with a win in three straight seasons, and four of the last five years.
*Colgate last began the year with a road victory in 2003, when it went on to play in the national title game.
*Colgate is 6-10 in season openers under Head Coach Dick Biddle, but just 1-6 when opening on the road in that stretch.
Bucknell The Bison will begin their third season under Head Coach Joe Susan on Sept. 8 when they visit Marist...Bucknell does not open its home schedule until Sept. 22 when Lafayette comes to town for a game shown on CBS Sports Network...The Bison went 6-5 overall last season for their first winning record since 2006... Though the team suffered key losses on the offensive and defensive lines, the Bison bring back four All-Patriot League performers from last season...Senior running back Tyler Smith and junior fullback Travis Friend each had strong seasons in the backfield, with Smith rushing for 795 yards and eight touchdowns...Senior linebacker Beau Traber leads the defense after making 63 tackles last year, with all three also named to the preseason All-Patriot League Team...Senior Ryan Gutowski also earned All-Patriot League distinction at punter last season after 36.7 yards per kick.
Colgate The Raiders are coming off their first losing season in Patriot League play since 1995, the year before 17th-year Head Coach Dick Biddle took over the program...A 5-6 record marked just the second time in Biddle's tenure that the Raiders finished below .500 overall...Colgate will be led by the preseason All-Patriot League quarterback, as junior Gavin McCarney looks to build on a 2011 season where he recorded 2,399 yards of total offense and 20 total touchdowns...Offensive linemen Ryan Risch and Andrew Scarmado joined their quarterback as preseason All-League picks...Colgate will play its first two games on the road, with a journey out to South Dakota on Sept. 8 after Saturday's season opener against Albany...The Raiders begin their home schedule on Sept. 15 when Sacred Heart comes to town...It will be the only non-League home game for the Raiders, who play four of five away from Hamilton in September to complete their non-League slate.
Fordham Fordham will be led by first-year Head Coach Joe Moorhead, a former All-Patriot League player at quarterback for the Rams from 1993-95...Moorhead becomes the first former Patriot League player to serve as head coach at one of the institutions...Moorhead inherits a team that was just 1-10 last season, but brings back a number of key players on both sides of the ball...Three
seniors on the defense earned preseason All-Patriot League honors, with Nick Womack (DL), Mike Martin (LB) and Patrick Murray (P) all capturing the praise..Junior Justin Yancey also returns on the defensive line after missing the majority of the 2011 season due to injury...The quarterback position could be interesting, with senior Ryan Higgins and sophomore Peter Maetzold both returning after seeing plenty of action last year and Connecticut transfer Michael Nebrich also in the mix...Moorhead was Nebrich's position coach at UConn last season.
Georgetown The Hoyas come off their best season as a Patriot League member in 2011, going 8-3 overall and 3-2 in Patriot League action to finish in a tie for second in the standings last year...To continue the progress, the Hoyas will rely on a strong defense led by Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Robert McCabe at linebacker and Jeremy Moore at defensive back...
Moore earned preseason All-Patriot League honors at both defensive back and return specialist, while Mike Roland was named on the offensive line...Georgetown will have to replace Andrew Schaetzke, who was named Patriot League and ECAC Defensive Player of the Year last season, on the defensive line...The Hoyas will open their home schedule on Sept. 8 against Wagner...The schedule sets up differently this season, as for the first time since joining the Patriot League the Hoyas will not face a League opponent in September...Georgetown completes its non-League schedule before going to Fordham for its Patriot League opener on Oct. 6.
Holy Cross The Crusaders enter the 2012 season picked second in the preseason Patriot League poll, and with six All-Patriot League selections on the roster... Seniors Gerald Mistretta (WR), Sean Whited (OL), Jack Maliska (DL) and Tom Mannix (DB) each made the list after earning All-Patriot League honors last season, as did junior Michael Tucker (LB)...Junior placekicker John Macomber joined the group as a preseason All-Patriot League selection...The Crusaders do lose seven All-Patriot League selections from last year, including quarterback Ryan Taggart...Holy Cross has finished with a winning record in seven consecutive seasons, with six straight years over .500 in the Patriot League.
Lafayette The Leopards only bring back 10 starters from last year, with six on offense and four on defense... Lafayette has a pair of preseason All-Patriot League selections, with junior Mark Ross (WR) making the team on offense and senior Rick Lyster (DL) on defense...The offense has players back at the skill positions, with Andrew Shoop at quarterback after throwing for 2,024 yards and 15 touchdowns, Patriot League Rookie of the Year Ross Scheuerman returning at running back after
a freshman campaign with 499 rushing yards and Ross notching 49 catches for 703 yards and nine touchdowns...Three of the four defensive starters returning are on the line, with Tahir Basil and Jason Marshalek joining Lyster...Lafayette will begin its season on Sept. 8 at William & Mary, then play its home opener the next week when Penn comes to Fisher Stadium...Lafayette plays the first Patriot League game of the year when it visits Bucknell on Sept. 22 on CBS Sports Network.
Lehigh The No. 11/16 Mountain Hawks will be playing for history in 2012, as they try to become just the fourth Patriot League team to win three consecutive titles...Holy Cross (1989-91) won three straight outright crowns, a feat the Mountain Hawks will attempt to match this season...Lehigh also won four straight titles from 1998-01, but the 1999 crown was shared with Colgate... Lehigh enters the season with 14 consecutive wins against Patriot League opponents, just five off the all-time record set by Holy Cross from 1988-92...The Mountain Hawks have gone undefeated in League action in each of the last two seasons, and won a game in the NCAA Division I Football Championship both times... Lehigh advanced to the quarterfinals last season on its way to a top-five national ranking and the ECAC FCS Lambert Cup as the top team in the east...While the Mountain Hawks have enjoyed one of the most successful two-year runs in Patriot League history, they will be going for a three-peat without many of the key players during that stretch...Lehigh has to replace 11 starters, including quarterback Chris Lum who broke numerous Patriot League records and received regional and national honors during the 2011 season...Seven of Lehigh's 16 All-Patriot League selections return to the lineup in 2012, including Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year senior Ryan Spadola at wide receiver...The offense will also be led by returning All-League selections Zach Barket (RB), Jamel Haggins (TE) and Mike Vuono (OL), while Sajjad Chagani (DL), Bryan Andrews (DB) and Billy O'Brien (DB) are back on defense...All seven players have also been named preseason All-Patriot League selections...Lehigh heads on the road on Sept. 8 to play at Central Connecticut State, and plays its first Patriot League game on Sept. 29 at home against Fordham.