Patriot League Football Release - 8.29.11

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Colgate senior running back Nate Eachus
PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG
Colgate senior running back Nate Eachus
PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG

Aug. 29, 2011

Patriot League Football Release - 8.29.11 Get Acrobat Reader

Center Valley, Pa. - While Patriot League play will not open until next week, the seven teams will each kick off their season over the weekend and many will get a look at a very tough opponent to start the 2011 campaign.

The season kicks off on Thursday as Holy Cross will host No. 25 Massachusetts at 8 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

The rest of the Patriot League teams open up on Saturday, beginning in the afternoon with Fordham at Connecticut on ESPN3 at 12 p.m. and No. 13/15 Lehigh traveling to Monmouth at 1 p.m. Three League squads host games at 6 p.m., with Colgate welcoming Albany, Bucknell taking on Duquesne and Georgetown facing Davidson. The night concludes with Lafayette heading to No. 11 North Dakota State at 7 p.m.

Defending Patriot League champion Lehigh was picked to win the trophy again in a preseason poll of coaches and sports information directors, just eding out Colgate. The teams also featured the individual award winners as Colgate senior running back Nate Eachus was named Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and Lehigh senior linebacker Mike Groome claimed the Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honor.

Fordham was not eligible for inclusion in the poll or preseason voting because it will not be able to compete for the Patriot League title for the second year in a row, and its games against League members will not count in the final standings for either team. The Rams began awarding athletic scholarships in the fall of 2010, which are imperissible in Patriot League football.

The Patriot League openers come next week, with Colgate at Holy Cross and Lafayette at Georgetown.

Patriot League Notebook

Six-Team Race for Patriot League Title
For the second 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.

Lehigh Opens in Top 15 of Both National Polls
Lehigh will set out to defend its Patriot League title and make it back to the FCS playoffs, but the Mountain Hawks will do it as a recognized team in 2011. Lehigh came in at No. 13 in The Sports Network/Fathead.com rankings and No. 15 in the FCS Coaches Poll to open the season. Lehigh finished the 2010 campaign at No. 14 in both rankings. The official national polls continued a long list of preseason accolades for the Mountain Hawks, who were ranked in the top 25 of four different preseason lists, placing as high as No. 12 in Lindy's. Colgate claimed the No. 23 spot in Lindy's.

Colgate's Eachus Claims Numerous Preseason Honors
Colgate running back Nate Eachus will enter his senior season as a marked man on the field after receiving multiple first-team All-America nods and a spot on the preseason Walter Payton Award watch list heading into the campaign. Eachus placed sixth in the Payton Award voting last year, making him the second-highest returning vote-getter. His first-team All-America accolades came from seven different outlets, including The Sports Network, Lindy's, Athlon, Sporting News, Phil Steele's, College Sporting News and Consensus Draft Services.

More Preseason Recognition for Patriot Leaguers
Eachus wasn't the only player to receive honors heading into the 2011 campaign. The Lehigh duo of senior linebacker Mike Groome and junior wide receiver Ryan Spadola were each named All-Americans by The Sports Network, Phil Steele's and College Sporting News, with Groome taking three second-team selections and Spadola named to a pair of third-teams and a fourth-team. They also joined Eachus as players ranked at the top 10 at their position by The Sports Network, and the trio was among a group of 17 Patriot Leaguers named to preseason position watch lists from College Football Performance Awards.

CBS Sports Network Headlines 2011 Television Schedule
Two of the most intriguing games of the Patriot League football season have been selected for national television coverage in 2011, as both the Massachusetts at Holy Cross matchup on Thursday at 8 p.m. and the Lehigh at Colgate game on Oct. 29 at Noon will be televised on CBS Sports Network. The Lehigh/Colgate contest precedes the Fordham at Army game at 3:30 p.m., giving the Patriot League three national appearances on CBS Sports Network. The national outings highlight a television schedule that currently includes 28 games, with regional coverage for Lafayette, Lehigh, Holy Cross, Colgate and Georgetown. The Leopards will televise all but their season opener at North Dakota State through Lafayette Sports Network, while the Mountain Hawks have television coverage for seven games in addition to the matchup with Colgate.

Tough Games on Season-Opening Slate
There will be no easy tune-ups for Patriot League teams on the first weekend of the 2011 season. A pair of teams will play ranked opponents as Holy Cross hosts No. 25 Massachusetts on Thursday at 8 p.m. on CBS Sports Network and Lafayette visits No. 11 North Dakota State on Saturday at 7 p.m. Fordham plays the first of two FBS opponents when it heads to Connecticut at 12 p.m. on Saturday. Regional bragging rights will also be at stake as three teams take on opponents from the Northeast Conference on Saturday. No. 13/15 Lehigh goes to Monmouth, while Colgate hosts Albany and Bucknell welcomes Duquesne.

APR Grade is A-OK
Patriot League schools once again excelled when the NCAA released its most recent Academic Progress Rate in May. Ninety-seven percent of League teams came in at or above the national Division I four-year average score of 970. In addition, over 65 percent of League teams tallied a score of 990 or better. Eighty-two teams from full-member institutions and 73 League-sponsored squads were awarded NCAA Public Recognition Awards for scoring in the top 10 percent of their sport's APR.

Welcome to Patriot League Football Central!
Developed to include links for both the Patriot League and its schools, the Patriot League Football Central page will serve as a one-stop location for all of the latest news, articles and multimedia coverage throughout the 2011 season. Check out the preseason and week one coverage by visiting the football page at www.patriotleague.org.

This Week in the Patriot League

Fordham Rams (0-0, 0-0) at Connecticut Huskies (0-0, 0-0 BIG EAST)
Rentschler Field; East Hartford, Conn.; Saturday, 12 p.m.

Series: Fordham, 1-0 TV: ESPN3
Streak: Fordham, One Win Last Meeting: Fordham, 35-0 (1915)

Fordham begins a very challenging non-League schedule with a trip to Connecticut on Saturday...The game will be streamed to a national audience on ESPN3...It is the second straight season that a Patriot League team will play at a BIG EAST opponent after Colgate fell at Syracuse last September...Fordham plays the first of two games against FBS opponents as the Rams will also visit Army on Oct. 29...Fordham's schedule also includes trips to Rhode Island and No. 24 Penn...Patriot League teams are 1-3 all-time against Connecticut, a former FCS member...Lehigh was the last team to face the Huskies in 2003.

Fordham The Rams have 63 letterwinners and 11 starters returning in 2011, with six starters back on offense and five on defense....With Blake Wayne moved from quarterback to wide receiver, Ryan Higgins has the inside track as the primary signal-caller...Darryl Whiting headlines a deep group of running backs, and three starters are back on the offensive line including senior center Jonathan Sheridan...Justin Yancey returns on the defensive line after a stellar freshman season, while Mike Martin and Nick Womack are back at the linebacking spots...The Rams had significant losses at both linebacker and defensive back from last year's squad...Patrick Murray handled both the punting and placekicking duties last season and returns for more action in 2011...For the second straight season, Fordham's games will not count in the Patriot League standings for either team and the Rams are ineligible for the League title and automatic playoff berth because the school permits athletic scholarhips in football.

No. 25 UMass Minutemen (0-0, 0-0 CAA) at Holy Cross Crusaders (0-0, 0-0)
Fitton Field; Worcester, Mass.; Thursday, 8 p.m.

Series: Massachusetts, 23-21-5 TV: CBS Sports Network
Streak: Massachusetts, Eight Wins Last Meeting: Massachusetts 31, Holy Cross 7 (9.11.2010)
Last Holy Cross Win: 22-20 (9.14.1991) Last Five Games: Massachusetts, 5-0

Holy Cross will try to win for the first time in 20 years against its in-state rival when the Crusaders host No. 25 Massachusetts under the lights at Fitton Field on Thursday at 8 p.m...It is the first night game in the history of the stadium and will be shown to a national television audience on CBS Sports Network...The Crusaders have dropped the last eight games against UMass, including a 31-7 loss on the road last season...The last matchup in Worcester was the closest of that stretch, as Massachusetts got by the Crusaders with a field goal in the final seconds for a 45-42 win in the 2008 season opener...Holy Cross' last victory over UMass was a 22-20 triumph on the road in 1991... The Crusaders are trying to win a third-straight season opener for the first time since 2000-02...Patriot League teams are 5-16-1 against the Minutemen, and have dropped the last six meetings since Colgate's victory in 2005.

Holy Cross Coming off their sixth consecutive winning season, and fifth-straight above .500 mark in the Patriot League, the Crusaders return 42 letterwinners and 12 starters from last year's squad...Ryan Taggart is back to man the quarterback position, with Kevin Watson and Mark Tolzien also experienced from last season...The running back position has depth as well with Sam Auffant, Eddie Houghton and Matt Bellomo...Tight end Alex Schneider comes off a strong season and three starters are back on the offensive line, including first-team All-Patriot League pick Mike McCabe...There will be changes at wide receiver, where the top three players from last year's team have moved on...Ricky Otis and C.J. Martin return at linebacker after each making more than 95 tackles a year ago, and Chandler Fenner and Cav Koch are back at the starting cornerback spots...The Crusaders take on a daunting non-League schedule that also includes games against Harvard and No. 10 New Hampshire...Next week they play a critical early Patriot League game when Colgate comes to town.

No. 13/15 Lehigh Mountain Hawks (0-0, 0-0) at Monmouth Hawks (0-0, 0-0 NEC)
Kessler Field; West Long Branch, N.J.; Saturday, 1 p.m.

Series: Lehigh, 2-0
Streak: Lehigh, Two Wins Last Meeting: Lehigh, 54-26 (9.3.2005)

No. 13/15 Lehigh opens its 2011 season with a trip to face Monmouth out of the Northeast Conference...The Mountain Hawks have won both all-time meetings between the schools, putting up big numbers each time with a 54-26 victory to open the 2005 season and a 56-10 win in 1999...Each of those games were played in Bethlehem as Lehigh makes its first trip to Monmouth...It is one of three games against Northeast Conference foes on Saturday... A win would give Lehigh consecutive victories in season openers for the first time under sixth-year Head Coach Andy Coen...Patriot League teams are 10-5 all-time against Monmouth, including Colgate's win in the season opener last season.

Lehigh Defending Patriot League champion Lehigh opens the season in the top 15 of both major polls, and was ranked in the top 20 by nearly every preseason media outlet....Senior linebacker Mike Groome and junior wide receiver Ryan Spadola garnered preseason All-America honors from multiple outlets, with Groome also named the Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year...Seven starters are back on offense with quarterback Chris Lum and wide receiver Jake Drwal joining Spadola along with three returning starters on the offensive line, though Will Rackley has moved on to the NFL...Groome is part of a strong returning front seven, with Andrew Knapp and Ben Flizack on the line and Colin Newton and Tanner Rivas joining Groome to form a quality linebacking core...The Mountain Hawks do, however, have to replace last year's entire starting defensive backfield...Lehigh will play a pair of ranked non-League opponents at home, facing No. 10 New Hampshire next Saturday and No. 22/18 Liberty on Sept. 24.

Albany Great Danes (0-0, 0-0 NEC) at Colgate Raiders (0-0, 0-0)
Andy Kerr Stadium; Hamilton, N.Y.; Saturday, 6 p.m.

Series: Colgate, 1-0
Streak: Colgate, One Win Last Meeting: Colgate, 13-11 (9.1.2007)

Colgate opens its season at home against an opponent from the Northeast Conference for the fourth time in the past five years when Albany comes to Andy Kerr Stadium on Saturday evening...It has produced favorable results for the Raiders who won their opener against Monmouth in each of the past two seasons after beating Albany, 13-11, to open the 2007 campaign...That was the only prior meeting between the schools...The Raiders have won three of the past four season openers after winning the first contest just twice in Head Coach Dick Biddle's first 11 seasons...A victory would give Colgate wins in three straight season openers for the first time 1982-84...Patriot League teams are 5-4 all-time against Albany, and no League squad has faced the Great Danes since Fordham in 2007.

Colgate Senior running back Nate Eachus enters the 2011 season with a laundry list of accolades...The preseason Walter Payton Award candidate has been named a first-team All-American by every FCS outlet, as well as the Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year after winning the award following the 2010 campaign...He is one of six returning starters on offense, where a new signal-caller will take over after three-year starter Greg Sullivan departed...Steve Rizzo has the most experience coming into the season...The wide receivers are stepping into the limelight as well, but Colgate will have the benefit of four starters including All-Patriot League picks Vittorio Ottanelli and James Germano returning on the offensive line...The defense features three starters returning at linebacker, including All-Patriot League selection Chris DiMassa...The line will see some new faces with both defensive ends gone, including Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year Zach Smith...Kenny McKenzie and Chad Frey are back in the secondary as seven starters from last year's defense return...The Raiders will have no time to ease into the season as they play a big early Patriot League contest at Holy Cross on Sept. 10.

Davidson Wildcats (0-0, 0-0 Pioneer) at Georgetown Hoyas (0-0, 0-0)
Multi-Sport Field; Washington, D.C.; Saturday, 6 p.m.

Series: Georgetown, 5-3
Streak: Georgetown, One Win Last Meeting: Georgetown, 20-10 (9.4.2010)
Last Davidson Win: 10-3 (11.12.2005) Last Five Games: Georgetown, 4-1

Georgetown opens its season against Davidson for the second year in a row, and hopes for the same success against the Wildcats after winning 20-10 on the road to open the 2010 campaign...Georgetown won four consecutive meetings against Davidson from 2001-04, but did fall at home in 2005...The first seven meetings were played from 1999-2005 before the series started again last year... The Hoyas are trying to win consecutive season openers for the first time since 2004-05...Georgetown is the only Patriot League team to play a non-League matchup against former League member Davidson, and the Hoyas have a 5-1 mark against the Wildcats during their Patriot League tenure.

Georgetown The Hoyas will try to take another step forward in the Patriot League with 13 starters back, six on offense and seven on defense...Scott Darby and Isaiah Kempf each have experience at quarterback, with Darby emerging as the starter last season...Despite the loss of Phillip Oladeji and Keerome Lawrence, there are players back with experience at both running back and wide receiver...Only Don Rhodes and Fino Caliguire are back as starters on the offensive line...The defense features a handful of familiar names, including standout defensive end Andrew Schaetzke...A pair of starters are back at linebacker, and the defensive backfield should be a strength of the team with Jayah Kaisamba, Jeremy Moore, Wayne Heimuli and David Quintero all returning as starters after leading a defense that picked off 18 passes in 2010...Georgetown will play its first two games at home, with a critical test next week when Lafayette comes to town.

Duquesne Dukes (0-0, 0-0 NEC) at Bucknell Bison (0-0, 0-0)
Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium; Lewisburg, Pa.; Saturday, 6 p.m.

Series: Bucknell, 9-5
Streak: Duquesne, Two Wins Last Meeting: Duquesne, 17-13 (9.4.2010)
Last Bucknell Win: 48-42 (9.6.2008) Last Five Games: Bucknell, 3-2

For the sixth straight year, Bucknell will open its season against Duquesne when the Bison welcome the Dukes to Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium on Saturday evening...The Dukes have won the past two games against the Bison, which were each played in Pittsburgh, by scores of 24-19 (2009) and 17-13 (2010)...Bucknell opened its season with an exciting 48-42 win at home against Duquesne in 2008, capping a stretch of three straight years with a season-opening win over the Dukes...The matchup has been decided by nine points or less in each of the past five seasons, with four of those by six points or fewer... Patriot League teams are 11-10 all-time against Duquesne.

Bucknell In its second season under Head Coach Joe Susan, Bucknell remains young but features a core of sophomores and juniors that gained experience on offense last season....Quarterback Brandon Wesley, the Patriot League Rookie of the Year, and wide receiver Victor Walker come off solid freshman campaigns, while junior running back Tyler Smith, sophomore fullback Travis Friend and junior tight end Nick Gatto also return on offense...They will all work behind a veteran offensive line with four senior starters returning...Six starters are back on defense, including standout seniors Josh Eden and Robert De La Rosa on the line...A pair of starters also return at linebacker and in the defensive backfield...Bucknell plays four non-League contests to open the season, with a visit from Marist next Saturday.

Lafayette Leopards (0-0, 0-0) at No. 11 North Dakota State Bison (0-0, 0-0 MVFC)
Fargodome; Fargo, N.D.; Saturday, 7 p.m.

Series: First Meeting

Lafayette becomes the first Patriot League team to ever face North Dakota State when the Leopards head out to Fargo for Saturday evening's clash with the No. 11 Bison... The 1,400 mile trip will be the farthest west the Leopards have ever traveled for a game...It is a rare contest between the Patriot League and Missouri Valley Football Conference, though there is recent history between the leagues after Lehigh won at MVFC champion Northern Iowa in the first round of last year's NCAA Division I Football Championship on Nov. 27...It is the first of two games scheduled against ranked non-League opponents for the Leopards, who also travel to No. 24 Penn on Sept. 17.

Lafayette The Leopards will try to rebound from a rare losing season with 16 starters and 37 letterwinners back in 2011...Lafayette will have plenty of familiar faces at the skill positions on offense, led by quarterback Ryan O'Neil who completed 67 percent of his passes last season...The running back stable includes Jerome Rudolph, Alan Elder and Pat Mputu, with Mitchell Bennett, Kyle Hayes and Greg Stripe at wide receiver and Kevin Doty at tight end...All-Patriot League selections Scott Biel and Anthony Buffolino are two of three returning starters on the offensive line...Mike Grimaldi has the most experience on a defensive line that loses Doug Gerowski and Mike Phillips, while Ben Eaton headlines the group of returning linebackers with Michael Schmidlein departed...All four starters return in the secondary, including All-Patriot League pick Brandon Ellis and top returning tackler Kyle Simmons. The journey out to North Dakota State is the first of four road games to open the season for Lafayette, which visits Georgetown in the Patriot League opener next week before traveling to No. 24 Penn and Stony Brook.

This Day in Patriot League History

Note: As part of the Patriot League's continued coverage of the 25th Anniversary football season, each week's release will include a "This Day in Patriot League History" segment chronicling that week's events in League annals. The full list of This Day in Patriot League History content will be included on the League's Football 25th Anniversary page, which also features coverage for the 25th Anniversary Team and additional content throughout the season.

Aug. 29 - Sept. 4

September 1, 2001 Georgetown plays its first Patriot League game, a 41-14 loss to Lehigh. Two days later, Georgetown earns its first player of week award as Craig Agnello, a wide receiver, is named Rookie of the Week.

September 2, 2006 Lehigh's Andy Coen, Fordham's Tom Masella and Georgetown's Kevin Kelly each debut at their school. While all three head coaches lost their opener, they each enter their sixth season at the helm in 2011.

September 2, 2007 Colgate, Fordham, Lafayette and Bucknell all post victories as Patriot League teams open the season with a 4-2 mark.

September 3, 2005 Georgetown and Bucknell go to overtime in their Patriot League opener, with the Hoyas emerging with a 19-16 victory on the road.