Oct. 15, 2013
THE OPENING KICK
MATCH-UP: Looking for their second win of the season, the Leopards (1-4) take the first of two straight trips to Massachusetts to face No. 25 Harvard on Saturday. Lafayette’s second straight Ivy League test will pit it against a Crimson corps that is 4-0 and likely the top team in the Ancient Eight.
Lafayette is coming off a 42-26 loss at Princeton, while Harvard (4-0) went to Ithaca, N.Y. and beat Ivy foe Cornell 34-24.
SCHEUERMAN STEPPING FORWARD: Junior TB Ross Scheuerman has enjoyed two of the top rushing games of his career in his last two outings. Against Princeton, Scheuerman carried 22 times for 155 yards and three touchdowns. The week prior against Bucknell he rushed for a career-best 188 yards and two touchdowns, his first 100-plus yard game since Nov. 3, 2012. His 78-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter put away the game and was a career-long run, topping his previous best of 65 yards against Princeton in 2012. In a related note, Scheuerman has 517 all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving, returns) over the last two games.
RETURNING THE KICK: One strong suit for the Leopards has been the play of the kick return unit under Special Teams Coordinator Doug McFadden. The Leopards are currently ninth in the nation, returning the ball an average of 25.4 yards per kick. Sophomore corner Matt Smalley is fourth in the nation individually, averaging 32.4 yards per kick return. Smalley ran back the opening kick of the season 98 yards for a touchdown against Sacred Heart. Against Princeton, he handled one kick return for 36 yards.
Ross Scheuerman got into the action vs. Princeton with four kick returns for 85 yards, including a game-best 39-yard return.
OFFENSIVE OUTPUT: Lafayette has managed 400-plus total yards of offense each of the past two weeks. The Leopards had 235 passing yards and 193 yards on the ground against Bucknell (season-high total of 428) and followed with 243 passing yards and 158 rushing yards at Princeton (401 total).
ROSS AMONG BEST: Senior wide receiver Mark Ross continues his ascent up Lafayette’s career receiving charts. He ranks first in career receiving touchdowns (21), third in career receptions (158) and third for career receiving yards (2,195). Ross needs five catches and 212 yards to become the sole leader in both categories. John Weyrauch ’04 (162 catches for 2,406 yards) sits atop both lists. Ross is coming off a six-catch, 112-yard game at Princeton.
PACK THE BAGS: Lafayette is in the midst of a four-game road swing that began at Princeton and includes Harvard, Holy Cross and Georgetown. The last four-game road swing came in the 2011 (North Dakota State, Georgetown, Penn and Stony Brook.)
ABOUT HARVARD: Harvard comes into week five of its season unbeaten on the year (4-0) and is looking to start the season with five straight victories for the second consecutive year. The Crimson have wins over San Diego, Holy Cross and Ivy League foes, Brown and Cornell.
• Harvard returns 12 starters, (6 on offense, 6 on defense) from a team that was 8-2 overall and second in the Ivy in 2012.
• Junior QB Conner Hempel leads Harvard with 803 yards passing on 55-of-81 with seven touchdowns. He started the first three games before missing the Cornell game.
• Sophomore tailback Paul Stanton has excelled in his first year as the starter. Stanton has rushed for 330 yards on 59 attempts with six touchdowns including the game-winning score in triple overtime against Holy Cross.
• Senior TE Cameron Brake is one of the offensive leaders for the Crimson. Brake was a Sports Network All-America Second-Team selection and All-Ivy League First-Teamer in 2012. He has 14 catches for 228 yards with two touchdowns in 2013.
• The Harvard defense features junior DE Zach Hodges (6-3, 235), the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. Hodges leads the defensive unit in tackles-for-loss (6.5) and fumbles recovered (3) to go along with 2.5 sacks. Sophomore LB Eric Medes and senior DB D.J. Monroe lead the team with 28 stops apiece.
• Tim Murphy (Springfield ’78), who is in his 20th season as head coach, is Harvard’s all-time winningest coach. He has led the Crimson to six Ivy League championships.