Colgate and Lehigh set up Patriot League Football title showdown

Lehigh's Mike Colvin

Nov. 3, 2012

CENTER VALLEY, Pa.- The 2012 Patriot League football title will be decided on national television next week, as Colgate and Lehigh won on Saturday to make the showdown on CBS Sports Network a winner-take-all matchup for the League crown and automatic playoff berth.

The Raiders continued their unbelievable offensive roll by breaking school and Patriot League records for rushing yardage and total offense in a 65-41 win at home against Lafayette. Colgate improved to 6-3 on the season and 4-0 in the Patriot League with its fifth straight win, and has scored 47 points or more in each of the victories.

No. 6/8 Lehigh had a tougher time, but once again found a way to stay as the last remaining undefeated team in the Football Championship Subdivision. The Mountain Hawks rallied for a 36-35 win at Holy Cross, scoring the winning touchdown on a 33-yard pass from Mike Colvin to Ryan Spadola with two minutes to play. Lehigh improved to 9-0 on the season and 3-0 in the Patriot League, and has won 18 consecutive regular-season games and 18 in a row against Patriot League teams.

In other action, Bucknell rallied from a 21-7 halftime deficit to defeat Fordham 27-24.

It was a big day for offense throughout the Patriot League. Colgate set League records with 531 rushing yards and 755 yards of total offense. The rushing yardage mark was 47 yards above the previous League record, while the total offense record was 19 ahead of the mark established by Holy Cross in 1987. Colgate junior quarterback Gavin McCarney carried 19 times for 288 yards and three touchdowns, coming just three yards away from the Patriot League single-game record. Colgate senior running back Jordan McCord had 27 carries for 203 yards and four touchdowns to give the Raiders a pair of 200-yard rushers. Elsewhere, Lehigh senior wide receiver Ryan Spadola hauled in eight receptions for 202 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Holy Cross and Bucknell senior running back Tyler Smith had 29 carries for 179 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Fordham.

Colgate will visit Lehigh on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network for the 2012 Patriot League title. Next week's other action features Bucknell at Georgetown, Lafayette at Fordham and Holy Cross at Wagner in a non-League affair.

Recaps, box scores and a synopsis of each game is include below.

at Colgate 65, Lafayette 41
Box Score

HAMILTON, N.Y.- Colgate (6-3, 4-0 PL) broke numerous school and Patriot League records in its 65-41 win over Lafayette (5-4, 2-2 PL) on Saturday at Andy Kerr Stadium, but most importantly the Raiders put themselves in position to win the Patriot League title next week with another offensive showcase.

The Raiders set Patriot League records for rushing offense (531), shattering the old mark of 484, and total offense (755), breaking the mark of 736 that had held since 1987. Colgate also tied a Patriot League record, set twice before, with seven rushing touchdowns.

Gavin McCarney and Jordan McCord were at it again to lead the Raider attack. McCarney had the second-best rushing day in Patriot League history with 19 carries for 288 yards and three touchdowns, and also completed 13-of-17 passes for 224 yards and two scores to break the school record with 512 yards of total offense. McCord carried 27 times for 203 yards and four scores to make it the first time in school and Patriot League history that two rushers went over 200 yards in the same game.

Despite the offensive success for the Raiders, the game stayed fairly close throughout as Lafayette hung tough. McCarney threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Chris Looney and also ran for a four-yard score as Colgate took a 14-0 first-quarter lead, and extended it to 21-0 on McCord's four-yard touchdown run. From there the Lafayette offense was just as proficient as the teams traded touchdowns over the next five possessions. Lafayette's scores came on a 17-yard pass from Zach Zweizig to Mike Duncan, 25-yard run by Ross Scheuerman and four-yard run by Zweizig, while Colgate's additional touchdowns were a 13-yard run by McCarney and a two-yard run by McCord. The Raiders made it a 37-20 lead at halftime as they made a field goal as time expired in the first half.

Colgate took its biggest lead of the day on the first possession of the second half when McCord's 17-yard touchdown run made it a 44-20 score. Zweizig hit Brandon Hall for a 21-yard score to make it 44-26, but McCarney scampered 75 yards for a score on Colgate's first offensive play to pad the lead to 51-26. Lafayette closed the gap from there, with a 63-yard touchdown run by Vaughn Hebron and an interception setting up a 13-yard pass from Zweizig to Mark Ross that had the Leopards within 51-41 with 13:02 to play in the game. Colgate faced a third-down play as the Leopards tried to get even closer, but McCarney found Ryne Morrison for a 64-yard touchdown pass to make it 58-41 with 11:37 to go. Colgate added McCord's four-yard touchdown run later in the period and forced a pair of Lafayette turnovers in the fourth quarter to go on to the 65-41 win.

It was the fourth straight game and fifth time this season that both McCarney and McCord went over 100 yards on the ground. McCarney broke the school season record for rushing yardage by a quarterback with 1,010, and it was his school-record 12th straight game throwing a touchdown pass. The Raiders tied a school record with nine touchdowns rushing and passing, just one off the Patriot League mark set in Lehigh's 69-0 win over Georgetown in 2001. The 65-point total was also second in League history to that contest. Morrison had five catches for 124 yards and a touchdown in the game.

Lafayette did its part on offense in the shootout, rushing for 284 yards and gaining 542 yards overall. The teams combined for 815 rushing yards and 1,297 yards of total offense. Zweizig completed 15-of-24 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns, while both Scheuerman (142 yards, TD) and Hebron (119 yards, TD) went over 100 yards on the ground and averaged more than 10 yards per carry. Ross had seven receptions for 106 yards and a score for his fifth 100-yard receiving game in the last six contests. Shane Black led the Leopards with 16 tackles and an interception.

Colgate improved to 14-3 against Lafayette under Head Coach Dick Biddle, who was coaching his 100th Patriot League game. He improved to 76-24 in Patriot League contests.

No. 6/8 Lehigh 36, Holy Cross 35
Box Score

WORCESTER, Mass.- No. 6/8 Lehigh (9-0, 3-0 PL) continues to live dangerously, but also continues to win as the last undefeated team in the FCS rallied in the fourth quarter for a 36-35 win at Holy Cross (1-8, 1-3 PL) on Saturday at Fitton Field.

The victory set up a Patriot League title showdown at home against Colgate next Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. It extended Lehigh's FCS-best streaks to nine straight wins overall and 18 in a row in the regular season. The victory was also Lehigh's 18th straight against a Patriot League opponent, just one away from the League record set by Holy Cross from 1988-92.

Lehigh opened the scoring on its first offensive play, as a 74-yard punt return by Marcus Dormevil set up a two-yard touchdown run by Mike Colvin as the Mountain Hawks went up 6-0 just over a minute into the contest. Holy Cross bounced right back, with Steven Elder throwing an 11-yard touchdown pass to Gerald Mistretta on the next possession and later tossing an eight-yard TD strike to Mike Fess for a 14-6 lead early in the second quarter. Colvin ran in from 33 yards out as Lehigh closed to within 14-13 later in the period, and Jake Peery hit a short field goal in the final minute as the Mountain Hawks took a 16-14 lead at the half.

Lehigh took its biggest advantage early in the third quarter when Colvin threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Spadola for a 23-14 advantage. But again Holy Cross came right back, this time with three consecutive touchdowns to take a 35-23 lead. Ryan Laughlin threw a 17-yard strike to Mike Fess to trim Lehigh's lead to 23-21, and the Crusaders capitalized on a fumbled kickoff return to take a 28-23 lead on Reggie Woods' three-yard touchdown run. Laughlin threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Mistretta later in the period as the Crusaders took a 35-23 lead into the fourth quarter.

Colvin threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Zach Hayden to get Lehigh within 35-30 early in the period, but both defenses stiffened from there until the Mountain Hawks took over at their own 15 with 4:08 remaining. Colvin came up huge on the game-winning drive, completing 6-of-7 passes for 85 yards including a 33-yard scoring strike to Spadola for the 36-35 lead with two minutes to play. Holy Cross drove into field goal range in the final seconds, but John Macomber's 43-yard try was off the mark as the Mountain Hawks escaped yet again.

Lehigh won its fifth game this season by four points or less, and its fourth by three or less. Three of those four have come against Patriot League opponents, and each involved a last-second field goal that was either made or missed in the Mountain Hawks' favor. Colvin had an outstanding day with 24-of-34 passing for 362 yards and three touchdowns, and also ran for 59 yards and a pair of scores. Spadola made an impact in his return to the lineup after an illness as he caught eight passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Billy Boyko paced the Lehigh defense with 17 tackles.

Holy Cross had equally impressive numbers on offense, as the Crusaders outgained the Mountain Hawks 527-494 in the game. Laughlin completed 17-of-27 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns, while Elder completed 12-of-17 for 133 yards and two scores. Fess had 10 receptions for 90 yards and two touchdowns, while Mistretta had eight receptions for 104 yards and two scores. Woods ran for 139 yards and a touchdown. Erik Wachter had 10 tackles to lead the Holy Cross defense.

Lehigh beat Holy Cross for the third straight year, and for the second straight time the game was within a touchdown. While Lehigh improved to 5-0 in games decided by four points or less, Holy Cross fell to 0-4 in those contests with all of the losses coming at home as it gave up the winning score in the final minutes.

at Bucknell 27, Fordham 24  Box Score

LEWISBURG, Pa.- Bucknell (2-7) put an end to a seven-game losing skid by rallying from a 14-point halftime deficit for a 27-24 win over Fordham (5-4) on Saturday at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.

Tyler Smith keyed the comeback for the Bison, as he accounted for all three touchdowns by rushing 29 times for 179 yards and two scores and catching three passes for 29 yards and a touchdown.

Fordham got on the board first with a pair of field goals by Patrick Murray, who set the school and Patriot League single-season record with his first conversion. Bucknell took a 7-6 lead after Murray's second kick when Smith ran for a 76-yard score. The Rams took control in the second quarter, with Carlton Koonce running in from 14 and 15 yards out as Fordham built a 21-7 lead at the half.

The Bison got a field goal back early in the third quarter, then closed to 21-17 on Brandon Wesley's 26-yard touchdown pass to Smith later in the period. Smith put the Bison in front with a 14-yard touchdown run that made it 24-21 with 13:07 to play in the game, and Bucknell added a field goal to its lead four minutes later. Fordham got to within 27-24 on Murray's field goal with 6:10 to go, and got the ball back at its own 19 with 2:22 left with a chance to tie or win. The Rams got as far as the Bucknell 36, but a loss of 13 yards on a sack by Samuel Oyekoya stunted the drive and Joseph Francis picked off a fourth-down pass to seal the Bucknell win.

Smith, who has dealt with injuries in his senior season, recorded 208 all-purpose yards and three total touchdowns in the win. Wesley completed 10-of-22 passes for 100 yards and a score and ran for 35 yards. Evan Byers led the defense with 12 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss, while the Bison had four sacks and forced three turnovers in the game.

Koonce had 116 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Fordham offense, and also caught seven passes for 56 yards. Ryan Higgins completed 23-of-40 passes for 267 yards, but threw a pair of interceptions. Murray made all three of his field-goal attempts, giving him a school and Patriot League record 21 for the season as he continues to lead the FCS. Michael Martin led the defense with 12 tackles and a forced fumble, the fifth of the season for a player who came into the day tied for the FCS lead.

Bucknell beat the Rams for the second year in a row. The script was flipped for close games for the teams, as Fordham fell to 4-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less while the Bison improved to 2-3 in those contests.