Football shows signs of life during loss to 15th ranked William & Mary


Sophomore lineman Ryder Langsdale gestures “touchdown” as the Leopards celebrate Ryan Schuster’s successful QB sneak into the end zone. (Photo by Rick Smith for GoLeopards)

In a tough matchup that featured quick spurts of promise for the Maroon and White, the Lafayette football team (1-2 overall) fell to 15th ranked William & Mary Tribe 34-7.

The Leopards were looking for some redemption on Family Weekend after last year’s matchup against the Tribe, when they lost on two pick-sixes despite the defense giving up only three points.

“We were close to getting these guys last year and they are ranked in the top 15th this year, so of course, there’s a bit of extra motivation. It sucks that [we] couldn’t get the job done,” senior linebacker and captain Marco Olivas, who led the team in tackles on Sunday, said.

The game started out fast, with the Tribe’s offense moving right down the field as the vaunted Leopard front eight – with four All-Patriot League selections on it – struggled to get any push on the William & Mary offensive line. The drive was capped off by a 24-yard touchdown pass to Tribe receiver and Cam Newton’s younger brother Caylin Newton to put the Green and Gold up 7-0.

However, the Leopards quickly responded as they put together a quick drive through the air, playing fast with long completions to senior receivers Joe Gillette and Julius Young to get them down to the one-yard line. Freshman Ryan Schuster then ran a QB sneak to tie the game up on the Leopards’ longest scoring drive of the year.

“It’s good to see how Ryan has been progressing as a young quarterback. He’s finally starting to gain some rhythm and confidence, and hopefully he can keep coming up from now.” Olivas said.

From there, the defenses locked in. Although the Maroon and White were unable to score for the rest of the quarter, the Leopards had a big stop early as Olivas and defensive linemen junior Adam Port stuffed the Tribe on a fourth down attempt on Lafayette’s 26-yard line. William & Mary was able to drive down the field towards the end of the quarter and punch it in to make the score 14-7.

However, the Leopards were dealt a huge blow as senior center John Olmstead went down at the very end of the quarter and was carted off the field. Olmstead, a former four-star transfer from Notre Dame University, has been a leader on campus since arriving here in 2020. He was named one of eight spring ball captains this past off-season.

“[Olmstead] has been a leader and a vet, with some experience. He’s always been the guy who brought everyone on the line together.” Olivas said. “It sucks to see that injury happen to one of our guys, especially someone who has been a leader on that offensive line.”

Lafayette’s defense kept it close through the second quarter, only allowing a field goal with five minutes left. However, without their star lineman, the offense really struggled until the last four minutes of the half.

In that time, the Leopards drove all the way down the field and scored on a play that ended up coming back due to a penalty. The drive stalled after junior kicker Jakob Trestik could not make a 38-yard kick as time expired. The half concluded 17-7.

It was more of the same in the second half as the Leopard defense tried their best to hold the Tribe, who continued to have success on both sides of the ball. They scored with seven minutes left in the third and tacked on a field goal at the end to make it 27-7 with one quarter to go.

“Saturday sucked. Saturday was a big struggle in all aspects, we didn’t play how we were supposed to, and the results showed that,” Olivas said. “We need to be better, need to hold ourselves accountable and to a higher standard. We need to be ready to put the effort in to do that.”

William & Mary closed out the game with one last garbage-time touchdown, bringing the final score to 34-7. While the Leopards haven’t had much luck so far in the past two games, these non-league games have been against tough competitors.

“We’ve played some good teams, and it gives us some motivation to get everything to click together and be on at the same time,” Olivas said. “Our perseverance comes from us trying to let go of the weakness and get better every week.”

The Leopards will now hit the road for the second time this season as they take on the Penn Quakers at Franklin Field tomorrow. Kickoff will be at 1 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN plus.