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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Football beats Monmouth to go 3-1, best start in a decade

Sophomore quarterback Dean DeNobile drops back to pass during the win against Monmouth. (Photo by Hannah Ally for GoLeopards)

The football team (3-1 overall) has continued its successful first half of the season, securing a 28-20 win over the Monmouth Hawks (1-3 overall) on Family Weekend at Fisher Stadium. A rainy, cold Saturday could not deter the Leopards who, with this win, move to two games over .500 for the first time in over a decade.

Offensively, the Leopards had their best performance so far this season, racking up 316 total yards and finding the end zone four times. Senior tight end Mason Gilbert wrote in an email that the strides made by the Lafayette offensive line have allowed the entire offense to improve.

The coaches put a huge emphasis on ‘blocking for each other’ this year,” Gilbert wrote. “Overall, just being able to run the ball on whoever we play has been a huge improvement from last year.”

On the other side of the ball, Lafayette’s defense held up against Monmouth’s run game, limiting the Hawks to only 59 yards on the ground. The pass rush was also the most dominant it’s been during the 2023 campaign, as the Leopard defensive line tallied seven sacks on the afternoon.

Junior defensive back and team captain Saiku White, who racked up nine total tackles, said that the defensive game plan was about “emphasizing the little things.”

“Our coaching staff always says that our games are won during the week in practice,” White said. “That’s what we can attribute our performance to.”

Monmouth scored the first points on Saturday on a 47-yard field goal seven minutes into the game.

Lafayette responded immediately as the offense strung together a 13-play, 75-yard drive that nearly lasted for the rest of the quarter. The Leopards cashed in on a nine-yard lob from sophomore quarterback Dean DeNobile to sophomore receiver Elijah Steward, taking an early 7-3 lead.

The Hawks then set up shop around midfield but quickly turned the ball over when senior linebacker Preston Forney ripped the ball away and White recovered the fumble, setting the Leopards’ offense up in Monmouth territory. DeNobile snuck in for a one-yard score 12 plays later, extending Lafayette’s lead to 11.

Monmouth converted another field goal as time expired in the second quarter, giving the Maroon and White a 14-6 lead at halftime.

On its first possession of the second half, Lafayette’s offense continued to dominate as DeNobile found Gilbert and senior receiver Griffin Rooney for big completions. Two plays after Rooney’s reception, DeNobile rushed for his second touchdown of the day. After trading touchdowns once more, Lafayette held a 28-14 advantage with 12 minutes left in the game.

Monmouth looked to make a late-game push, stringing together a 16-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a touchdown. The Hawks defense then forced a turnover on downs for the Leopards, giving them the ball back with under two minutes in a one-score game. The Leopard pass rush came up clutch, however, registering two sacks to help secure the victory.

DeNobile, who contributed all four scores, was named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts. He finished the afternoon with 110 passing yards, four touchdowns (two on the ground), 10-for-14 completions and 50 rushing yards.

With the win, the Leopards currently stand at 3-1, a record they haven’t had since 2012. Both White and Gilbert said that the season’s solid start has set the tone for the team heading into Patriot League play.

“It’s always great to be winning. Going into every week, we think about having a 0-0 mindset,” White said. “If we can go 1-0 every week, all of our goals will come to fruition.”

It’s given us a lot of confidence that we can play with anyone,” Gilbert wrote. “That said, league play brings a whole different level of intensity, and we need to be perfect every game in order to keep winning.”

The Leopards will wrap up their three-game home stand tomorrow as they officially begin Patriot League play against the Bucknell Bisons for Homecoming Weekend. 

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Dan Sullivan, Staff Sports Writer

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