Football puts away Fordham, now 2-2 in Patriot League play

The+Leopards+leaned+on+their+running+game+to+defeat+Fordham+for+their+second+conference+win+of+the+season.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Athletic+Communications%29

The Leopards leaned on their running game to defeat Fordham for their second conference win of the season. (Photo courtesy of Athletic Communications)

Matthew Post

The Leopard’s football team earned their second consecutive Patriot League win, defeating Fordham 21-13 last Saturday. After an 0-4 start, the Leopards have won three out of their last four games, climbing to .500 in conference play for an overall record of 3-5.

Due to ugly weather conditions that plagued the game, the Leopards opted to focus on their run game, with sophomore quarterback Sean O’Malley only attempting nine passes.

“When you have adverse conditions like that you have to change the way you play,” head coach John Garrett said. “You couldn’t throw effectively because of the wind so we knew we had to emphasize the run, we were able to scheme some formations and motions that got them out of whack, and then it really wasn’t about plays, it was about the execution.”

After a scoreless first quarter, the defense allowed the Rams to convert a crucial 4th-and-1 situation that prolonged their drive and ultimately lead to a touchdown. On the ensuring drive, sophomore running back Selwyn Simpson capped off a 75-yard drive with a 38 yard run to even the score, 7-7. After the defense forced a quick three and out, the Leopards began a drive at their own one-yard line.

However, on the second play, O’Malley fumbled the ball, setting Fordham up for an easy touchdown. Due to the unfavorable conditions, Fordham mishandled the snap and missed the extra point opportunity.

The two teams traded punts for nearly the remainder of the quarter until, with less than three minutes left, freshman defensive lineman Colin Hurlbrink recovered a Fordham fumble at midfield. With limited time, Lafayette fought for every yard, setting up senior running back CJ Amill for his first touchdown on a 31-yard run. With 40 seconds left in the quarter, freshman defensive end Malik Hamm recorded his second sack of the day to end the half.

At the half Lafayette had run the ball for 24 times, and would continue to pound the rock as the second half began.

“We prepare like were going to be running the ball 30-40 times,” senior full back Will Eisler said. “But especially on a day like this past Saturday, with wet and rainy conditions, we know we have to be locked into our run game.”

On their opening drive after the break, Lafayette would rush eight times in the course of five minutes before ultimately punting the ball away. The Leopards defense would force a 3-out, setting up a crucial Lafayette drive. The team took over at their own 45 yard line and, on their first play, Simpson ripped off a decisive 51 yard run that was stopped just short of the end zone. It would take Simpson two additional tries before he was able to rush it in and earn his second touchdown of the game.

The Simpson touchdown would be the last the score of the game, with the end turned into a defensive affair. Ultimately, both teams failed to put together any significant drive. Lafayette’s defense continued to dominate, culminating in Hamm’s third sack of the game with just under six minutes left in the game. Furthermore, the defense would register two takeaways, an interception apiece for junior defensive back Eric Mitchell and junior defensive lineman Keith Earle. Hamm’s three sack effort earned him the Patriot League Rookie of the Week Award.

“[Hamm’s] got a great combination of strength and athleticism,” Garrett said. “For his first sack he lined up on their on their left guard and made him whiff for a sack, then he went over to the center, and then he made him whiff. Sack. Then he went over to right tackle and made him whiff, for another sack. He’s hard to block for anyone.”

“[Hamm] just has an unique skill set to be able to rush the passer, and he’s got a great demeanor and approach, he’s so humble all he wants to do is get better, we’re really glad to have him on our team,” Garrett added.

Lafayette hosts Holy Cross tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. as they look to pick up their third consecutive Patriot League win.