Heartbreak in Fairfield

Heartbreak+in+Fairfield

Drew Friedman

Photo by Athletic Communications

There’s often a point in a football game where a single play can change the outcome. When that play comes up late in the game, it’s the difference between a euphoric win and a heartbreaking loss.

Last Saturday at Sacred Heart, the visiting Lafayette Leopards got the short end of that stick.

With 1:50 left in the game, Lafayette had a shot at an unlikely victory. The Pioneers were only up by six points, and the Maroon and White defense had forced Sacred Heart into a third-and-13 situation at the home team’s 42-yard line. Lafayette was only one down away from a Pioneer punt and an opportunity for the offense to redeem itself.

Unfortunately, Sacred Heart completed a 57-yard pass that put them on the one-yard line and burst Lafayette’s dream of a storybook finish. On the next play, Pioneer quarterback R.J. Noel ran the ball in for his second rushing score of the game.

“It was a difficult evening,” Head Coach Frank Tavani said. “I thought the communication was terrific [on defense], we were lined up correctly even though we didn’t execute everything.

“We only really let up one play in the second half and it was the play that made the difference in the game,” he continued. “We still had a chance to win the football game with three plus minutes to go and they made a huge play.”

However, the Leopards didn’t lose the game on that one play. The offense did not show the same poise that they had last season. Quarterback Drew Reed had only 131 yards on 19-39 passing to go along with a touchdown and three interceptions. Reed’s performance may have been due either to first game jitters or the fact that he was missing his top two wide receivers from last year, Mark Ross and Brandon Hall.

“They made a couple great defensive plays on the ball. We also thought some of the balls should have been caught,” Tavani said. “Drew was getting knocked around, he missed some people, and there was a play in the second half where Dixon [Demetrius] turned the wrong way.”

As Tavani stated, there were plays in the second half that could have been tightened up, but the squad lost the game in the first half, when Sacred Heart went up 20-7.

“At halftime we were worried about getting reenergized and refocused…I think that a few guys on the defense were happy about it because they could rest their legs for a little while,” junior Mark Dodd said. “There’s always going to be a learning curve but I think that we’re solid; it’s just about executing our scheme on the field.”

Dodd and Lafayette had a few mishaps. But with a new coach, a new scheme, and only one game into their season, that was expected.