Oct. 18, 2014
Oct. 18, 2014
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Harvard’s big plays proved to be the difference as the No. 25/24 Crimson issued Lafayette at 24-14 loss on Saturday at Harvard Stadium. Both key plays for the hosts came in the first half, a 78-yard pass completion and a 43-yard run that saw Harvard lead 17-0 at halftime.
It was a tough day for the Leopards in the injury department as three starters were knocked from the game and did not return. Sophomore quarterback Drew Reed, who started the game after missing the last two with a shoulder injury, played the first two series before taking a shot on the shoulder while trying to run for a first down. The Leopards also lost All-Patriot League selections Luke Chiarolanzio (OT) and Steve Mercado (DT) to injury.
Reed (4-5-0 for 25 yards) gave way to classmate Blake Searfoss who had started the last two games. Searfoss completed 23-of-42 for 274 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Senior tailback Ross Scheuerman continued his stellar play, catching eight balls for 125 yards and a TD while rushing 20 times for 105 yards, his fourth 100-ard rushing game of the season.
On Harvard’s second drive of the game, the Crimson picked up a pair of fourth downs in the Lafayette half of the field, one on 4th-and-4 and the other on 4th-and-1. Lafayette’s defense held its ground and forced Harvard to settle for a 24-yard Andrew Flesher field goal despite having the ball 1st-and-goal at the six-yard line. Senior DE James Coscia, who finished the game with seven tackles, secured a sack on first down that helped slow the scoring drive.
In the second quarter, the Lafayette defense had the Crimson 3rd-and-20 at their own 22. Freshman CB Phillip Parham had interrupted a wide receiver screen on first down, but three plays later Harvard dialed up a similar call. This time, Parham couldn’t break free from his blocker and Scott Hosch completed the pass to Andrew Fischer for the 78-yard touchdown catch and run. Harvard led 10-0 with 6:26 left in the half.
The Leopards had their best scoring opportunity near the end of the half. Lafayette was deep inside Harvard territory after Searfoss’ scramble and 28-yard toss to Scheuerman who made tough, over-the-shoulder grab along the sideline. Lafayette had the ball 1st-and-10 at the Harvard 16. Scheuerman was tackled for an eight-yard loss on first down while looking downfield for a potential tailback option pass. Two incompletions followed and the Leopards’ Ryan Gralish attempted a 41-yard field goal that never got on track, missing wide right.
Harvard scored just before the half. Stanton ran through a hole in the middle of the defense, eluding the reach of Dennis Bencsko for a 43-yard touchdown. Harvard led 17-0 going into the locker room at the second-oldest football stadium in the nation.
In the second half, Harvard created more distance, taking advantage of good field position on its second drive when it started at the Lafayette 47 after a punt. On 2nd-and-19, Harvard TE Ben Braunecker beat Matt Smalley with a double move and collected a 31-yard touchdown pass from Hosch for the 24-0 margin at 9:31 in the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Darrell Crawford broke off a 58-yard return, but Asante Gibson knocked the ball away from the Leopards’ returner and Gibson recovered it for the Crimson. The Leopards returned the favor on defense, however, as Parham picked off a Hosch offering and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown, his first career pick-six and second interception of the season. Lafayette trailed 24-7 with 7:42 left in third quarter.
Near the end of the third quarter, a 54-yard throw from Searfoss to Scheuerman set up Lafayette 1st-and-10 at the 13. Lafayette picked up five more on first down before the drive stalled. Gralish set up for a 26-yard field goal that would have cut the margin to two scores, but missed wide right.
Lafayette continued to try and claw back into the game. Six minutes into the final quarter, the Leopards took over on offense. Scheuerman was responsible for the bulk of the drive, rushing for 25 yards on four carries before snagging a 20-yard pass from Searfoss for the score. Brian Keller’s 29-yard grab kept the drive moving near midfield before the score that made it 24-14 with 6:05 left in the game.
The Leopard defense continued its strong play, giving the offense two more opportunities by forcing three-and-outs on Harvard’s final two possessions. The Lafayette offense could not capitalize, advancing no farther than the Harvard 40-yard line on its final two drives.
Statistically, things were fairly even with 440 yards of total offense to Harvard’s 367 with similar numbers in time of possession 30:40 to 29:20 in slight favor for Lafayette. Both defenses had their way on third downs as the Lafayette offense converted five of 17 while Harvard converted three of 16. LB Mark Dodd had 10 tackles for the Leoaprds while Bencsko added eight with a tackle for loss.
Lafayette will host Holy Cross on Oct. 25, the Leopards’ senior day and Homecoming Weekend on College Hill. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.
NOTES: Scheuerman surpassed the 3000-yard mark in his rushing career with his 105-yard day. He now has 3,043 career rushing yards, passing Tom Costello ’91 (2,936 yards) on Saturday.