By Greg Stevenson
The football team rebounded from a three-game losing streak this past weekend by defeating the Lafayette Leopards 39-13 amidst an unseasonable blizzard on the road in Easton, Pa. The snowy victory was the Orange and Blue’s first win over Lafayette in over a decade and gives the Bison a winning record at 5-4.
Defensively, the Bison continued gaining turnovers. The Orange and Blue added to their national lead in both turnovers gained and turnover margin with seven against Lafayette, including four recovered fumbles. Bryce Robertson ’12 added two more interceptions to his season total, leaving him with 10 to lead the nation.
“We practice turnovers every day,” head coach Joe Susan said. “Our players work hard to create them. Interceptions are created by great coverage and great pressure.”
On offense, the weather severely affected the play calling.
“Our coaching staff always emphasizes that we cannot impact the things we cannot control,” Susan said. “Weather is one of them, so we work to keep our players from being concerned about it. We knew that the passing game would be impacted the most and we adapted our play calling with that in mind.”
With a limited passing game, the rushing game stepped up and carried the offensive load. Leading the way was Tyler Smith ’13, who registered an historical performance for the Bison en route to the win.
An unbalanced offensive game plan yielded 42 carries for the running-back, one short of the all-time Orange and Blue record. His 212 yards rushing was the highest total for a Bison rusher since 2005.
“Lafayette did a lot of things and brought many exotic blitzes, so it took great communication and awareness up front to move the ball efficiently and diagnose their blitz schemes,” Smith said.
“The offensive line did a great job beating the blitz and creating running lanes throughout the game,” he said. “Travis Friend [’14] also played a huge role in our running game. His lead blocks allowed me to get into the open field and make plays.”
Although the Leopards reached the end zone first early in the first quarter, the Orange and Blue scored 25 consecutive points over two and a half quarters to take a 19-point advantage early in the fourth quarter.
Among those scores was a receiving touchdown from Josh Eden ’12, a defensive player converted to receiver for one play, and an interception return from Sean Rafferty ’12. Smith also added two fourth-quarter scores.
The Bison now head into their lone bye week of the season with two conference games remaining in 2011, next week against Fordham and the following weekend versus Colgate. A win in one of the last two games would ensure that the Bison would finish the season with a winning record for the first time since 2006.
“In this bye week, we will have ample time to prepare for Fordham,” Susan said. “We will practice this week with an emphasis on improvement fundamentally and development of our younger players.”