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FCS East Wrapup: Controversy at Colgate

(Photo courtesy Fordham Athletics)

There were a lot of thrilling games this weekend around the world of FCS, but none more controversial or more important than the one in Hamilton, New York this past weekend. It was a game that few folks had on their radar screens since it featured an undefeated team at home facing off against a winless league rival. It ended up being a thriller.

  • From the official recap from Fordham Athletics: "The game ended on an odd play as Fordham senior QB John Skelton was sacked with under ten seconds left on the Colgate 28 and the Rams out of time outs. Fordham rushed to the line and appeared to have gotten the snap off in time but the players were confused. Some stopped playing, assuming the game was over while others started running the play. Skelton himself took a few steps back and stopped before rolling out to his right and finding junior WR David Moore in the end zone but there was no touchdown signal from the officials. The referee gathered with some of the other officials and, after a few minutes, signaled that the snap did not happen before the game ended." Many observers thought that Skelton did get the play off, and while the official report didn't talk about coach Masella ripping into the officials on the field after the game ended the Rams saw their upset bid come to an end in a 20-12 loss at Colgate.
  • It was definitely a bad-weather game - with three missed field goals, one missed extra point, one blocked extra point, and one extra point that ricocheted in off the goalpost - and a defensive game, with both teams combining for 21 tackles for loss in the game (is that some sort of record?). Senior LB Garrison Spence led a Colgate defense that terrorized Skelton - he had one of the Raiders' four sacks, while junior QB Greg Sullivan somehow spit and clawed to another incredible "Patriot League Player of the Week" sort of night: 109 yards rushing, 189 yards passing, and scored all three TDs. Sullivan leads FCS in rushing yards for quarterbacks, and his 4-0 Raiders greet undefeated local rival Cornell to Andy Kerr this weekend in the most unlikely of battle of unblemished teams. Winless Fordham will greet Old Dominion to Rose Hill this weekend and wonder what could have been.
  • That wasn't the only late-game drama involving a Patriot League School. Lafayette sophomore PK Davis Rodriguez put a rough (and tragic) beginning to the year behind him by booting a wet game-winning FG in overtime with a satisfying 20-17 overtime win over Penn. As if his early-season stuggles kicking weren't enough - against Liberty, he simply pushed a makeable field goal left, and he had missed five field goals up until that point, including a 37 yarder that would have iced the game - his buddy from high school reportedly had just died that week in a diving accident. But Rodriguez drilled the one that counted - and was the first score for Lafayette after senior QB Rob Curley exited the game with a concussion. Once Curley left, the Lafayette defense took over, holding Penn to only one first down the rest of the way, including overtime. Junior LB Michael Schmidlein, with his 16 tackles, won Patriot League defensive player of the week honors for their efforts. "That school from Easton" travels up to 1-1 Yale to soften them up before the Eli travel to Lehigh a couple weeks from now. (Last weekend, Yale lost 14-12 to undefeated Cornell on the strength of three Big Red interceptions.)
  • The team that visited Lafayette before Penn hosted James Madison this weekend in was determined to be the "FCS Game of the Week". The game, played in front of a packed house in a driving rain, was everything as advertised, and the Dukes' eventual 24-10 victory had a feel of a playoff game. Liberty head coach Danny Rocco was seen wearing a "Beat JMU" t-shirt, something that James Madison head coach Mickey Matthews used to great effect to pump up his team. "Just all the yapping about, you know, ‘They're ready to beat you. That's all they care about. They want to beat you all,'" senior DE Arthur Moats said. "That's all we kept hearing all week." Through two and a half quarters, it was a great contrast of styles: Matthews' attempt to bowl Liberty over, but a fired-up Flames squad keeping pace. Two big plays ended up being the difference in the game: in the second half, tied at 10, when backup sophomore RB Corwin Acker caught the left corner and was off to the races for a 65 yard TD run, and then the interception by junior FS Griff Yancey on the last-gasp Liberty drive that would essentially end the Flames' bid for the victory.
  • Speaking of the CAA, two more games made news in the fact that they there wasn't any news, much to the delight of the leadership of the CAA. No. 5 William & Mary's dominating 30-20 win over Delaware and No. 2 Villanova's 56-7 thrashing of hapless Northeastern sets up an all-CAA matchup between two nationally-ranked teams on Versus, a national cable sports channel: the best game of the year in this young 2009 season. It will be the first time that the Wildcats and Tribe have been on national TV during the regular season since 1987 and 1966 respectively.
  • You know what happened at Lehigh last weekend - Princeton had only six first downs but won. Similarly, Cornell beat Yale with only 166 yards of total offense. And Marist outgained Bucknell by 300 yards and held onto the ball for 40 minutes - and lost, 17-16. It was a wild ending: after sophomore DE Robert De La Rosa forced a fumble deep in Marist territory, Bucknell's go-ahead score would come a 3 yard sneak from senior QB Marcelo Trigg to take the lead. After Marist rode a huge kickoff return to a touchdown drive, junior DT Brian Tonge blocked the extra point, leaving the score 17-16. But that wasn't all: Marist would recover the onside kick, and aided by a roughing the passed penalty, would ultimately get a chance for a 28 yard game-winner - which was pushed wide right.
  • The 2-2 Bison will host next weekend the poor winless Georgetown Hoyas, who scored their first offensive touchdown last weekend but still failed to get in the win column with a 14-11 defeat to Howard in the second annual "D.C. Cup". (I still think they should call it the "D.C. Cab", and have a VCR tape of that Mr. T star vehicle bronzed as the trophy.) Freshman QB Isaiah Kempf did the honors with a 17 yard pass to sophomore WR Dishon Hughes for the score, and for good measure also passed for the 2-point conversion to make it a field-goal game. But the wet game at multi-sport field ended when Kempf threw an interception to Howard junior LB William Croner. Befitting this matchup of winless teams, all Howard had to do was run out the clock, but instead chose to run the ball - which was fumbled on the slick turf and recovered by Georgetown. But the refs blew the play dead instead - a call that was excoriated by the Georgetown radio crew.
  • Finally, under the lights on Friday in Cambrige, Harvard put their season-opening loss to Holy Cross behind them with a come-from-behind 24-21 win over Brown, avenging their only loss last season. Sophomore QB Collier Winters built off his solid performance versus the Crusaders with an efficient 18-for-27 performance against last year's Ivy League co-champions with 221 yard passing, 88 yards rushing, and a hand in all three touchdowns - and for the second straight week, no interceptions. He has left no doubt that he's "the man" for the Crimson - and Harvard looks like a team that could very well bag another Ivy League championship this year, too, except without the 'co-' in front of it.

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