Nov. 7, 2009

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Courtesy of Lafayette

EASTON, Pa. - Senior QB Rob Curley threw for a school-record seven touchdowns as No. 24/25 Lafayette beat No. 20/18 Colgate 56-49 on Senior Day at Fisher Stadium. The Leopards improve to 8-1 overall and a perfect 4-0 in the Patriot League, setting the stage for a Patriot League title showdown with Holy Cross (8-1, 4-0) next Saturday in Worcester, Mass.

Curley finished the day 18-of-31 for a career-best 373 yards and seven TDs. He now shares the Patriot League single-game touchdown mark with Holy Cross' Jeff Wiley (9/26/87 vs. Lehigh).

The two teams combined for 105 points and 1,033 total yards with Lafayette's offense primarily through the pass (373) and Colgate's on the ground (279).

The first two drives of the game provided a preview for what was to come. Colgate (8-2, 3-2) covered 64 yards on eight plays over 3:13 and scored on a Greg Sullivan to Pat Simonds for an over-the-shoulder touchdown catch. TB Nate Eachus had 33 yards on the drive and finished with 45 carries for 216 yards and five touchdowns for the day.

Lafayette started at Colgate's 45-yard line following a 48-yard kick return by Jerome Rudolph. The Leopards scored on their first play from scrimmage, a 45-yard pass from Curley to Michael Bolton to knot the game at 7-7.

The Leopards took advantage of a Colgate fumble late in the first quarter. Ian Dell recovered Sullivan's miscue at the Colgate 14. It took three plays and 46 seconds for Lafayette to take the lead when Curley found Mark Layton for an 11-yard TD pass and a 14-7 lead.

The start of the second quarter signaled another efficient Lafayette drive, one that included a 13-yard pass to Layton and a 45-yard slashing run by Jerome Rudolph. For the first time in the game, the Leopards failed to find the endzone but Davis Rodriguez kept the scoring streak going by nailing a 33-yard field goal as Lafayette led 17-7.

On Colgate's ensuing possession, Eachus slid past the Lafayette defense when he broke through for a 43-yard scoring run to once again make it a one possession game. The Raiders then took the lead after picking off Curley at the Colgate 36. Eachus carried six times on the resulting drive, the final carry a one-yard scamper to give Colgate a 21-17 lead with 5:49 left in the half.

The Leopards' offense could not be slowed, taking just a minute to score on its next drive. Curley connected with Mitchell Bennett on the drive, but it was Curley's 23-yard completion to Nathan Padia that gave Lafayette a 24-21 advantage, Padia's first career TD. The Leopards tacked on a 34-yard field goal at the end of the half to lead 27-21, a lead they would not relinquish.

Early in the second half, Lafayette and Colgate traded scores. Curley hit Rudolph for a 35-yard catch and run. Rudolph finished with 247 all-purpose yards. Colgate's steady diet of Eachus on the ground with a smattering of Sullivan on the ground and in the air continued. The Raiders cut the lead to 34-28 with a 12-yard TD run by Eachus with 4:24 left in the third.

DeAndre' Morrow made his presence known on the next drive, ripping off a 25-yard run on first down. Curley's 50-yard TD pass to a wide-open Jeff Cumming and two-point conversion toss to Layton gave Lafayette a 42-28 advantage with three minutes left in the third.

Colgate answered just before the end of the quarter on a five-yard rush by Eachus, cutting Lafayette's lead to 42-35. The Raiders forced Lafayette to punt on their first possession of the fourth quarter and tied the game with an 8-play, 83-yard drive that was spurred by a 31-yard pass from Sullivan to Simonds and capped by a 32-yard pass from Sullivan to Gigi Cadet.

The play of the game came on the Leopards' next drive. After a 30-yard pass from Curley to Bennett early in the drive, Lafayette found itself 2nd-and-10 at the Colgate 22. Curley's pass was intercepted by Uzi Idah at the 10, but Layton stripped the ball from him after the pick and Bolton recovered at the 12, setting Lafayette up with the ball and a new set of downs. Curley looked back across the field and found a wide-open Bolton for a nine-yard TD and a 49-42 lead.

The Lafayette defense slowed Colgate on its next drive, forcing a punt with five and a half minutes left in the game. After a three-yard shank by Colgate, Lafayette took over at the Raiders' 38-yard line. The Leopards converted a 3rd-and-11 situation on a 13-yard pass from Curley to Layton. Morrow later added a 19-yard run, but it was a five-yard toss from Curley to Layton to give Lafayette the 56-42 advantage.

The Raiders added a late score, again by Eachus, to pull within 56-49. Colgate's onsides kick attempt was unsuccessful and Lafayette improved to 8-1 for the first time since 1899 and the best start since 1940 when Lafayette went 9-0.

Lafayette travels to Holy Cross on Nov. 14 for a 12:30 p.m. kick-off in a game that will decide the Patriot League championship.

It was the first win at home over Colgate since the 1995 season.

It was the Leopards' first win over a ranked team this season and the first sicne 10/18/08 over No. 14/15 Liberty.

Eachus' 216 yards on the ground marked the first 200-yard rushing performance by an opponent since Richmond's David Freeman ran for 201 on Sept. 25, 2004. Lafayette also won that game, 21-16.

Saturday was the first time since Nov. 14, 2004 that the Leopards have scored 50+ points. The last tiem Colgate surrendered 50+ in a conference game was in 2005 against Lehigh.