Sept. 2, 2006
FAIRFIELD, CT - Lafayette senior quarterback Brad Maurer completed just two passes in the game but scored the go-ahead touchdown on an 11-yard run with :07 left in the third quarter, and then threw for a clinching score in the fourth quarter to lead the Leopards to a 25-14 win over Sacred Heart University in the opening game for both teams.
The Leopards took the game's opening kickoff and 62 yards on eight plays to take a 7-0 lead. Senior tailback Jonathan Hurt accounted for 39 of those yards, including a two-yard plunge for the TD. All eight plays on the drive were running plays.
SHU quarterback Tyler Arciaga (Bonita, CA) was sacked on the first play the Pioneers ran by Lafayette's Marvin Snipes and coughed up the football. Kyle Sprenkle recovered it for the Leopards to give them the ball at the SHU 29-yard line. Seven plays later Hurt ran the ball in again from two yards out for the second Leopard TD. The PAT kick failed but Lafayette had a 13-0 lead just over eight minutes into the game.
The Pioneers managed to pick up a first down on their next possession on a pass from Arciaga to Joey Henley, playing in his first game since breaking his ankle in the fourth game last season. The drive stalled after that, however, forcing a punt. The SHU defense stood tall its next time out and forced Lafayette into its first kick.
Starting at their own 31 at the start of the second quarter, the Pioneers used a 44-yard run by junior tailback Jason Payne to get to the Lafayette five. Two plays later, Arciaga hit senior A.J. Franklin (New Haven, CT) on a slant across the middle for four yards and a TD to pull the Pioneers with in 13-7 with 11:15 left in the half.
A quick three-and-out for the Leopards on their next possession gave SHU the ball back at their own 24 with 9:24 left. On third and eight, Arciaga hit Henley for just four yards but the Leopards were flagged for roughing the passer to give the Pioneers a first down.
On the next play, SHU was called for holding and pushed back to their own 35. Only able to game nine of those yards back, they were forced to kick. Punter Derek Marks (East Lyme, CT) got off a booming kick, but Anthony D'Urso was called for roughing the kicker, giving the Pioneers yet another life at the Lafayette 41. The Pioneers took advantage this time. On the first play after the penalty Payne broke through the line and ran 41 yards for the score and a 14-13 Pioneer lead they would carry into the intermission.
Sacred Heart took the opening kickoff of the second half and used 13 plays to drive to the Lafayette 19, where they stalled. Arciaga hit Henley twice on the drive, once for 13 yards and another for 17. SHU head coach Paul Gorham elected to try a 37-yard field goal on fourth and nine into a wind that was gusting to 30 mph. The try by sophomore kicker Joe Schroeder (Jackson, NJ) got caught in the wind and fell just short.
After the miss the Leopards went back to the ground attack and used 15 plays and 81 yards to go-ahead 19-14 on Maurer's 11-yard quarterback draw. Of the 15 plays in the drive, 14 of them were on the ground. Lafayette tried for the two-point conversion, but Maurer was tackled behind the line.
As the weather conditions deteriorated toward the end of the game, so did the Pioneer offense as they were unable to mount another serious threat. Faced with a fourth and a foot from his own 26 with 4:40 to play, Gorham elected to try for the first instead of punting. A running play to Payne was stopped behind the line of scrimmage by Lafayette's Sprenkle, giving the Leopards the ball at the SHU 22. Three plays later Maurer hit a wide open Shaun Adair for 21 yards and a touchdown to give them a 25-14 lead and put the game away.
Hurt finished with a game-high 141 yards rushing for Lafayette with a pair of scores. Payne led the Pioneers with 102.