Led by a suffocating defense and junior tailback Ross Scheuerman, the Lafayette Leopards (1-3 overall, 1-0 Patriot League) won their first game of the season by dominating an outmatched Bucknell squad (1-3, 0-1) by a final score of 31-7. The win snaps a seven-game losing streak that stretches back to October of last season.
Scheuerman had a career day for the home team, rushing 20 times for 188 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 69 yards and added a kick return for 23 yards for a grand total of 280 all-purpose yards. His two touchdown runs, of two and 78 yards, totaled Bucknell’s total net yardage on offense.
“Up front, we were executing,” Scheuerman said. “We had two weeks to prepare for these guys, we knew everything they were bringing at us.”
Lafayette’s defense allowed only six first downs and forced the Bison to punt a Patriot League-record 13 times as the Leopards outgained Bucknell 428-80. Lafayette jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead early in the second quarter and never looked back, the only Bucknell touchdown coming off of a muffed punt by Lafayette.
Quarterback Andrew Dzurick ‘16 had an up-and-down day in his first start under center, passing for 235 yards and the first two touchdowns of his career, but also throwing three interceptions. The sophomore started in place of usual signal caller Zach Zweizig ‘14, who was ruled out earlier this week due to a concussion suffered in the first half of last week’s loss to the University of Pennsylvania.
“I think Andrew found out that being the starter is different than coming off the bench,” Lafayette Head Coach Frank Tavani said. “He took a couple shots early, had the wind knocked out of him. He’ll go over the film tomorrow and he’ll see a number of things that he probably didn’t see [during the game]. But there’s a lot going on out there, I give him an awful lot of credit. He came back and kept battling, kept battling.”
Tyrus White led a Lafayette defense that tormented R.J. Nitti, the overwhelmed freshman quarterback for Bucknell. White had three sacks and a forced fumble on the day, and his defensive comrades Tyler Robinson ‘14 and Alex White ‘14 each added one to give the Leopards a season-high five quarterback takedowns on the day. Matt Smalley ‘17 picked off a pass in helping the Leopards hold the Bison to 20 yards per quarter.
“We came together as a defense,” Alex White said. “We played lights out. Defensive line we were stout, linebackers were filling gaps, defensive backs locked down today. We knew our backs were against the wall, we had to win this game. We had no other choice.”
It helped that they were facing a freshman quarterback who was making his first collegiate start.
If Zweizig is cleared by doctors to play this Saturday, Lafayette Head Coach Frank Tavani could have a quarterback controversy on his hands. Dzurick has led the Leopards to 45 points in six quarters as well as their only win this season, but he has also thrown five interceptions in that same stretch of time. Zweizig, on the other hand, faced tougher competition but also did not impress, throwing for a touchdown and four interceptions in two and a half games along with 260 passing yards per game .
Look for the quarterback decision to be announced by The Lafayette later this week, as the Leopards prep to begin a four-game road series in New Jersey next week against the Princeton Tigers.