The Daily Item
EASTON — Lafayette blanked Bucknell 27-0 on Saturday in the Bison’s Patriot League football season opener.
The Leopards (2-4, 1-1 PL) scored a rushing touchdown on each of their first three drives of the game, and limited the Bison (1-4, 0-1 PL) to just 169 yards of total offense, en route to a victory in the 99th meeting between the Pennsylvania programs.
In the second half, Micah Pettit added to his team’s lead by connecting on field goals from 45 and 49 yards out.
“Give Lafayette credit; they controlled the line of scrimmage, didn’t turn the ball over and kept us off balance offensively,” Bucknell coach Dave Cecchini said. “We never were able to get any big yardage plays on offense, and, with our youth, we’re not built to move the ball as productively without those types of plays.”
The Leopards jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their first drive of the game, which covered 72 yards in 12 plays and drained 7:30 off of the game clock. They converted on fourth-and-1s at their own 37 and at Bucknell’s 11 during that drive, which was completed by a 7-yard Joe Gillette touchdown run.
The Bison responded with a lengthy march of their own, which extended into the second quarter and took 8:26 off of the game clock. They advanced all the way to Lafayette’s 27-yard line, with Nick Semptimphelter completing two passes for 19 yards, and Coleman Bennett running for 18 yards on seven carries. Ultimately, Damon Washington came up with a sack on fourth-and-6 to stop the drive.
The Leopards then found the end zone again. The highlight of that quick scoring drive, which was capped by a 7-yard Selwyn Simpson touchdown run, was a diving 45-yard catch by Gillette that advanced Lafayette to Bucknell’s 22-yard line.
After forcing the Bison to go three and out on their next drive, the Leopards put together an eight-play, 68-yard scoring drive. During that drive, Michael Hayes ran for 26 yards on four carries, including a 5-yard touchdown run, and caught one pass for 11 yards.
At halftime, Lafayette had 236 offensive yards, compared to 79 for the Bison. The Leopards also went 3-for-3 on their trips to the red zone.
Pettit’s first field goal came at the third quarter’s 6:02 mark, finishing off a six-play, 32-yard drive highlighted by a 34-yard Gillette rumble. His second came with 3:51 remaining in regulation, completing an 11-play, 36-yard drive that began after Lafayette stopped Bucknell short of a first down on fourth-and-2 at its own 32-yard line.
“Moving forward, we have to take a long, hard look at ourselves and ask, ‘Where do we need to improve to get better as individuals and as a team?’” Cecchini said. “This is very important if we want to go into the Bronx and compete with a very good Fordham football team next week.”
For Bucknell, Semptimphelter completed 14 passes for 80 yards. Dominic Lyles caught five passes for 31 yards while Bennett ran for 40 yards on 15 carries.
For the Leopards, Ah-Shaun Davis completed 11 passes for 122 yards. In addition to scoring a touchdown, Simpson (74), Hayes (74) and Gillette (50) all ran for at least 50 yards. Gillette added 72 yards on three receptions.
Overall, the Leopards outgained the Bison 316-169.
The Bison continue their Patriot League road swing with a 1 p.m. game at Fordham next Saturday.
Lafayette 27, Bucknell 0
Bucknell (1-4) 0 0 0 0 — 0
Lafayette (2-4) 7 14 3 3 — 27
L-Joe Gillette 7 run (Micah Pettit kick)
L-Selwyn Simpson 7 run (Pettit kick)
L-Michael Hayes 5 (Pettit kick)
L-FG Pettit 45
L-FG Pettit 49
First downs 12 16
Rushes-yards 38-89 38-194
Passing 14-25-0 11-18-0
Passing yards 80 122
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-25 5-45
RUSHING — Bucknell: Coleman Bennett 15-40; Jared Cooper 8-28; Rushawn Baker 5-10; Michael Hardyway 1-6; Nick Semptimphelter 8-3, Danny Meuser 1-2. Lafayette: Selwyn Simpson 15-74, TD; Michael Hayes 11-74, TD; Joe Gillette 5-50, TD; Ah-Shaun Davis 5-(-1); TEAM 2-(-3).
PASSING — Bucknell: Semptimphelter 14-25-0, 80 yards. Lafayette: Davis 11-18-0, 122 yards.
RECEIVING — Bucknell: Dominic Lyles 5-31; Cooper 2-14; Bennett 2-9; Marques Owens 2-9; Damian Harris 1-7; Matt McCreight 1-6; Christian Spugnardi 1-2. Lafayette: Gillette 3-72; Julius Young 1-15; Mason Gilbert 3-14; Hayes 1-11; Joe Groves 1-6; Jordan Hull 1-4; Simpson 1-0.