Lafayette wins early battle of St. Joe

By Phil Ervin The St. Joseph News Press
Posted: September 8, 2012 - 1:56 AM

Foster Brown hurled all of his 309 pounds directly into Dontae White’s midsection, steamrolling Benton’s heralded running back into the Alumni Stadium grass.

Brown’s message: this is not your night.

Lafayette’s stubborn defense punished upset-minded Benton all evening, and a balanced Fighting Irish attack followed suit in a 34-7 victory. With bruising defensive line play and some fresh offensive looks, the Fighting Irish claimed victory over their city archrival for a fifth straight year.

Being played outside of the regular-season finale for the first time since 2001, the series’ latest installment contained a different feel.

But the same old Irish walked off the field with their helmets lifted high once again, while one of the locals blasted fireworks from a nearby front yard. Lafayette’s current streak matches Benton’s run from 2003-2007 in the rivalry series.

“We put one on the board again,” Lafayette running back Antwon Leonard said. “That’s the statement.”

Leonard moved from wing back to fullback and trotted for three touchdowns, and quarterback Drew Cortez hooked up with Cody Massey for two more scores in an all-out dominant performance.

Lafayette (3-0) eclipsed the largest margin of victory in its five-game winning streak against the Cardinals. This year’s outcome stood in stark contrast to the drama of last season’s 46-40 Irish win.

“I’m pretty proud of everybody; we brought some pretty good intensity to it,” Irish coach Paul Woolard said. “They didn’t want to be the first (group) to lose to Benton in a while. They kind of took up that mantle.”

Leonard, a senior making his third start after transferring from St. Louis last year, kept the dramatics to a minimum early in both halves. His 8-yard touchdown runs on Lafayette’s first two possessions provided a 12-0 lead, and he raced 54 yards up the middle on the second half’s initial snap for his team-leading fifth touchdown of the season. For the rest of the story click here.