Lafayette battles back to top Mexico
By Ross Martin St. Joseph News-Press
A botched snap put Lafayette into trouble. A second keyed the pivotal play to turnaround Friday’s season opener at Alumni Stadium.
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A missed extra point briefly kept the Fighting Irish behind, but a second touchdown strike right before halftime to junior Terry Ford put them ahead for good on the way to a 26-7 nonconference victory against the Bulldogs. Lafayette wallowed in futility for much of the first half, but Ford’s first scoring grab on a fourth-down play made sure Lehman’s lone grab became a turning point.
“I think that was where the momentum changed right there,” said Ford, who finished with five catches for 155 yards. “That was the play we needed to get to where we needed to be.”
Lafayette (1-0) manufactured many of its own problems. The Irish players might see the referee’s hand signal for an illegal procedure penalty in their dreams.
There were 14 penalties assessed against Lafayette — 8 procedure infractions — and the line gave up five sacks, most a product of botched shotgun snap exchanges between junior center Joe Freeman and Cortez. The Irish yielded 138 rushing yards to Mexico’s lead back, Jamel Taylor and didn’t lead until 44 seconds remained in the first half.
Three plays after Mexico produced its lone touchdown off an untimely Fighting Irish fumble, quarterback Drew Cortez tracked down another errant shotgun exchange and spun out of trouble. He found tight end Cole Lehman in the flat, and the burly sophomore turned it into a 32-yard gain. The fire-drill big play led to Lafayette’s first touchdown.
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