Knoch's McTighe making mark at Lafayette
Jake McTighe entered his freshman year at Lafayette College competing for the starting fullback position.
Things didn't go his way in the beginning and soon he found himself in a struggle to see the field outside of special teams' play.
“I definitely was discouraged,” said McTighe, a Knoch graduate. “The other fullback had been starting the past four years, and I have a chance to start, but I didn't. It was frustrating.”
Turns out, all McTighe needed was a change of scenery — or, more like a change of perspective on the football field.
As a junior, he made the switch from fullback to defensive end, and he spent this regular season as a senior starter for the Leopards' defense.
His final season has been full of excitement and moments that are now etched in Lafayette history.
On Nov. 16, the Leopards upset previously unbeaten and then-No. 5 ranked Fordham, 27-14. It was the first time in school history that Lafayette beat a top-5 opponent. McTighe made his presence known, registering three tackles and a sack that resulted in a fumble that was recovered by Fordham.
A week later, Lafayette defeated No. 15 Lehigh, 50-28. The win secured the Leopards the Patriot League Championship and an automatic bid in the FCS playoffs.
Although Lafayette finished the regular season with a 5-6 record, it went 4-1 in the Patriot League and played Saturday at No. 15 New Hampshire in the first round.
The Patriot League title was Lafayette's first since 2006, and the playoff appearance was the fourth in school history.
“It feels good because the past three years we've been working so hard for it,” McTighe said about the conference title. “It's nice that I get another chance to go out and play again and play a sport I've dedicated my whole life to.”
McTighe finished the regular season with 27 tackles (4 1⁄2 for loss) and 2 1⁄2 sacks.
Knoch football coach Mike King not only coached McTighe but continued to root for him. Like McTighe, King also played at Lafayette.
He's kept in touch with McTighe throughout his collegiate career and even made the trip to the Fordham game.
“I tell you what, it was a real thrill,” King said. “I was there with my family and getting to see him play, and be happy there, it was a tremendous feeling. We know his family real well and they were out there. Fordham was undefeated and it was a big win.
“I had a fantastic experience when I was at Lafayette. It's not easy to go play football there and study. He's doing extremely well. It's really nice to see. It's something that makes you real proud as a coach.”
An economics major with a minor in architectural studies, McTighe plans to pursue a master's degree at an architectural school following graduation. First, he has designs on more school history.
D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.