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Knoch grad McTighe helps Lafayette football make history

| Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, 12:11 a.m.
Lafayette defensive end Jake McTighe is a Knoch graduate.
Lafayette defensive end Jake McTighe is a Knoch graduate.

Jake McTighe entered his freshman year at Lafayette in 2009 competing for the starting fullback position. Things didn't go his way in the beginning, and soon he found himself struggling for playing time beyond special teams.

“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 field.

As a junior, he made the switch from fullback to defensive end and spent this regular season as a senior starter for the Leopards' defense.

His final season has been full of excitement and moments that are 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-five opponent. McTighe made his presence known, registering three tackles and a sack that resulted in 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 into the FCS playoffs. The team finished 5-6 (4-1 Patriot League). It's the team's first Patriot League title since 2006 and just the fourth playoff berth in program history.

The Leopards open the playoffs at noon Saturday at New Hampshire (7-4) in a game that will be shown on ESPN3.

“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.”

For the season, McTigue has registered 34 total tackles and 2 12 sacks.

“Jake is having a terrific year,” Lafayette coach Frank Tavani said. “He's been a plus on special teams through the years and this year he's done a great job on the defensive line. I couldn't be happier with his development and he's one of our senior leaders.”

Knoch football coach Mike King not only coached McTigue but continued to root for him as a former player and fellow Leopard. 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.

“It's something that makes you real proud as a coach.”

D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.

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