Posted: September 12, 2009
VILLANOVA, Pa. – Lehigh had its hands full with the nation’s third ranked team on Saturday evening as the Mountain Hawks fell to Villanova 38-17 at Villanova Stadium. Wildcats quarterback Chris Whitney was 11-of-16 for 106 yards and two touchdowns through the air, while rushing for 130 yards and another score. In all, Villanova rushed for 310 yards and amassed 417 yards of total offense en route to the win.
"I thought we made improvements over last week but certainly not enough to win against the number-three team in the country," Lehigh head coach Andy Coen said afterwards in the press conference. "But we did clean things up in certain areas and now we have to keep moving forward. We have our bye week coming up which will allow some of our banged up guys to get healthy and we'll go back, watch the tape and continue to improve."
He continued, "The kids competed until the end and really fought all night long against a physical opponent. We missed some tackles on our end, but some of that was what they (Villanova) were doing."
Villanova (2-0) received the opening kick-off and proceeded to march 66 yards down the field for its first touchdown of the evening. Whitney sprinted 21 yards to pay dirt for the score which put the home team in front 7-0 with 11:09 remaining in the first quarter. The Wildcats added to their lead on their next possession on a 29-yard field goal by Nick Yako at the 5:17 mark. Matt Szczur set Villanova up with a first-and-goal following a brilliant 75-yard run but the Lehigh defense stood tall and forced the Wildcats into the field goal attempt. Senior captain BJ Benning had a big sack of Whitney on third-down that threw the ‘Nova signal caller for an eight-yard loss.
After Villanova punted to open the second quarter Lehigh put together a solid drive that consisted of 11-plays and covered 52 yards in 5:15 and was capped off by junior running back Jaren Walker who took a pitch from Clark on an option and rumbled one yard to the end zone. That score made it a 10-7 game with 9:33 left before intermission. Villanova went back in front by ten when Whitney hit Angelo Babbaro on a 13-yard score with 4:54 on the clock. On Lehigh’s first play of the very next drive Walker was hit for a loss and lost the ball on a questionable fumble call. Marlon Johnson scooped up the loose football and rumbled 19 yards for another Wildcat score which put the Mountain Hawks in a 24-7 hole which is how the teams would head into the locker room. "I thought that was a big shift in momentum," Coen explained. "That play was similar to last year when we had a touchdown called back on a holding penalty and Villanova intercepted the next pass and ran it in for a score."
Lehigh (0-2) totaled only 82 total yards in the opening half, including 62 through the air from Clark. The junior completed 12-of-17 passes with Craig Zurn serving as his favorite target as he hauled in three passes for 30 yards. Walker gained seven of Lehigh’s 20 rush yards, while freshman Michael Colvin rushed the ball twice for ten yards. Senior captain Matt Cohen led the Brown and White with seven first half stops while John Kennedy and John Veniero each totaled four apiece.
Whitney threw for 58 yards in the opening 30 minutes as he completed 7-of-11 passes and the QB also rushed 12 times for 101 yards and a score. Babbaro caught two passes for 27 yards and Marlon Calbi and James Pitts led the Wildcats with four tackles each.
The Mountain Hawks got the ball first in the third quarter and proceeded to move 36 yards in ten plays and junior Tom Randazza added three points with his first career field goal, this one coming from 41-yards out. Villanova answered right back however as Aaron Ball sprinted 39 yards up the left sideline for a touchdown and 31-10 Wildcat lead with 8:49 left on the clock.
Norman White added a score for the Wildcats in the fourth when he took a pass from Whitney and scampered 14 yards to pay dirt. That made it a 38-10 game with 13:54 to go in the game.
Mid-way through the fourth, Coen turned to sophomore quarterback Chris Lum, who promptly engineered a 15-play, 87-yard drive resulting in a score when he found Alex Wojdowski in the back of the end zone for a two-yard TD pass. Freshman Michael Colvin finished as Lehigh's leading rusher as he gained 26 yards on six attempts from the quarterback spot. "When we put the package in earlier this week I was certainly excited about having a chance to get on the field, but I didn't expect to see as much action as I did." He continued, "That was definitely the best defense I've ever seen, but nothing too scary, so hopefully I can get in there again this season and help the team."
Lehigh will have its bye week next Saturday, before returning to action on September 26 to host Princeton on Kids Day at Goodman Stadium. Fans who bring a book to the game to help local children in need will receive a voucher for free admission to a future Lehigh basketball game. Tickets to the Lehigh-Princeton clash may be purchased on Lehighsports.com or by calling (610) 7LU-GAME.
EXTRA POINTS … fans can watch a replay of Saturday’s game at 1:00 on Service Electric 2 Sports and Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh as well as anytime on Lehighsports.com … including Saturday’s contest Lehigh will play each of its four road games on an artificial surface this season … senior wide receiver Jimmy Potocnie hauled in his first career reception early in the second quarter. Potocnie finished the night with four catches for 15 yards … Villanova was the highest ranked team Lehigh has played since taking on No. 3 Furman in the 2001 NCAA playoffs … Lehigh had possession for 31 minutes on Saturday night.