BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh football team wrapped up its spring season on Saturday at the annual Brown and White Game as the Mountain Hawks defense outlasted the offense 39-37 in a back-and-forth affair inside of Goodman Stadium. The defense exacted revenge on the offense after falling in last year’s game as the D picked off four passes on the afternoon. Linebacker Troy Taylor led the Lehigh defense with six tackles, while four different players intercepted passes, including Jonathan Littlejohn who returned his to pay dirt.
"It played out for the most part the way I thought it would with plenty of good competition on both sides of the ball," Mountain Hawks head coach Andy Coen said afterwards. "The defense created turnovers, some of which were off of bad decisions by the quarterbacks, but we’ve been preaching to the defense all spring about taking the ball away and keeping it and today they were able to do that." He continued, "I thought offensively the flow went smooth with (Offensive Coordinator) Dave (Cecchini) calling the plays live for really the first time. A lot of positions are still up for grabs on both sides and now it’s up to the kids to work hard during the summer and come back to campus ready for football in August."
All four quarterbacks on the Lehigh roster saw action on Saturday, including JB Clark who completed six-of-ten passes for 53 yards and one score. "I thought overall there were some things that I could have done better and the offense as a whole could have improved on," Clark said afterwards. "We still have a long way to go before September, a lot of work to get done, but it felt good to get out here today. I think we had a good spring but there is definitely room for us to improve between now and the next time we get out here."
Also at quarterback Chris Lum completed 6-of-13 passes for 52 yards and a score, while Mike Colvin threw for 86 yards on five completions and Trace Cisneros totaled 14 yards through the air.
The offense looked sharp on its first possession as it drove in for a touchdown, which came on a pretty Clark to Jake Drwal pass that covered 20 yards into the corner of the end zone. Clark completed every pass he attempted on the drive. The Mountain Hawks defense then answered right back as Littlejohn stepped in front of Colvin’s first attempt, picked it off, and took it the distance for a touchdown. Colvin later redeemed himself as he connected with fullback Alex Petroff for a five-yard touchdown.
The final offensive touchdown of the day came when Lum scrambled out of the pocket and found tight end Jamel Haggins for a score in the back of the end zone. Haggins finished with three receptions for 13 yards, while Preston Soeprasetyo led the team with 43 yards receiving. Drwal hauled in three passes for 40 yards and Craig Zurn (two), De’Vaughn Gordon (two), Ryan Spadola (two) and Jimmy Jefferson (two) each caught multiple passes.
In the running game Lum led the Brown and White with 28 yards on four carries, while Jay Campbell rushed for 31 yards on five attempts and Zach Barket added 20 yards on six rushes.
The Lehigh defense picked off three more passes throughout the course of the day, including one each from Billy O’Brien, Gabe Johnson and Shane Ryan. Ryan’s interception proved to be the final play of the day and sealed the victory for the D. Earlier in the afternoon Ryan was honored with the Jim Gum Scholarship Award, which is presented in memory of former Lehigh football player James S. Gum ’84.
Other Mountain Hawks who stood out on defense included Al Pierce with three tackles, Bryan Andrews with four stops, Tanner Rivas who had four tackles, including one-for-loss, and a sack, and Sajjad Chagani who totaled two tackles and a sack. In all, the Lehigh defense registered four sacks with one apiece from Rivas, Chagani, Andrew Knapp and Ben Flizack.
Defensive back Jarard Cribbs offered his overall assessment of the defense. "In the first half we started slow. The offense was making plays and we needed to step up. We know one area that we need to improve in this season is getting off the field on third down, so that was our focus after halftime and we were able to be more successful with it."
He continued, "From here we want to finish the school year out strong, focus on our academics, and get everyone healthy and then it’s time for summer training. We want as many guys back on campus immediately so we can get to work for the upcoming season."
Prior to the start of the game Al Pierce and Will Rackley were named captains of the program for the 2010 season.
Coen said that overall it was a productive spring for his team. "Our goal was to develop kids on both sides of the ball and we were able to do that for the most part. We know who our top six or seven offensive lineman are and we feel confident there. I think the quarterbacks have taken well to what Dave (Cecchini) has been teaching them as well. One area we need to keep getting better is in the kicking game. All spring we were able to put those guys in tough situations and that needs to continue. It’s only going to get them better."
Lehigh will open preseason camp in early August with the 2010 season opener slated for Saturday, September 4 versus Drake in Des Moines, Iowa. The contest will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 as well as Lehighsports.com.