BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Mountain Hawks jumped out to an early lead and didn’t look back as they cruised to a convincing 32-10 win over Bucknell in front of 7,571 on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Goodman Stadium. Junior Chris Lum finished 19-for-33 passing for 269 yards and three touchdowns, all to sophomore Ryan Spadola, as Lehigh improves to 5-2 on the season and 1-0 in Patriot League play.
The win extends Lehigh’s winning streak to three games, its longest since 2007.
Spadola’s three touchdowns were the most for a Lehigh player since De’Vaughn Gordon had three against Fordham last year. He now has five touchdowns over the past two weeks following his 14 reception, 206 yard effort last week at Harvard. He followed that up with a six catches, for 11 yards against the Bison.
Senior Jay Campbell had 15 carries for 80 yards while sophomore Zach Barket also gained 51 yards on nine carries with a touchdown.
"I thought the first half, with exception of some kicking issues it was a very good half of football," said Lehigh head coach Andy Coen. "Offensively, we moved the ball and scored points, and the defense was doing well. We came out a little flat in the second half. They put points on the board, but we were able to answer, which was good to see. The defense got right back to doing what they were doing most of the time, [which was] shutting them down."
The Mountain Hawks charged down the field on the game’s opening drive and took the lead when Lum connected with Spadola for a 15-yard touchdown strike over the middle. Spadola made a spectacular grab to reel in the pass, snagging the ball with one hand and tipping it into his chest for the score. The resulting extra point was blocked by the Bison to keep Lehigh’s lead at 6-0 with 12:03 showing on the first quarter clock.
Following senior John Veniero’s fumble recovery at midfield, the Brown and White added to their lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter. Barket capped an eight-play, 56-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown scamper to make it 13-0 with 13:08 to play in the half. Seven of the eight plays on the scoring drive were runs, including an 18-yard dash down the sideline by Campbell.
Bucknell responded on its ensuing drive when Travis Friend plowed up the middle for a three-yard touchdown run to make it 13-7. The drive was set up by a 53-yard kickoff return from Marlon Woods to start the Bison offense on the Lehigh 43.
The Mountain Hawks punched right back with 10 unanswered points to end the half. Senior Tom Randazza split the uprights with a 24-yard field goal midway through the quarter to make it 16-7, before Lum found Spadola again for a 14-yard touchdown to make it 23-7 heading into the locker room.
Lum completed 16-of-28 passes in the first half for 191 yards, while Campbell rushed 13 times for 75 yards. The Mountain Hawks outgained the Bison by a 289-80 margin in the opening half, holding a 21-5 edge in first downs and converting on five of eight third-down plays.
Bucknell came out of the locker room and marched 64 yards down the field, picking up a 27-yard field goal from Alex Eckard to pull within 23-10 with 9:12 to go in the third quarter. The Bison had a second and three from the Lehigh five yard line, but junior Colin Newtown sacked quarterback Brandon Wesley for a six-yard loss to force the field goal.
Lehigh responded on the ensuing drive to take a 29-10 lead. After a 27-yard kickoff return from freshman Courtney Jarvis to the 46-yard line, it took only two plays to put another touchdown on the board as Lum connected with Spadola for a 32-yard pitch and catch to cap off a short two play, 54-yard drive. The two-point conversion was no good and the Mountain Hawks led by 19 with 8:03 to go in the third.
"We knew we were going to be a pass first attack against these guys," Coen said. "We matched up better was throwing the football against these guys. We came out and were able to do that. It was good to see. And we mixed the run in – getting three, four yards a clip there – and those eventually become bigger runs."
Junior Groome’s interception set up the Mountain Hawks deep in Bucknell territory as Randazza knocked through a 38-yard field goal to make it 32-10 with 14:48 remaining in the fourth quarter.
For the game, Lehigh picked up 466 total yards to only 195 for Bucknell. The Mountain Hawks outgained the Bison, 181-40 through the air and 285-155 on the ground. The defense also had two interceptions, which included the team-leading fifth pick from senior Jarard Cribbs. The Mountain Hawks also recorded three sacks, from junior Tanner Rivas, Newton and sophomore Sajjad Chagani.
"We just need to keep getting better," Coen said. "We’re down to a month season, four weeks left in this football season, and we need to keep getting better. I think the offense is, and you look at the yardage given up the last couple weeks, the defense is too. That’s a positive sign."
Lehigh will return to Goodman Stadium for its final regular season home game next Saturday to face the Colgate Raiders on Homecoming. Kick-off is set for just after 12:30 and tickets can be purchased in one of three ways: by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by visiting the Lehigh Athletics Ticket Office, located in Grace Hall, or by logging onto Lehighsports.com.
EXTRA POINTS…Saturday marked Homecoming at Goodman Stadium… Lehigh welcomed back the members of its 1980 Lambert Cup Championship Football team today…the 1980 team finished 9-0-2 and was a semi-finalist in the 1-AA playoffs…At halftime, the Lehigh men’s and women’s basketball teams received their 2010 Patriot League championship rings…Randazza’s first-half FG was his first since Sept. 12, 2009 at Villanova…Spadola recorded multiple touchdown catches for the second straight week. He now has five receiving touchdowns in the last two weeks and a team-best six for the season… Lehigh has now won 13 straight games against Bucknell.