BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh football team jumped out to a quick 31-0 lead and wouldn’t look back as it downed the Colgate Raiders, 44-14, in its final home game of the season on Saturday in front of 6,784 at Goodman Stadium. A balanced offensive attack saw six different Lehigh players score touchdowns as the Mountain Hawks improve to 6-2 overall and 2-0 in Patriot League play with three road games remaining.
The win marks Lehigh’s first over the Raiders since its last Patriot League Championship season in 2006. The victory improves the Mountain Hawks’ record to 6-2, 2-0 in league play, as they remain the only unbeaten team in the Patriot League.
“It was a great performance,” said Lehigh head coach Andy Coen. “You have to give credit to the kids. We talked about it being the seniors’ last game in Goodman Stadium and wanting them to go out the right way and leave with your heads held high. We’ve got a great group of guys on this team. Aside from beating Lafayette in your last home game, beating Colgate is probably the next best thing.”
Junior quarterback Chris Lum finished 17-for-22 for a career-high 310 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a third-quarter touchdown. Sophomore Michael Colvin saw significant time as well, finishing with 41 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown.
Sophomore receiver Ryan Spadola fell just four yards short of his third straight 100 yard receiving game, finishing with six catches for 96 yards. Senior Craig Zurn had a career game with five catches for 107 yards while freshman Sean Farrell, senior Alex Wojdowski and junior Jake Drwal each had receiving touchdowns as well.
The 44 points marked Lehigh’s highest scoring outburst since a 45-24 win over Fordham in 2008. The Mountain Hawks out-gained the Raiders, 474-304, including 317-89 through the air.
Lehigh jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, taking the opening drive 72 yards on eight plays, capped off by Farrell’s 16 yard touchdown reception. A big play to set up the score was an 18 yard pass from Lum to Zurn to move to the Colgate 32 yard line.
“Even though we scored quickly today, they’re leading the nation in time of possession, so it was key for us to be efficient on our drives,” Coen said. “To take a 7-0 lead on them, that’s a big deal. They were playing from behind from the minute they touched the ball.”
Colgate (4-4, 1-2 PL) answered with a 51 yard drive downfield, but junior Tanner Rivas blocked Evan Colborne’s 26-yard field goal attempt to keep the Mountain Hawks leading, 7-0.
After trading possessions, Lehigh got the ball back and doubled its lead to 14-0 with 14:55 left in the second quarter. Wojdowski took a seven-yard pass from Colvin to cap off a short three play, 41 yard drive which took only 57 seconds.
The Mountain Hawks added a Tom Randazza field goal with 9:04 to go, then made it 24-0 only 1:13 later when senior Jarard Cribbs made his Patriot League leading sixth interception and took it 48 yards for the touchdown to make it 24-0 with 7:51 until halftime.
“It’s a great feeling to know that you’re playing your technique,” Cribbs said of his interception. “He can throw you one and you’ve got to capitalize off of it. That’s what our defense is about. Once the situation arises, you’ve got to win a play and step up if you want to make plays and win championships.”
The Lehigh defense continued to stop the Raiders and the Mountain Hawk offense continued to impress, taking advantage of great field position with yet another touchdown to make it 31-0 with 3:27 until halftime. Drwal’s nine yard touchdown reception capped off the short 35 yard drive.
Colgate did get on the scoreboard when Chris Looney took a five-yard pass from quarterback Steve Rizzo with only 35 seconds remaining to pull within 31-7 at the half.
The momentum continued into the second half, where the Mountain Hawks opened up a 37-point advantage. After forcing a three-and-out, Lehigh came right back, going 73 yards on four plays to extend its lead to 30. Colvin capped off the drive with an eight yard touchdown run. The extra point was missed, but the Mountain Hawks still led, 37-7.
The offense kept clicking on all cylinders and a 36 yard pass from Lum to Spadola set up the Mountain Hawks at the one yard line. Lehigh hurried to the line where a Lum quarterback sneak made it 44-7 with 8:53 to go in the third quarter.
It looked like Colgate would chip into the lead, but following a 13 play, 6:31 drive, senior Ben Flizack and junior Mike Groome sacked Rizzo on fourth down to regain possession with 2:16 to go.
The Raiders added a touchdown with 12:50 left in the fourth quarter when Rizzo found Noah Jackson for a 17 yard score.
It looked like the Raiders would pull closer, going 85 yards to the Lehigh three yard line, but the Mountain Hawks kept Colgate out of the end zone as time expired to preserve the 44-14 final.
“When you play these guys, you have to handle the quarterback and the tailback,” Coen said. “It comes down to tackling and I think our tackling has gotten better each week. It wasn’t one guy tackling when they got the football. It was a host of Mountain Hawks getting there at the point of the attack. That’s the way our defense plays. We’re going to have a plan where you are always accounting for the tailback and the quarterback.”
Colgate was without injured starting quarterback Greg Sullivan, while tailback Nate Eachus, the nation’s leading rusher, was limited to 124 yards on 25 carries, more than 40 yards below his season average.
Groome paced Lehigh defensively with 12 total tackles, while Rivas added ten. The Mountain Hawks added four sacks on defense, including 1.5 from Flizack.
Lehigh hits the road for three straight games to close out the regular season, beginning next Saturday at Holy Cross. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. The game can be seen live on WFMZ-TV as well as Fox College Sports Atlantic. The game will also be carried live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 AM, and live video of the contest will be shown on Lehighsports.com.
EXTRA POINTS: Cribbs’ six interceptions are the most in the Patriot league since 2004 … His interception return for a touchdown was the first of his career. He had previously scored on a punt return … The Mountain Hawks wore pink ribbon decals on their helmets to help promote breast cancer awareness month. Lehigh coaches also wore pink ribbon pins on their outerwear … Saturday was Lehigh’s last home game, but fans who can’t make it to Easton for the Lehigh-Lafayette football game on Nov. 20 can go to Stabler Arena for the first-ever Lehigh-Lafayette viewing party. For more information, please call 610-7LU-GAME.
Photos (c) 2010 Lehigh Athletics/Image by Hugo