WORCESTER, Mass. – Junior quarterback Chris Lum threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns and added 64 yards on the ground to lead Lehigh to its fifth straight win, as the Mountain Hawks downed Holy Cross 34-17 Saturday at Fitton Field. The win, coupled with Colgate’s win over Lafayette gives Lehigh at least a share of the Patriot League Championship. Lehigh can win the title outright with a win over Georgetown next Saturday.
The win improves Lehigh’s record to 7-2 overall and 3-0 in the Patriot League, while Holy Cross falls to 4-5 overall and 1-2 in league games.
“When you don’t play your best and you still beat a good football team, that’s the sign of a good football team,” said Lehigh head coach Andy Coen. “Chris (Lum) got better as the game went on. He didn’t have a great start, but after he threw the interception he bounced back and did a heck of a job. His teammates stepped up around him. We didn’t give up a sack today and he used his feet well to make plays.
Coen continued, “Defensively I thought we were in control for most of the day. It was a pretty balanced effort but obviously there were also some mistakes that we need to clean up.”
The contest began with the teams trading punts on their first series and then trading turnovers second time around. On the Crusaders’ second possession, Holy Cross’ Mark Tolzien completed a pass to Luke Chmielinski but Lehigh senior Billy Dokouslis knocked the ball loose while making the tackle and Casey Eldemire recovered to give the Mountain Hawks the ball in Crusader territory.
Lehigh appeared to be headed for the opening score, moving inside the Holy Cross ten yard line, but on third-and-goal Lum was intercepted by C.J. Martin and the Brown and White came away with no points.
The Mountain Hawks capitalized on a short Crusader punt to get on the scoreboard late in the first quarter. It took just three plays and 49 yards as Lum rolled right and threw back left to senior Craig Zurn for a 21-yard touchdown to put Lehigh up 7-0 after one quarter.
The Crusaders cut into Lehigh’s lead on a 29-yard field goal by Rob Dornfried with just over six minutes left in the first half, but the Mountain Hawks got the ball back and ran out the clock while extending their lead. Lehigh went 70 yards in 13 plays. With time winding down, Coen elected not to call time out and in the final seconds of the half, Lum took a snap, again rolled left and threw back across the field, this time to senior tight end Alex Wojdowski, who broke a tackle and ran into the end zone for a five yard touchdown as time expired.
Lehigh out-gained Holy Cross 182-94 in the opening 30 minutes. Lum shook off a slow start to finish 14-of-21 for 109 yards and the two touchdown passes. He was also Lehigh’s leading rusher with 28 yards on five carries. Sophomore Ryan Spadola was the top receiver with 37 yards on five catches.
Holy Cross quarterbacks Mark Tolzien and Ryan Taggart combined to go 8-of-14 for 64 yards.
A 64-yard kick return by senior John Kennedy gave Lehigh great field position on the first possession of the third quarter but two plays later Jay Campbell fumbled in the red zone and Holy Cross recovered. Lehigh’s defense however forced a three-and-out to get the ball back and set up the Mountain Hawks’ third score.
Lehigh went 56 yards in three plays and Lum picked up his third TD pass of the day, once again throwing back to his left and this time finding junior Jake Drwal for a 30-yard score that extended the Mountain Hawks’ lead to 21-3.
Holy Cross reached the end zone for the first time late in the third quarter with a ten play, 67-yard drive that was kept alive by a pair of Lehigh penalties. Gerald Mistretta took a handoff and ran around left end from a two-yard touchdown to make the score 21-10 Lehigh after three quarters.
The Lehigh offense once again responded to a Crusader score as the Mountain Hawks drove down the field and scored their fourth touchdown of the day on an 18-yard run by sophomore Zach Barket. The Crusaders then fumbled the ensuing kickoff and sophomore Bryan Andrews recovered at the Holy Cross 36 yard line. Senior Tom Randazza booted a 22-yard field goal to make the score 31-10 with seven minutes to play.
Randazza added a second field goal, a 33-yarder with under two minutes to play, while Holy Cross added a late touchdown in the final ten seconds to account for the final margin.
As a team, Lehigh amassed 421 yards of total offense with 209 on the ground and 212 through the air. Spadola was Lehigh’s leading receiver with eight receptions for 87 yards, while Drwal finished with 54 yards on four catches. Barket led the running backs with 53 yards, while Campbell finished with 42.
Senior Al Pierce led the defensive effort with six tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss. Juniors Mike Groome and Tanner Rivas added five tackles apiece to lead the Lehigh “D”
Taggart was 17-of-31 for 179 yards and a touchdown for Holy Cross, while Tolzien threw for 57 yards on 6-of-12 passing. Bill Edger was the Crusaders’ top target with six catches for 73 yards and a score.
Lehigh heads to the nation’s capital next Saturday to take on the Georgetown Hoyas at Multi-Sport Field. The Mountain Hawks can win their first outright Patriot League Championship since 2001 with a win. Kick-off is set for 1:00 and all of the action will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 AM as well as Lehighsports.com with Matt Kerr, Kody Fedorcha ’00 and Matt Markus on the call. Radio pre-game coverage gets underway at noon. The game will not be televised.
EXTRA POINTS… Lum received the Edward N. Anderson Award, which is presented to the outstanding player in the Family Weekend game as voted on by the working press… Holy Cross did not have a home game on Family Weekend so the award went to the MVP of Saturday’s game… temperatures were in the low 40s with a slight breeze… Lehigh’s win snapped Holy Cross’ 13 game winning streak at Fitton Field. The win was Lehigh’s first against Holy Cross since 2006… The Mountain Hawks now own a 13-12-1 lead in the series versus the Crusaders… the Lehigh defense recorded four sacks, by Pierce, Rivas, junior Andrew Knapp and sophomore Sajjad Chagani… Lehigh has earned at least a share of its ninth Patriot League Football Championship, the most among league schools… Lehigh’s seven victories are its most in a season under Andy Coen.