BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh defense came up with five turnovers while the offense capitalized with another big scoring day as the No. 13/14 Mountain Hawks (4-1) picked up their third straight win, defeating Yale, 37-7 Saturday in front of 6,072 at Goodman Stadium. Senior Chris Lum finished 34-of-46 for 378 yards and three touchdowns while both junior Ryan Spadola and senior Jake Drwal finished with double-digit receptions. The Mountain Hawks now hit the road for three straight games before returning home Nov. 5 to host Holy Cross.
Drwal caught all three of Lum’s touchdowns and finished with 10 catches for 112 yards, while Spadola had 10 receptions at the half and finished with 11 for 148 yards, including two big plays of 45 and 38 yards respectively.
Sophomore Keith Sherman had a rushing touchdown, finding the end zone for the fourth straight game while senior Zach Barket finished with four catches for 41 yards out of the backfield.
The Lehigh defense was stellar all game as senior Mike Groome and junior Gabe Johnson each had interceptions while the Mountain Hawks forced six Yale fumbles, recovering three.
“I’m very pleased with how our defense played over the course of the game,” explained Lehigh head coach Andy Coen. “The first half was frenetic and marred by penalties and turnovers, but our defense did a great job creating those turnovers and did a nice job controlling Yale’s offense.”
Lehigh’s defense was sharp early, forcing two Bulldogs’ turnovers within the game’s first 2:30. Johnson picked off a third-down heave from Patrick Witt, but then fumbled as he scampered up field. However, two plays later, the Mountain Hawks forced another turnover as junior Billy O’Brien forced a fumble on Deon Randall, allowing senior Billy Dokouslis to recover.
On the ensuing drive, Barket converted a huge fourth-and-two, rushing eight yards on the left side to give Lehigh a fresh set of downs. The drive was capped off by a 26-yard field goal from sophomore Tim Divers to give the Mountain Hawks a 3-0 advantage with 8:14 remaining in the first.
Lehigh forced a three-and-out, but fumbled the ensuing punt, giving Yale the ball in prime field position. The Mountain Hawks’ defense came up big once again, forcing their third turnover of the first quarter when Witt fumbled after getting sacked, allowing junior Sajjad Chagani to recover at the Lehigh 34 yard line.
The Mountain Hawks were forced to punt, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave them a first down, and second life. The squad capitalized, marching 66 yards on 12 plays, capped off by a three-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Michael Colvin to make it 10-0 with 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Yale came right back, marching 66 yards on nine plays as an eight-yard pitch and catch from Witt to Randall made it 10-7 with 11:49 to go in the second.
Lum was picked off on the following drive as Drew Baldwin tipped the ball at the line and Will McHale came up with the nifty interception to give Yale the ball at the Lehigh 29. The Mountain Hawks’ defense proved strong once again, as senior Colin Newtown sacked Witt on a third-down play to force a long 46-yard field goal, which sailed wide of the mark, preserving Lehigh’s three-point advantage.
Lehigh opened up a two-score lead late in the second quarter as Lum found Spadola on the left side for a 45-yard gain deep into Yale territory. Five players later, Lum connected with Drwal on a third-and-goal for a nine-yard touchdown strike. The extra point was no good, making it 16-7 with 4:47 left in the second.
“Offensively, we moved the ball but couldn’t convert some third downs in the first half,” Coen said. “We made some mistakes so I wasn’t happy with that at halftime. There weren’t many adjustments. We just needed to refocus. Our players did a great job with that. We played the second half the way we could have played the entire game.”
Each team began the second half with a pair of empty possessions until the Mountain Hawks used another big connection from Lum to Spadola to set up their third touchdown of the afternoon. On the Yale 44, Spadola got behind the defense and made a 38-yard catch, leading to a Drwal fade into the right corner of the end zone just two players later to make it 23-7 with 6:34 remaining in the third.
Lum found Drwal for the second time in as many offensive possessions to make it 30-7 with 31 seconds left in the third. Earlier in the drive, Drwal came up with a big 27-yard catch to get into Yale territory.
Lehigh scored a touchdown for its third straight possession early in the fourth. After a short punt, the Mountain Hawks began on the Bulldogs’ 39 yard line. Drwal came up with a big 17-yard catch which Sherman capped off with a four-yard touchdown rush to open up a 30-point lead with 12:26 still left in the fourth.
Colvin came in for Lehigh’s final drive midway through the fourth as the Mountain Hawks ate up 4:05 of the clock to put the game away.
Lehigh gained 475 yards (391 passing, 84 rushing) to Yale’s 203 (120 passing, 83 rushing). The Mountain Hawks held Witt, one of the Ivy League’s top offensive players, to only 120 yards on 12-of-31 passing.
“This was a good win over a good Yale team,” Coen said. “It’s particularly important since we’re on the road for our next three games to come out with a win. We were able to build off an emotional win last week. To come out and beat a good Ivy League team was really important as we go into league play next week.”
The Mountain Hawks now hit the road for the rest of October, beginning with their Patriot League opener at Bucknell next Saturday. Lehigh will then head to Fordham on Oct. 15 and Colgate on the 29th before returning home to host Holy Cross on Nov. 5. The Bucknell game kicks off just after 1 p.m. from Christy Mathewson Memorial Stadium with audio coverage on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 as well as Lehighsports.com beginning at noon.
EXTRA POINTS: Lehigh welcomed back its 1961 Lambert Cup Championship Team for a special halftime ceremony … The Mountain Hawks’ softball team was presented its 2011 Patriot League Championship rings at the half as well … Lehigh was awarded the Yank Townsend Trophy following the game. In recognition of competition between Lehigh University and Yale University, the lifetime achievements of their graduates and the generations of families that have attended both universities, the Yank Townsend Trophy is presented to the winner of the Lehigh-Yale football game. Charles Frederick Townsend was the only student from Connecticut to enter the Lehigh Class of 1895, earning the nickname “Yank.” … Chris Lum surpassed 300 yards passing for the fifth time in as many games this season and sixth straight time dating back to last year… the Mountain Hawk defense registered a season-high four sacks.