LEWISBURG, Pa. – Senior Chris Lum led another dominant offensive attack while Lehigh’s defense was equally strong, allowing only two field goals while tallying 10 sacks as the Mountain Hawks (5-1, 1-0 Patriot League) cruised to a 30-6 win over Bucknell Saturday at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. Lum finished 30-of-37 for 368 yards and four touchdowns while sophomore Ryan Spadola had his second straight 10-catch game.
“The kids had good focus coming out,” said Lehigh head coach Andy Coen. “Defensively, we did a great job all day. The offense did a super job throwing the football. We knew it’d be tough sledding running the ball, so we focused on passing against these guys.”
Bucknell entered as the top team in the Patriot League against the run. Coming in, the Bison were only allowing 66.2 yards per game on the ground.
Spadola’s 10 receptions went for 181 yards and two touchdowns while senior Jake Drwal tallied nine for 63 yards and a score. Senior Jimmy Jefferson also had a big day, making three catches for 34 yards and his first career touchdown. Junior Zach Barket had two catches for 44 yards, including one which went for 41.
“Our strength right now is perimeter skill and quarterback,” said Coen. “A couple blitzes got to us today, but for most part, we did a good job of protecting [Lum]. We’re beating someone 30-3 and clearing the bench for the second week in a row, so it’s never a bad thing.”
Seniors Ben Flizack and Colin Newton led the defensive charge with two sacks apiece while six other Mountain Hawks recorded at least a half a sack. The Lehigh defense didn’t allow a touchdown for the first time since a 27-0 win over Georgetown on Oct. 10, 2009, and have only allowed 13 points in their last two games and only 13 spanning the last nine quarters.
The Mountain Hawks received the opening kickoff and moved the ball into Bison territory behind a pair of key third down conversions from Lum to Drwal and then Spadola. The drive stalled however, and sophomore Tim Divers came on to kick a 35-yard field goal to give Lehigh an early 3-0 lead.
From there the defenses took over, until Lehigh broke through with a big play late in the first quarter. On the final play of the quarter Lum hit junior Zach Barket out of the backfield for 41 yards. Lum then opened the second stanza with a nine-yard touchdown pass to senior Jimmy Jefferson to extend Lehigh’s lead to 10-0.
Midway through the quarter, Lehigh extended its lead with an 11-play, 76-yard drive capped off with a nine yard touchdown pass to Drwal. The Mountain Hawks defense forced a three-and-out and two plays after Drwal set Lehigh up in Bucknell territory with a 27 yard punt return, Lum hit Spadola on a screen pass for a 19-yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked and Lehigh led 23-0 at that point.
Bucknell scored its first points late in the half, capitalizing on a Lum interception as Drew Orth kicked a 43-yard field goal to make Lehigh’s lead 23-3 at the half.
Lehigh out-gained Bucknell 242-94 through the first 30 minutes. Lum was 20-of-26 for 247 yards, with Drwal catching seven for 51 and Spadola hauling in six for 99.
On its first possession of the second half, Lehigh drove 80 yards in 11 plays. Lum and Spadola connected again, this time on a 39-yard catch-and-run to put the Mountain Hawks up 30-3.
Lehigh continued to move the ball, using a long eight-play, 77-yard drive bridging the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarters to move to the Bison 10-yard line, but a fourth-and-one rush went for no gain, giving the ball back to Bucknell.
Bucknell got all the way down to the Lehigh seven late in the fourth, but two consecutive sacks, by junior Anthony Verderame and senior Shane Ryan, forced Orth to kick his second field goal of the day, a 41-yarder, good for the 30-6 final.
The Mountain Hawks held a 416-246 edge in total yards, including 373-208 through the air. Lehigh finished with 43 yards on the ground to Bucknell’s 38. A clean game saw only one total turnover, the Bison second-quarter interception of Lum.
Lehigh heads to the Bronx, N.Y. next Saturday to take on the Fordham Rams at Jack Coffey Field. 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 and Matt Markus on the call. Radio pre-game coverage gets underway at noon.
EXTRA POINTS… Lehigh has now won 14 straight games over Bucknell, the longest current winning streak over one opponent in the FCS … The Mountain Hawks improved to 5-1 in Patriot League openers under Andy Coen … Spadola eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark for the ninth time and eclipsed the 2000-yard receiving mark for his career … The Mountain Hawks’ defense recorded a season-high 10 sacks … Chris Lum surpassed 300 yards through the air for the sixth time in as many games this season and seventh straight dating back to last year.