Posted: September 18, 2004
– Junior tailback Eric Rath rushed for a career high 144 yards, including a touchdown, as No. 24 Lehigh downed Liberty
by a score of 34-16 in front of a rowdy 10,825 at Williams Stadium under the lights on Saturday night.
The Mountain Hawks improve to 2-1 on the season, while the Flames fall to 1-2.
Both defenses came out strong in the opening quarter. While Liberty struggled to move the ball early, Lehigh’s ground game got off to a first start. Rath carried the ball eleven times for 47 yards over the first 15 minutes. However, two Mountain Hawks turnovers proved costly, keeping Lehigh off the board. The Liberty defense picked off a Mark Borda pass in the end zone early on, and later in the quarter, Borda fumbled the ball.
Still scoreless in the second quarter, the Flames kicked a field goal to take an apparent 3-0 lead. But a Lehigh penalty on the play gave Liberty a first-and-goal opportunity inside the five yard line. The Flames’ Eugene Goodman was able to punch the ball in from a yard out to give Liberty a 6-0 lead with 8:25 to go in the half. A botched snap on the ensuing point-after attempt kept the Flames’ lead at six points.
Lehigh responded, and quickly mounted a six play, 78-yard drive to tie the score. After moving the ball into the red zone, Lehigh ran a nifty reverse that ended with an uncontested Kevin Zebluim racing into the end zone from 17 yards out. The Justin Musiek extra point gave the Mountain Hawks a slim 7-6 halftime advantage.
Lehigh added to its lead when the Mountain Hawks drove 63 yards and Rath scored his third rushing touchdown of the season – this one from three yards out – to give the visitors a 14-6 lead with 7:19 to go in the quarter. The Flames started moving the ball down field late in the stanza, but Lehigh senior Neal Boozer-Gallman thwarted the drive with his second interception of the season.
In the fourth quarter, Lehigh extended its lead when junior captain Kaloma Cardwell picked off a Paul Troth pass and brought it back 31 yards for his first career INT return for a touchdown. The Cardwell score made the score 20-6, but Lehigh’s extra point conversion attempt was blocked and brought back the length of the field by Erick Harris for a two-point Liberty score, cutting the Lehigh lead to 20-8.
Borda found senior receiver Adam Kovacs on a 13-yard strike in the fourth quarter for an insurance TD, building the Lehigh lead to its largest margin of the night – 19 points – at 27-8. On the ensuing drive, Cardwell picked off his second pass of the night, setting up the Lehigh offense with excellent field position once again. The offense once again took advantage, as Borda found Adam Bergen on a three-yard strike in the back of the end zone with 6:30 left to play.
Borda was 20-for-27 on the night, throwing for 156 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target, Adam Bergen, caught six passes for 48 yards and the touchdown, his second TD catch of the season.
“Our guys are on board,” said Lehigh head coach Pete Lembo after the game. “I really liked our effort out here tonight. We still have plenty of room to get better, but I thought we played well.”
Lehigh is idle next week. The Mountain Hawks return to Goodman Stadium on October 2, when Lehigh hosts Albany on Youth Activity Day. Kick-off is set for 1:00.