Posted: October 1, 2005
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In a battle of top-15 teams, No. 11 Lehigh forced five turnovers and exploded with 28 unanswered points in the second half en route to a 49-24 win over No. 15 Harvard Saturday afternoon at Harvard Stadium. Mountain Hawks quarterback Mark Borda threw for 347 yards and was responsible for four touchdowns, while Eric Rath rushed for three touchdowns for the second straight week. The victory is the Mountain Hawks’ second straight away from Goodman Stadium, improving their record to 3-1. Lehigh also snapped the Crimson’s 13 game win streak dating back to last season, which was the longest streak in I-AA entering Saturday.
Harvard falls to 2-1 on the season.
Lehigh got on the scoreboard on the game’s opening drive. The Harvard defense forced a punt, but the Crimson roughed Mountain Hawks freshman punter Jason Leo and the penalty allowed Lehigh to retain possession in Harvard territory. Lehigh capitalized when senior Eric Rath scored from one yard out to give the Mountain Hawks a 7-0 lead.
The Mountain Hawks extended their lead early in the second quarter. Senior Anthony Graziani intercepted Harvard quarterback Liam O’Hagan and three plays later, with Lehigh facing a third and long from its own nine yard line, Borda connected with Winfred Porter on a 91 yard bomb to put Lehigh up 14-0.
That strike was the second longest touchdown pass in Lehigh history, trailing only a 97-yard strike from Mike Rieker to Mark Weaver against Penn in 1976.
The Crimson got on the board when O’Hagan scampered in from 22 yards out and after a Matt Schindel 36 yard field goal the Mountain Hawks led 14-10 at halftime.
O’Hagan put Harvard ahead with a 13 yard run early in the third quarter, but then Lehigh took control of the game, scoring 28 points in a row to build a 42-17 advantage. The Mountain Hawks responded to O’Hagan’s second touchdown run with a 77 yard drive culminating in Rath’s second one-yard touchdown plunge of the day to regain the lead. After forcing a punt, Lehigh drove down the field again, a drive that ended in Rath’s third touchdown run of the game, which equaled his career high, set last week at VMI.
The Lehigh defense went back to work and got the ball back as Julian Ahye intercepted O’Hagan, and three plays later Borda tossed his second scoring strike of the day, a 19 yarder to Kevin Zebluim. On the next Harvard drive, Graziani picked off O’Hagan for the second time in the game and returned the ball to the Crimson 22. Lehigh would capitalize once again, as Borda this time used his legs to run the ball in from the three yard line. Following a Harvard touchdown Borda wrapped up the scoring with his second touchdown run of the game.
Borda finished 25-39 for 341 yards and despite throwing three interceptions, threw two touchdowns and ran for two more. His two rushing scores equaled his previous career total.
"Mark has got such strong character and a humble approach," said Lehigh Pete Lembo of his senior quarterback's second half performance. "A lot of other guys might have gone in the tank, but he continued to believe in himself and we continued to believe in him."
Rath ran 25 times for 76 yards and now has nine rushing touchdowns through four games. Defensively, Julian Austin and Matt Purdy added interceptions as the Brown and White picked off Harvard quarterbacks O’Hagan and Richard Irvin five times on the afternoon. The Mountain Hawk defense also held highly touted Harvard tailback Clifton Dawson to just 59 yards rushing.
"Dawson is a big part of their offense," Lehigh linebacker Anthony Graziani said following the win. "He is a great running back, but we were able to make plays when it counted."
Lehigh returns home for the first time in over a month when the Mountain Hawks welcome Holy Cross to Goodman Stadium on Saturday, October 8. Kick-off is set for 1:07 pm. For tickets call (610) 7LU-GAME or log on to lehighsports.com.
EXTRA POINTS ... Lehigh's 49 points scored at Harvard are the most since 54 in the opening game vs. Monmouth ... The five interceptions by the Mountain Hawks' defense are the most since recording five picks in the 2004 opener vs. Stony Brook ... With Saturday's win over Harvard, Lehigh has now defeated at least one top 25 team in six consecutive seasons ... The Mountain Hawks are 8-2 against Ivy League teams under head coach Pete Lembo.