Posted: October 8, 2005
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – No. 10 Lehigh fell in its Patriot League opener by a score of 13-10 to Holy Cross on a rain-soaked afternoon at Goodman Stadium on Saturday.
The win snapped the Mountain Hawks seven game winning streak against the Crusaders, and brings their record to 3-2 on the season, 0-1 in Patriot League action, while Holy Cross improves to 4-2 overall, and 2-0 in league play.
The game-changing drive came late in the fourth quarter, when Holy Cross faced a crucial third down, but was able to convert as senior Steve Silva leaped over a Lehigh player, and dove to the first-down marker to convert. Senior quarterback John O’Neil then went to the air, connecting with senior Sean Gruber on a 34-yard touchdown pass. Gruber and Lehigh defensive back Andrew Nelson both had a hand on the ball, but it was Gruber coming down with it, putting the Crusaders up by a 13-10 count with 4:34 left in the game. The Mountain Hawks would get the ball back two more times, but were unable to hold onto it, fumbling on both drives. Holy Cross then took a knee and ran the clock out en route to ending Lehigh’s Patriot League opening game winning streak, which had been at seven.
Lehigh got on the board first when Justin Musiek booted a 23-yard field goal with 6:55 left in the first quarter to put the Mountain Hawks ahead 3-0. The ball would switch hands several times for the remainder of the quarter, but due to the soaked conditions, the score remained 3-0 at the end of the first 15 minutes.
As the second quarter began, the two teams continued to keep the ball on the ground, pounding away at each other. The Mountain Hawks did go to the air on several occasions, and scored the first touchdown of the game on a four-yard pass from senior Mark Borda to freshman fullback John Piascik to go in front 10-0 with 8:57 remaining in the half. Lehigh would take that ten point advantage into halftime, as the teams retired into dryer grounds.
For the half, Lehigh out gained its counterpart 176 to 112, with 116 of those yards coming on the ground. Junior Marques Thompson totaled 65 rushing yards, while senior Eric Rath bulled his way to 55. Borda finished the half four of seven for 60 yards, while Crusader signal caller John O’Neil completed ten passes for 64 yards. Time of possession was nearly identical as Lehigh had the ball for 16:53, and Holy Cross held it for 13:07.
After a scoreless third quarter, Holy Cross opened the final period with its first score, as senior Steve Silva fielded a punt and sprinted 66-yards to the end zone, trimming the Lehigh lead to four, at 10-6, with 14:36 remaining in the game. The Mountain Hawks got the ball back, but were forced to punt, giving Holy Cross the ball back on the Lehigh 47-yard line, setting up the Crusaders game-winning drive.
For the game, there were 13 fumbles, with Lehigh losing three of them, as both teams suffered through the sloppy conditions all afternoon long. Rath finished with 141 yards on the ground for Lehigh, while Thompson ended up with 86. Borda threw for 83 yards, and the Mountain Hawks leading receiver was senior Kevin Zebluim who caught three passes for 33 yards. Senior Owen Breininger wound up with 11 tackles, included one for a loss and added a sack, while classmate Anthony Graziani also had 11 tackles.
For Holy Cross, Silva wound up with 38 yards rushing, and 36 yards receiving, while O’Neil threw for 118 yards and added 21 yards on the ground. Chris Nielsen finished with 14 tackles on the day, while Dan Adams added nine and a fumble recovery. Kent Flanders recorded six tackles, and recovered two fumbles for the game.
Lehigh hosts Yale on Alumni Reunion Day on October 15 at Goodman Stadium. Kick-off is set for 1:07 pm.
Photos (c) 2005, Chris Christian/Lehigh Athletics.
EXTRA POINTS … For the second time in three seasons, Lehigh and Holy Cross played during a heavy rainstorm. During the 2002 campaign, the Mountain Hawks and Crusaders met in Worcester, on a cold, rainy afternoon, resulting in a sloppy, muddy tussle, which Lehigh won 21-12 … Next week is the annual Young Alumni Day at Lehigh, and several athletic programs will welcome back their former athletes, with a host of activities scheduled. ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb will host the men’s basketball opening practice, which gets underway at 11:00 inside of Stabler Arena. The baseball team will conduct a homerun derby at Goodman Field, which will begin at 10:00. And the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams will host a pair of Alumni Games, with the women slated to begin at 9:30, and the men slated for a 10:45 start time. Both of those contests will be held on the turf field at the Ulrich Sports Complex.