Posted: October 29, 2005
HAMILTON, N.Y. – Lehigh senior Eric Rath rushed for four touchdowns, and the Lehigh defense clamped down and allowed only seven points in the second half as the Mountain Hawks out-gunned Colgate by a 50-34 score in front of a crowd of 8,921 on a gorgeous late October afternoon at Andy Kerr Stadium. The victory improves 16th-ranked Lehigh’s record to 6-2 overall and 2-1 in the Patriot League. Colgate’s loss – its first at home to a Patriot League team since falling to Lehigh in 2001 – drops the Raiders to 5-3 overall and 2-1 in league play.
“I think the key was that we created turnovers,” said Lehigh head coach Pete Lembo on his team’s second half effort. “We played harder, and brought more pressure in the second half.”
Lehigh’s win, combined with Holy Cross’ loss at Fordham, gives the Mountain Hawks control of their own destiny in the Patriot League race with three games remaining.
Colgate got on the scoreboard first, with a methodical 12-play, 66-yard drive that was capped off by a one-yard score on the ground from quarterback Mike Saraceno. The drive, which chewed 5:57 off the clock, gave the Raiders a quick 7-0 lead.
Lehigh quickly answered, as the Mountain Hawks moved down the field after getting excellent field position. Senior running back Eric Rath scored on a one-yard run of his own to help tie the game at 7-7.
The Raiders did not waste much time in re-gaining the lead. A penalty on the Lehigh kick-off gave Colgate excellent field position, and the home team took advantage. Just 32 seconds after the Mountain Hawks knotted the game at 7, Colgate freshman back Jordan Scott broke free on a 31-yard touchdown run.
The ensuing kick to Lehigh was also an on-side kick attempt, and the Mountain Hawks came up with possession and a penalty to set up a quick score of their own. Threatt found fullback Greg Fay on a 20-yard TD strike, with the extra point tying the score at 14:14 with still 4:14 remaining in the opening period.
A Justin Musiek field goal from the 32-yard line with 1:05 left in the first gave the Mountain Hawks a 17-14 lead after the first quarter of play.
Colgate went back out in front early in the second, as Saraceno broke free for a 35-yard touchdown run just eleven seconds in to the second stanza. The Jacob Stein extra point put the Raiders in front, 21-17.
The see-saw affair continued, as Lehigh went back on top with a two yard run from Rath – his second rushing TD of the afternoon with still 6:44 on the clock in the first half. Late in the quarter, the Raiders went out in front as Saraceno found Kenny Parker on a 25-yard touchdown pass. However, Lehigh’s Julian Ahye blocked the extra point try, keeping the Colgate advantage at three, 27-24 with 1:05 remaining.
Lehigh got the ball back and was forced to punt, but the ball was knocked free and Julian Austin scooped it up, giving the Mountain Hawks another late scoring opportunity. Quarterback Sedale Threatt broke out on a big run, getting the ball down to the six yard line with just one second remaining on the clock. Lehigh turned to Musiek once again, and the junior’s 23-yard field goal attempt was good, tying the game at 27-27 at the end of the first half.
In the opening half, the Lehigh offense was 5-of-5 inside the red zone, with three touchdowns and two field goals.
The Lehigh defense made some halftime adjustments, and the Mountain Hawks came up with stops in Colgate’s first two possessions of the second half. Meanwhile, the offense moved the ball, and the visitors took the lead on a 37-yard field goal from Musiek – his career-best third of the afternoon. Lehigh led by three, 30-27 mid-way through the third.
After Colgate went ahead on a DeWayne Long touchdown run, Lehigh had the opportunity to respond once again. The Mountain Hawks, on fourth and goal from the one yard line to start the fourth, grabbed the lead right back, as Rath leapt high in the air and scored on a run up the middle. The extra point was blocked, and the Lehigh lead was two at 36-34.
Colgate tried again to answer, but Lehigh had other ideas. On third down and four, Lehigh senior Andrew Nelson picked off a Saraceno pass and raced 31-yards for the touchdown. Musiek connected on the extra point, giving the Mountain Hawks a 43-34 lead with 13:25 to play in the fourth. The Nelson pick was Lehigh’s first interception returned for a touchdown in 2005.
“They called my number (a blitz) and I waited for my opportunity. I saw [Saraceno] was throwing the screen. He telegraphed it, and fortunately I was able to make the play,” Nelson said.
Later, on a Colgate third down, Lehigh sophomore Daynin Blake forced a fumble that was picked up by Lehigh senior defensive end Owen Breininger. The Mountain Hawks ran the ball from there, as Rath scored his career-best fourth rushing touchdown – on another one yard run – and the extra point put Lehigh up by 16, 50-34.
In all, the Raiders turned the ball over six times in the second half. Despite allowing a season-high 531 yards of total offense, the Mountain Hawks defense gave up just seven points after halftime.
Threatt finished the day 17-of-30 through the air for 187 yards and a touchdown. He also ran the ball 15 times for 100 yards in the win.
“We had a great week of practice, and we knew in order to be successful we had to play Lehigh football. It all comes down to our execution,” Threatt explained after the game. “This win is nice, but come Sunday, all focus is on Georgetown.”
The Mountain Hawks return to Goodman Stadium next week, as Lehigh hosts Georgetown on Family Weekend. Kick-off is set for just after 12:30 in Bethlehem on Nov. 5, and tickets may be purchased on-line at lehighsports.com, or by calling (610) 7LU-GAME.
EXTRA POINTS … Saturday’s game was part of Family Weekend at Colgate … Game time temperature was 43 degrees under partly cloudy skies … Justin Musiek’s three-field goals on the afternoon marked the first time a Lehigh kicker made three FG’s in a game since Matt Douglas connected on three field goals in each of the first two games in 2003 … Eric Rath’s four touchdown effort marked his third three-or-more-TD rushing effort in 2005 … the 84 combined points equaled the second-most points scored in a single game in the Lehigh-Colgate series. The two squads combined for 89 points in a 1997 Colgate win … Saturday marked Lehigh’s second 50-plus effort in 2005. The Mountain Hawks scored 54 in an opening day win over Monmouth ... Lehigh's road win was its fourth straight away from home.