Posted: November 11, 2006
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh clinched at least a share of its Patriot League leading eighth regular season championship with a convincing 45-14 win over Fordham in front of 8,692 in the home finale Saturday at Goodman Stadium. Senior tailback Marques Thompson rushed for 105 yards and accounted for three touchdowns as Lehigh improves to 6-4 overall and 5-0 in league play. The Mountain Hawks can win the league title outright and earn an NCAA playoff berth with a win over archrival Lafayette next Saturday. Fordham falls to 2-8 overall, 0-5 in the Patriot League.
Head coach Andy Coen spoke after the game in the press conference. "Obviously, we’re very excited. The goal this week was to play well. But, we all know there's bigger fish to fry. We really responded well. Our kids knew what was at stake this week. The message at halftime was, 'If (sophomore) Josh (Pastore) doesn't run the kick back, we need to take (control.)" He added, "The defense stepped up today and has been playing very well of late. I'm so proud of the kids to be part of a championship; they have made my job so much easier. I think we've been getting better and better each week, and you're seeing that out on the field."
Fordham received the opening kick-off and drove 82 yards in eight plays and scored the game’s opening points when Mike Melvin caught a tipped pass from John Skelton for a 22 yard touchdown.
The Mountain Hawks would also score on their first offensive possession, marching 58 yards and scoring on a five yard run by senior Marques Thompson. Then, after Lehigh’s defense forced a three and out, senior Frank Trovato set the Mountain Hawks up with great field position after a 37 yard punt return. Lehigh capped a five play drive with a two yard touchdown pass from Sedale Threatt to senior fullback Greg Fay to give the Brown and White a 14-3 lead after one quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Lehigh was again set up with great field position after senior Brannan Thomas picked off a Skelton pass and returned it inside the Fordham 15 yard line. The Mountain Hawks would add to their lead as sophomore Jason Leo kicked a 24 yard field goal to make it 17-3.
Thomas picked off his second pass of the day to end a Fordham drive and then Lehigh drove 81 yards in 10 plays, extending its lead to 24-7 when Threatt hit Thompson on a 26-yard screen pass.
The Rams mounted a late drive before the half, but a poor snap led to a sack and time expired before the field goal unit could set up for an attempt.
Lehigh out gained Fordham 211-148 in the opening 30 minutes. Thompson was Lehigh’s top ball carrier with 70 yards on 13 carries; he added 35 receiving yards on two catches. Threatt was 7-of-12 passing for 89 yards in the opening half.
Thompson capped off Lehigh’s opening drive of the second half with his third touchdown of the day, scampering in from seven yards to cap off a six play, 60 yard drive. The next time the Mountain Hawks touched the ball, they put it in the end zone again, as Threatt connected with senior Frank Trovato on an 18 yard scoring pass to make it 38-7 halfway through the third quarter.
The large lead allowed Lehigh head coach Andy Coen to play his second units for most of the second half. Sophomore Josh Pastore extended Lehigh’s lead to 38 points with a three yard touchdown run with 3:54 to play.
Threatt finished 9-of-14 for 149 yard and three touchdown passes. Trovato was the Mountain Hawks’ leading receiver with three grabs for 38 yards. Lehigh collected nearly 400 yards of total offense on the day.
Lehigh wraps up the regular season next Saturday, as the Mountain Hawks visit rival Lafayette in the 142nd meeting of college football’s most-played rivalry. Kick-off is set for 1:08 pm from Fisher Field in Easton. The contest will be televised on WFMZ-TV, FSN Pittsburgh, FCS Atlantic, and lehighsports.com. Audio coverage can be heard on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 AM and there will be streaming audio and video of the contest online at lehighsports.com with streaming powered by Yahoo! Sports.
EXTRA POINTS… Saturday’s game marked the final regular season game at Goodman Stadium for Lehigh’s 21 seniors… Lehigh held a moment of recognition in the first quarter for all Veterans in attendance on Veterans Day… Sedale Threatt’s second quarter interception was his first since the fourth quarter of the Princeton game, a span of 25 quarters… Lehigh eclipsed the 40 point mark for the first time since a 40-3 triumph at Fordham last season… Thomas is the second Mountain Hawk to intercept two passes in a game this season; junior Ernest Moore picked off two passes versus Princeton on September 16.
Photography 2006 (c), Specialty Photographic.