Posted: September 29, 2007
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Junior Paul Bode returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown with 30 seconds remaining to lift Lehigh to a 20-13 win over Harvard on Community Day at Goodman Stadium. The Mountain Hawks and Crimson appeared headed for overtime, but junior Tim Diamond forced Harvard backup quarterback Chris Pizzotti to throw a backwards pass, which Bode returned for his second career score. Despite not scoring an offensive touchdown, Lehigh picked up its third straight win and improves to 3-1 on the season, while Harvard falls to 1-2.
"I want to start by saying how proud I am of this team," Lehigh head coach Andy Coen said in the post-game press conference. "Everyone knows it wasn't pretty for us offensively, but there's no such thing as a bad win. I just can't enough about our defense. Special teams was also huge." He added, "My hat goes off to these kids for never giving up."
Special teams set the tone for Lehigh early in the first quarter. Freshman John Kennedy returned the opening kickoff 45 yards to midfield. The Mountain Hawks went three and out on offense, but a strong punt from junior Jason Leo pinned Harvard at its 10 yard line. After the Crimson went three and out, senior captain Brannan Thomas fielded the punt, broke several tackles and raced 54 yards for a touchdown, to put the Mountain Hawks up 7-0.
The Crimson answered Lehigh’s score by marching 49 yards in 14 plays. Patrick Long kicked a 27-yard field goal to make it 7-3 with just over five minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
On Lehigh’s ensuing drive, Leo booted a 29 yard field goal, to extend Lehigh’s lead back to seven. Early in the second quarter, Leo added a 40 yard field goal, which increased Lehigh’s lead to 13-3.
Right before the half, Harvard drove inside the Lehigh five yard line, but the Mountain Hawks limited the Crimson to a field goal attempt, which Long converted to make it 13-6 Lehigh at the break.
Lehigh was out gained offensively 131-91 in the opening half. Senior quarterback Sedale Threat finished 7-of-11 for 73 yards in the first half. Junior Josh Pastore carried five times for 21 yards and also caught three passes for 28 yards, as he returned to the line-up after missing the last two games.
Late in the third quarter, Harvard capitalized on a Lehigh turnover deep in Crimson territory. Pizzotti led the Crimson on an eight play, 96 yard drive, and Harvard tied the game at 13 when he connected with Matt Luft on a 37 yard scoring pass.
The teams traded possessions in the fourth quarter, with neither team able to muster offense until the final minutes. Harvard looked to take the lead with a 27 yard field goal attempt, but sophomore Heath Brickner blocked the kick. The Mountain Hawks went three-and out, but two plays after the punt, Diamond forced the fumble, and Bode ran it in for the winning score.
Harvard had one last drive to try and tie the game, but after executing a hook and ladder play, wide receiver Mike Cook inexplicably attempted a second lateral, but with no Crimson player around, Diamond recovered the ball with four seconds remaining to ice the win for the Brown and White.
Lehigh picked up the win, despite being out gained 465-232. Threatt finished 12-of-27 for 176 yards. Pastore ran nine times for 42 yards and was the leading receiver with his three first-half grabs. Pizzotti was 15-of-24 for 178 yards and a touchdown for the Crimson, while Jason Miller caught six passes for 82 yards. The Crimson had a commanding 17 minute advantage in time of possession, and preventing Lehigh from converting a third down all day long.
The Mountain Hawks will return to the gridiron next Saturday when they open Patriot League play at Fordham. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. from Jack Coffey Field in the Bronx, N.Y. The game will be broadcast on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 as well as online at Lehighsports.com, beginning at noon. Streaming audio is provided by Yahoo! Sports.
EXTRA POINTS... Members of Lehigh’s 1977 National Championship team were honored at halftime… among those in attendance was Murray H. Goodman ’48, whose vision and belief in the educational mission of Athletics and its role in shaping future leaders helped create Goodman Stadium and the Goodman Campus…Thomas’ punt return touchdown was the first for a Lehigh player since Frank Trovato ran one back 57 versus Villanova last season… Harvard was the first Lehigh opponent to run over 90 plays since Hofstra in the 2001 NCAA Playoffs ... Diamond's game-high 22 tackles were the most by a Lehigh player since Sam Brinley recorded 22 in a 21-14 loss to Bucknell on November 1, 1997.
Photography, 2007 (c) Specialty Photographic.