Posted: 03/08/2012 | Last updated: March 8, 2012 at 02:17 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Coming off a season in which Lehigh captured its league-best tenth Patriot League title and advanced to the FCS quarterfinals, head coach Andy Coen announced the Mountain Hawks’ 2012 football schedule Thursday. The 2012 slate features two games apiece against opponents from the Northeast Conference and Ivy League, a trip to Big South title contender Liberty and six games at picturesque Goodman Stadium.
“We once again will be challenged by a strong schedule as we attempt to win our third consecutive Patriot League Championship,” said Coen. “We begin by playing two of the top programs in the NEC and follow that with a match up against Princeton and a road game against Liberty.”
For the second straight year the Mountain Hawks will open up against the Monmouth Hawks, with this year’s contest set for September 1 at Goodman Stadium. Lehigh has won all three meetings against Monmouth, including last year’s 49-24 victory in New Jersey. The Hawks finished the 2011 season with a 5-6 record. This game will mark Lehigh’s first season-opener at Goodman Stadium since 2009.
Lehigh will travel to New Britain, Conn. the following week for their first road game of the season and second straight against a NEC opponent as the Mountain Hawks will face the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils. CCSU finished last season at 4-7. It will be Lehigh’s first visit to New Britain and the teams’ first matchup since the Blue Devils spoiled Lehigh’s 2009 season opener with a 28-21 win at Goodman Stadium.
On September 15 Lehigh welcomes the Princeton to Goodman Stadium for the Tigers’ season opener. Princeton won just two games a year ago, but the Tigers always present a tough challenge for the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh has won the last two meetings in the series, including a 34-22 road victory at Princeton Stadium last season. The win at Princeton started a ten game winning streak for the Mountain Hawks that extended into the playoffs.
After the Princeton game, the Mountain Hawks will head to Lynchburg, Virginia for the first time since 2004 to face the Flames. The two teams played an epic battle at Goodman Stadium last season with Lehigh coming away with a 27-24 victory. The Mountain Hawks lead the all-time series between the schools, 2-0. The Flames were in the top-25 most of last season and finished with a 7-4 record, falling just short of a playoff berth.
“I really thought the win over Liberty jump started our season last year,” Coen said. “That will likely be a night game and will be a very tough challenge for our team in Lynchburg.”
Lehigh will open a two-game home stand September 29 against the Fordham Rams. It will also be the team’s Patriot League opener. This will be the Rams’ first season under new head coach Joe Moorhead. Lehigh will be seeking its fifth straight victory over the Rams.
The Mountain Hawks will close out their non-league schedule as October begins with a home game against the Columbia Lions. It will be Columbia’s first road game of the season and first game against Lehigh since 1999. The Lions also will be welcoming a new head coach, Pete Mangurian.
“Having new teams on the schedule is always a challenge and Columbia will be in its first year with a new staff,” Coen said. “Fordham will also have new leadership in their program when they visit Goodman this fall.”
Lehigh will travel to Washington, D.C. the following week to face the Georgetown Hoyas. The game will be the team’s first league road game of the season and first of five league games to end the regular season. The Mountain Hawks have clinched the Patriot League title against the Hoyas in each of the last two seasons.
The Mountain Hawks return home to host the Bucknell Bison October 20. Lehigh has defeated Bucknell 14 straight years and will welcome a Bison team that will be looking to build on last season’s 6-5 record.
After its bye week, the Mountain Hawks will head to Worcester, Mass. to face Holy Cross November 5 looking to extend their two-game winning streak against the Crusaders.
On November 10, Lehigh will close out its home schedule against Colgate. Lehigh has also won two straight against Colgate while averaging 44.5 points in those two victories.
Lehigh will close out the regular season with a trip to Easton, Pa. to play the rival Lafayette Leopards in the 148th meeting of college football’s most-played rivalry. The Mountain Hawks have won four straight against the Leopards including a 37-13 victory at Goodman Stadium last season.
“As we all know the league games are very competitive,” Coen said. “As defending back-to-back champions we know we will get every teams best shot. I can't wait for spring ball to kick off so we can begin our work in earnest to try and claim our 11th title.”
Season ticket renewals will be sent out in mid-May, while new season tickets will go on sale in early June. Lehigh will begin its spring practice segment on Friday, March 23. The annual Brown and White Spring Game is set for April 21 at 10 a.m.