BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Behind a dominating performance on both sides of the ball, No. 6/6 Lehigh defeated Lafayette 37-13 on Saturday afternoon in front of 16,013 fans at Goodman Stadium in the 147th meeting between the schools. The victory was Lehigh’s fourth straight over Lafayette as the Mountain Hawks finished their Patriot League slate undefeated for the second year in a row.
“We came out today and played with a lot of passion and emotion,” said head coach Andy Coen. “The execution on defense was excellent the whole game and offensively, we made all of the plays that we needed in order to come out with the victory.”
Lehigh led 17-0 at the half and then scored 20 points in the third quarter for 37 unanswered to put the game away. The Mountain Hawks finished the game with 428 yards of total offense led by Chris Lum who was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. The senior quarterback was 20-of-35 for 279 yards and touch touchdowns (one passing, one rushing). Lum now holds the Lehigh single-season records for completions and passing yards, while he tied the touchdown record.
Junior Ryan Spadola had five catches for 116 yards as he is now the Patriot League’s single-season leader in receiving yards. Sophomore running back Keith Sherman had five carries for 75 yards and a touchdown.
While the offense moved the ball at will, Lehigh’s defensive group shut down the Leopards as the Mountain Hawks forced six fumbles, recovering three of them, and added an interception.
Lehigh won the toss and deferred to Lafayette who received the ball to start the game. And on the third play, sophomore Courtney Jarvis picked off Leopards’ quarterback Andrew Shoop as the Mountain Hawks took over on their own 29-yard line. On the first play after the turnover, Lum found Mark Wickware on a pass at the 50-yard line but Lehigh’s drive stalled at midfield. Then Lafayette’s Carl Knowles partially blocked Tim Divers’ punt as the Leopards took over on their own 33-yard line with 12:24 to go in the first quarter.
After Lafayette picked up a first down, Lehigh’s defense forced a punt as Ethan Swerdlow's kick rolled to the Lehigh two-yard line where the Mountain Hawks took over with 8:53 left in the first quarter as the battle for field position began.
After the Mountain Hawks went three-and-out, Divers boomed a 58-yard punt and with a Lafayette penalty tacked on, the Leopards were back on their own 24-yard line.
The teams traded punts until Lehigh finally broke through late in the first quarter. After the Mountain Hawks picked up a first down at their own 48-yard line, Sherman took it to the house on the very next play, scampering 52 yards to put Lehigh up 7-0 with 1:55 to go in the first quarter. It marked the longest run of the season for Lehigh.
The Mountain Hawks began the second quarter with a 7-0 lead and the ball as they reached Lafayette’s 40-yard line. Forced to punt, Divers had another great kick to pin Lafayette back to its three-yard line.
After the Leopards were unable to get anything going, Lehigh had the ball in great field position at Lafayette’s 40-yard line. Lum then found Spadola on a 17-yard pass but the Mountain Hawks’ drive halted there as Divers nailed a 30-yard field goal to put Lehigh ahead, 10-0, with 9:13 to go in the half.
Lehigh then got the ball back a couple minutes later and put together a seven-play, 56-yard drive capped off by a three-yard touchdown pass from Lum to sophomore Zach Hayden to put Lehigh ahead, 17-0, with 3:51 until halftime.
Then with 1:13 to go, Lehigh was looking to put together another drive, but couldn’t get anything going. Divers shanked the ensuing punt which went just six yards as Lafayette took over on Lehigh’s 31-yard line. But the Leopards were unable to take advantage as Austin O’Brien missed a 41-yard field goal wide left before halftime.
Lehigh had 239 yards of total offense at the half to Lafayette’s 87 including just 45 passing yards. The Leopards actually had a few minutes more of possession time, but were 1-for-8 on third downs and didn’t get in the redzone while Lehigh was 2-for-2 on redzone chances.
Out of halftime, Lehigh put together an eight-play, 65 yard drive that took up 2:12 on the clock and ended in a16-yard rushing touchdown from senior Matt Fitz to put Lehigh ahead 24-0.
Then one minute and 43 seconds later, senior Fed Mihal caused a Mark Ross fumble as senior Colin Newton scooped it up and took the distance for a 46-yard touchdown return as Lehigh was quickly up 30-0 after a missed PAT.
On the ensuing Lafayette drive, junior Tom Bianchi forced another Lafayette fumble as junior Sajjad Chagani recovered to give the ball back to Lehigh. On the very next play, Lum found Spadola for a 50-yard pass which gave Spadola the Patriot League record.
Lum finished off the five-play, 55-yard drive with a four-yard rushing touchdown to extend Lehigh’s lead to 37-0 with 7:52 remaining in the third quarter.
Lehigh got the ball back again after O’Neil couldn’t handle the snap and senior Tanner Rivas recovered with 5:37 to go in the third quarter. The Mountain Hawks drove the ball deep into Lafayette territory, but Lum was intercepted on the five-yard line for his lone blunder of the game.
Lafayette took advantage as it used a 12-play, 71-yard drive over 4:43 to get on the board after O’Neil found Hall in the endzone for a 16-yard touchdown pass at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
The Leopards tacked on another score with 3:28 left in the game. Alan Elder rushed for a one-yard touchdown to finish off a 12-play, 91-yard drive. After a missed PAT, Lehigh led 37-13 which proved to be the final.
Lehigh finished with 428 total yards (285 passing, 143 rushing) to Lafayette's 259 (187, 72).
The Mountain Hawks’ win over Georgetown last week secured Lehigh’s ninth FCS playoff berth and second in as many years. Lehigh’s win over the Hoyas marked the fifth time the Mountain Hawks clinched an NCAA playoff berth the week prior to facing arch rival Lafayette. Lehigh now owns a 5-0 record against the Leopards in games following the clinching of an FCS playoff berth.
The Mountain Hawks now look ahead to the NCAA Playoffs, set to begin next weekend. They will find out their opponent during Sunday morning’s NCAA Selection Show at 10 a.m. on ESPNU.
EXTRA POINTS: Lehigh won the giving challenge over Lafayette 2,529 gifts to 2,074 … Yale-Princeton is college football's second most-played rivalry with 134 games … The total fixed attendance at Goodman Stadium is 14,324 and with grass and standing room is 16,000 … Seniors Shane Ryan and Mike Groome led the defense with eight tackles each … Lehigh defeated Lafayette for the fourth consecutive season for the first time since the Brown and White won seven straight meetings from 1995-2001 … The Mountain Hawks posted their ninth ten-win season in school history … Lehigh went undefeated in the Patriot League in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2000 and 2001.