Posted: 10/15/2011 | Last updated: October 15, 2011 at 06:02 PM
BRONX, N.Y. – Behind yet another stellar performance from senior quarterback Chris Lum and a 200+ yard receiving game from junior Ryan Spadola, the Lehigh football team broke open a 20-12 game with two straight touchdowns to down Fordham, 34-12, on a windy Saturday afternoon at Jack Coffey Field. The Rams connected on a long touchdown pass early in the third quarter to pull within eight, but No. 8/9 Lehigh (6-1) quickly erased any doubt, eclipsing 30 points for the third straight game and sixth time this season.
“I’m very pleased to get out of Fordham with a win today,” explained Lehigh head coach Andy Coen. “It was a very physical game as evidenced by all the guys who went down on both sides. Fordham is a good, young football team. This was a quality win for us.”
Lum finished 32-of-47 for a career-high 413 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Thirteen of those completions went to Spadola, who finished with 216 yards and a touchdown. Senior Jake Drwal also made six catches for 94 yards and a TD while junior Zach Barket had 18 carries for 111 yards. Senior Matt Fitz carried eight times for 43 yards and a touchdown while also making four receptions for 43 yards.
In total, the Mountain Hawks racked up a whopping 598 yards of total offense, 416 through the air and 182 on the ground. Lehigh held Fordham to 334 yards, 253 passing and 81 rushing.
“Offensively we moved the ball well,” Coen said. “We moved the ball every time we had it. We were looking to get some big plays early, but Fordham did a good job taking those away, but that opened up the run game for us and we were able to run a little better than we had coming in.”
Leading the defensive effort was senior Mike Groome, who had two interceptions. Senior Jonathan Littlejohn also had a pick while senior Andrew Knapp had a sack and forced fumble.
“We had some turnovers,” Coen said. “But we were also able to create some turnovers, which we hadn’t done much of over the last couple of weeks.”
The Mountain Hawks received the opening kickoff and put together a 14-play drive. Lehigh was helped by a Fordham pass interference penalty and then junior Mike Colvin came on to run for a first down on fourth and one. The drive stalled inside the Rams 10 yard line and sophomore Tim Divers came on to kick a 22-yard field goal to put Lehigh on the scoreboard.
Lehigh’s defense limited Fordham to a three-and-out on its first possession. A punt pinned Lehigh back at its own five yard line but the Mountain Hawks drove 95 yards in 11 plays. On third down, Lum dropped back to pass, escaped a sack ten yards in the backfield, rolled left and hit Drwal down the far sideline for a 17-yard touchdown to give the Brown and White a ten point advantage.
Fordham put its first points on the scoreboard late in the first quarter as Divers’ punt was blocked and rolled out of the end zone for a safety, making the score 10-2 Lehigh after one quarter of play. Following Lehigh’s free kick, the Rams drove 30 yards in ten plays and crept within five on a 37-yard Michael Marando field goal early in the second quarter.
Lehigh’s offense answered the Fordham field goal with another touchdown, as Lum led the Mountain Hawks 80 yards in nine plays and connected with sophomore Zach Hayden for a two-yard touchdown to extend Lehigh’s lead to 17-5 with 8:47 remaining in the second.
Offensively, Lehigh continued to move the ball down the field, only to see drives sputter in Ram territory. Divers missed a 31-yard field goal, but in the final seconds of the half, booted a career-long 36 yarder to give the Mountain Hawks a 20-5 lead at the break.
Lum finished the first half 24-of-36 for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Spadola was his top target with eight catches for 78 yards. Barket paced the ground game with 74 yards on ten carries. Lehigh out-gained Fordham 335-139 in the first 30 minutes of play.
Lehigh’s defense stepped up on the opening play of the second half as Griffin Murphy was intercepted by Littlejohn, who returned the ball into Rams territory. The Mountain Hawks moved the ball inside Fordham’s five yard line but Lum attempted a fade into the end zone that was picked off by Ian Williams.
Fordham capitalized on the interception as Ryan Higgins hit Greg Wilson for an 82 yard touchdown to cut the Mountain Hawks’ lead to eight, just 4:41 into the second half.
Once again, the Mountain Hawks were able to respond after giving up a score as they went 82 yards in six plays. Lum and Spadola set Lehigh up with a 50-yard connection into Ram territory. Fitz then ran it into the end zone from four yards out to re-establish a 15-point lead at 27-12.
Lum and Spadola padded their numbers as Lehigh extended its lead on the final play of the third quarter, connecting on a 62-yard bomb to give the Mountain Hawks a 34-12 lead after three quarters.
The fourth quarter came and went without a score as each side had an interception along with three punts between the two sides.
“Last night we talked about playing like a team,” Coen said. “I think that’s why we’re playing at a high level right now, because we do play as a team. The guys pick each other up. They stay together. I’m happy with our team coming in and getting this win and now we’re 6-1 heading into the bye week.”
Lehigh will have its bye week next Saturday, before returning to action on Saturday, Oct. 29 when the Mountain Hawks travel to Hamilton, N.Y. to face the Colgate Raiders in a game that will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network. Game time is set for noon from Andy Kerr Stadium.
EXTRA POINTS… Lehigh wore its alternate brown road pants for the second time this season… Lum has now thrown at least two touchdown passes in 15 of his last 16 games… He also eclipsed the 300-yard mark for the seventh time in as many games this season and eighth straight game dating back to last year…Spadola now has 100-plus yards receiving in six of Lehigh’s seven games this year… He also surpassed the 1,000 yard receiving mark for the season… Members of the Mountain Hawks wore pink shoelaces to promote breast cancer awareness… Lehigh had its highest offensive output since gaining 604 total yards versus Georgetown in 2002…the Mountain Hawks had their most first downs (32) since 1999 and their most total plays (90) since 2005.