DURHAM, N.H. – Lehigh had its hands full with No. 16/18 New Hampshire on Saturday and the host Wildcats racked up over 500 yards of total offense in a 31-10 win over the Mountain Hawks at Cowell Stadium. The Lehigh defense forced three turnovers, recorded three sacks and gave the offense numerous possessions in UNH territory but the Mountain Hawks were only able to muster ten points on the day.
On a hot, humid late September afternoon in the Granite State, New Hampshire quarterback R.J. Toman threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Wildcats, who evened their record at 2-2 on the season. Lehigh goes into its bye week at 2-2 with the loss.
New Hampshire quarterback R.J. Toman threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Wildcats, who evened their record at 2-2 on the season. Lehigh goes into its bye week at 2-2 with the loss.
"We knew we were playing a very good football team here, one that’s traditionally top teams in FCS football," said Lehigh head coach Andy Coen. "When you play a team like that you have to take advantage of the opportunities presented to you. They presented a lot of opportunities to us. The defense created turnovers. We had a big kick return on a great individual effort. Offensively, we just weren’t able to take advantage of any of those opportunities with the exception of one. You’re not going to beat many teams when you do those things."
The Mountain Hawks gained just 129 yards of offense on the day. Sophomore Mike Colvin made his first career start at quarterback and finished 10-of-28 for 69 yards and three interceptions.
The Wildcats received the opening kickoff and moved the ball deep into Lehigh territory, but senior Al Pierce sacked quarterback R.J. Toman on third down to force a 37-yard field goal attempt, which Mike MacArthur converted to put New Hampshire up 3-0 early in the first quarter.
Lehigh was forced to punt on its first possession, but junior Alex Smith pinned the Wildcats at their own two yard line. Following a three-and-out the Mountain Hawks got the ball back in UNH territory and sophomore Jake Peery booted a 42-yard field goal to tie the game at three with 5:34 remaining.
It took just three plays for UNH to go back in front. Toman opened the drive with a 51-yard pass to Kevon Mason and two plays later found Joey Orlando in the back corner of the end zone for a one-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats a 10-3 advantage.
The game’s first turnover allowed Lehigh to tie the game again early in the second quarter. Sophomore Bryan Andrews recovered a Wildcat fumble in UNH territory and sophomore Jay Campbell scored on an 11-yard run, his fourth touchdown of the season, to make the score 10-10.
New Hampshire went in front for the third time with just over ten minutes to play in the half. Toman connected with Terrance Fox on a 21-yard catch-and-run, capping an eight play, 69 yard drive to put the hosts back up 17-10.
Late in the half, the Wildcats extended their lead to 24-10 on Toman’s third touchdown of the game, this one a 14-yarder to Dontra Peters.
The Wildcats held a commanding 292-86 edge in total offense through the first 30 minutes. Colvin was 4-of-13 for 45 yards and an interception in the first half. His top target was sophomore Ryan Spadola, who caught two passes for 26 yards. Campbell was the top ground-gainer with 31 yards on eight rushes.
Toman threw for 209 first-half yards, with 72 going to Fox on five receptions. Peters rushed for 55 yards for UNH to go with his receiving touchdown.
Early in the second half, Lehigh’s defense stopped New Hampshire on downs but the Mountain Hawks were unable to capitalize. UNH added to its lead on Toman’s second touchdown pass of the day to Orlando and fourth overall, a 14-yarder to make it 31-10 Wildcats halfway through the third quarter.
Lehigh struggled to generate consistent offense in the second half, while New Hampshire was limited to just seven points after the break, but the Wildcats converted 60 percent of their third downs (12-of-22), which helped them run out the clock in the fourth quarter.
"I’m not happy with how our football team played today," Coen explained. "The defense created some good things and made some disruptive plays but on third downs we were not very good at all and that allowed a very good football team to stay on the field."
Campbell was the Mountain Hawks’ top rusher on the day with 31 yards, while Colvin and freshman Keith Sherman added 13 apiece. Junior Jake Drwal led the receiving corps with five receptions.
Junior Colin Newton led the defense with eight total tackles, while Andrews added five stops and an interception to go with his fumble recovery.
For UNH Toman completed 26-of-37 passes, including ten for 81 yards and two scores to Orlando. Fox also caught nine balls for a game-high 134 yards. Peters paced the rushing attack with 93 yards on 19 carries.
Lehigh will have its bye week next Saturday, before returning to action on Saturday, October 2 when the Mountain Hawks host the Fordham Rams. Kickoff is set for just after 12:30 from Goodman Stadium. Tickets can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME or by logging on to Lehighsports.com.
EXTRA POINTS… Peery’s 42-yard first quarter field goal was a career-long… temperatures in Durham reached a record 86 degrees on Saturday afternoon… senior safety John Veniero intercepted his second pass of the season in the third quarter… New Hampshire now leads the all-time series 12-2 and has won the last eight meetings.