Posted: 09/03/2011 | Last updated: September 4, 2011 at 08:58 AM
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - Behind a dominant offensive attack coupled with timely defense, No. 13/15 Lehigh opened its season in style, jumping out to a 42-10 lead before holding off a late Monmouth charge to cruise to a 49-24 win on Saturday. Senior Chris Lum completed 22-of-34 for 346 yards and four touchdowns. Two scores came from junior Ryan Spadola, who caught six balls for 148 yards. Junior Zach Barket also had three touchdowns, two on the ground and one through the air.
Not to be forgotten was senior Jake Drwal, who had eight catches for 117 yards and a highlight-reel touchdown. The Mountain Hawks racked up 529 yards of total offense, with 346 through the air and 183 on the ground.
Lehigh Football at Monmouth
“I’m very pleased that we came away with a win today,” said Lehigh head coach Andy Coen. “First games come with some anxiety for the coaches, but our staff did a great job preparing these guys today. We did a lot of really good things offensively. We were able to generate some big plays. We showed we had the capability to be an explosive offense.
Coen continued, “Defensively, with the exception of the first drive of the game, we played very well. I knew the defense would get their feet underneath them. I wasn’t too concerned after that first drive. We did a lot of good things but we have a whole lot to work on.
Early on, both offenses were effective, especially on third downs. Monmouth received the opening kickoff and drove 72 yards in 14 plays, aided by four third-down conversions. Pete Nagy opened the scoring with a two-yard touchdown run to put the Hawks in front.
On Lehigh’s first possession, Lum hit Spadola for 26 yards on third down to keep the drive going. Junior tailback Zach Barket capped the 12-play drive with a four-yard touchdown run. Jake Peery’s extra point tied the game at seven with 2:53 remaining in the first.
The Mountain Hawks took their first lead on the first play of their second offensive possession. Lum found a streaking Spadola down the far sideline for a 72-yard touchdown to give Lehigh a 14-7 advantage just 29 seconds into the second quarter.
Lehigh made it three touchdowns in its first three possessions, capped off by Barket’s second touchdown of the half. This time, it was via the air as he took a screen pass and scampered 32 yards into the end zone to make it 21-7 with 9:34 left in the second.
Monmouth had one last chance to score in the final seconds of the first half but Eric Spillane missed a 46 yard field goal as time expired.
Lehigh out-gained Monmouth 249-145 in the first half. Lum finished the first 30 minutes 14-of-20 passing for 216 yards and the two touchdowns. Spadola was the top target with five grabs for 125 yards while Barket rushed ten times for 30 yards and caught two passes for 28.
Lum made his first mistake on Lehigh’s first drive of the third quarter as his errant pass was picked off by Monmouth’s Elijah Phillips. After eight plays Eric Spillane booted a 30-yard field goal to make the score 21-10 Lehigh.
Barket was back at it on Lehigh’s next possession as he found daylight on a draw play and raced down the left sideline for his third touchdown of the day, a 29-yard score to extend Lehigh’s lead to 25 points with 5:09 left in the third quarter.
Lum’s fourth touchdown pass came on the first play of the fourth quarter as he floated a 21-yard pass that Drwal reeled in with one hand, capping an eight-play, 91-yard drive that was prolonged by a roughing the kicker penalty on Monmouth. That made it 42-10 with 14:52 to go in the fourth.
Monmouth took advantage of a Mountain Hawks’ turnover, finishing a three play, 30 yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run to make it a 42-17 game with 6:03 remaining in the fourth.
The Hawks made it two in a run via another three-play drive. Julian Hayes had a five-yard touchdown run to make it 42-24 with 3:20 on the clock. Lehigh stopped the Monmouth run as junior Marcus Dorm evil raced 47 yards for his first collegiate touchdown to make the score 49-24 with just over a minute remaining.
Dormevil finished with 65 yards on five rushes, and added 147 yards on five kickoff returns. Barket led the Mountain Hawks on the ground, with 80 yards on 13 carries. Senior Mike Groome led the Lehigh defense with ten tackles.
Monmouth’s Kyle Frazier finished 22-of-39 passing for 225 yards, one touchdown and one interception and was the top ground-gainer with 28 yards on 11 rushes. Tyler George caught eight passes for 72 yards.
The Mountain Hawks will return to action next Saturday when they open their home schedule against the tenth-ranked New Hampshire Wildcats. Kickoff is set for just after 12:30 p.m. on Community Day at Goodman Stadium and tickets can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by visiting the Lehigh ticket office, located in Grace Hall or by logging on to Lehighsports.com.
EXTRA POINTS… Lehigh won back-to-back season-openers for the first time under Andy Coen… Coen picked up his first win over a NEC opponent… Lehigh is now 3-0 all-time versus Monmouth… Peery connected on all seven of his extra point attempts and averaged 60.2 yards per kickoff with one touchback… Lum’s 72 yard touchdown pass to Spadola was the longest by Lehigh since J.B. Clark connected with Sekou Yansane for an 85 yard score in the 2008 season opener versus Drake… a crowd of 3265 took in Saturday’s game on a warm sun-splashed afternoon…Lehigh’s 529 total yards were its most since gaining 517 versus Fordham in 2005.