Posted: October 4, 2008
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – With Lehigh and Cornell swapping the lead back and forth throughout the final quarter at Goodman Stadium on Saturday, it was all about who had the ball last. Cornell quarterback Nathan Ford was the last player to take a snap from the Lehigh 20 yard line, and he made it count by throwing a touchdown pass to Jesse Baker for the 25-24 victory in front of 10,460 fans.
"Obviously a really tough loss; another game that came down to the very last play," Lehigh head coach Andy Coen said afterwards. "I thought our kids competed hard; we just need to find a way to come up with the play or plays to put us into position to win this game."
"We knew Cornell was a good team, I give them a lot of credit. They (Cornell) came in with a completely different gameplan on offense, they were able to throw the ball around quite a bit on offense which was disappointing to see from my end."
Saturday marked the second-straight week the Mountain Hawks were defeated on the final play of the game, after Princeton earned a 10-7 victory on a field goal as time expired on September 27.
The Big Red had to earn the final touchdown with a 17-play, 78-yard drive for the game-winning score. Cornell had to convert on three fourth-down situations in its final possession, including the final play, which came on fourth and six.
Cornell gained 472 of its 493 yards through the air, as the Big Red completed 40-64 passes on the day. Ford was 39-63, with 438 yards passing, three interceptions and two touchdowns.
Lehigh quarterback J.B. Clark had the most impressive statistical game of his young career, with 264 yards through the air on 24-35 passing. He added a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown and did not throw any interceptions.
In a game dominated by defense and special teams for three quarters, both offenses exploded in the final quarter, scoring two touchdowns each on the final four drives.
Lehigh scored first in the fourth quarter on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Clark to Mike Fitzgerald, which gave the Mountain Hawks an 18-13 lead after the failed two-point conversion attempt. Cornell dropped two safeties into coverage deep, but Fitzgerald found the crease between them and caught the wide open pass for the big play.
Cornell answered less than two minutes later with a five-play, 64-yard touchdown drive. Ford did his own job of splitting the defense with a pass over the middle to Baker for the 15-yard touchdown. Another failed two-point attempt left the score at 19-18 in favor of the Big Red.
Clark led the Mountain Hawks immediately down the field for a 10-play drive that spanned 73 yards in 4:17. Clark finished the drive himself with a 10-yard designed quarterback sweep. He appeared to be stopped behind the line of scrimmage before breaking free down the right sideline for the touchdown to give Lehigh a 24-19 lead.
Both teams relied on their special teams to generate scoring throughout the first half, as each offense struggled to finish off drives early on.
The Mountain Hawks jumped out to an early 6-0 lead on a pair of Jason Leo field goals; the first coming on the opening drive from 35 yards away. When Lehigh’s second possession stalled at the 39 yard line, Leo connected on a career-long 46-yard field goal to double the lead.
The special teams jump started the scoring for the Big Red in the first half as well. After a Brad Greenway field goal from 27 yards pulled Cornell to within three points, the Big Red caught the Mountain Hawks off guard with an onside kick. As the Lehigh return team backed up to block, Greenway placed a perfect kick down the right sideline, and Tim Bax recovered for the Big Red on its own 48-yard line.
Just 10 plays and 52 yards later, Ford punched home the quarterback sneak for the game’s first touchdown, giving Cornell the 10-6 lead.
The Big Red was prepared to run out the clock and take a 10-6 lead into halftime, but Lehigh head coach Andy Coen had different plans. He wanted one more shot for his offense, even though it had only generated 148 yards in the first half, so he called his second timeout with 14 seconds left.
Jarard Cribbs fielded the ensuing punt at the 16-yard line and quickly cut through the Cornell coverage team down the right sideline. Cribbs was off to the races with one man to beat, when classmate Craig Zurn jumped out in front for a block to pave the way for the 84-yard touchdown, making the score 12-10 as time expired in the half.
It was the seventh-longest punt return in Lehigh football history, and the first for the Mountain Hawks since September 29, 2007, when Brannan Thomas ran a 54-yard return back against Harvard.
Lehigh returns to action on Saturday, October 11, when the Mountain Hawks open Patriot League play against defending league champion Fordham at Goodman Stadium. Kick-off is set for 12:30 and tickets can be purchased in one of three ways: by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by visiting the Lehigh Athletics Ticket Office, located in Grace Hall, or by logging onto Lehighsports.com.
EXTRA POINTS ... The two teams combined to attempt three two-point conversions in the fourth quarter, with neither team converting on a single attempt…The attendance for Saturday’s game – 10,460 – marked the first time more than 10,000 fans saw a game at Goodman Stadium that did not involve Lafayette since November 4, 2006, when the Mountain Hawks took on Colgate…The Marshall Wall of Champions, located in Jacobs Pool, was dedicated on Saturday in honor of former swimming head coach and director of the alumni association Chris Marshall '88…The Mistele Pavilion was also dedicated on Saturday in honor of Tom and Joy Mistele, parents of Colin Mistele ’07, a former lacrosse player for Lehigh. The pavilion is located on the Goodman Campus, across from the Ulrich Sports Complex …Fans can catch a replay of Saturday’s game on Sunday, at 12:30 p.m., exclusively on 2 Sports. Service Electric will re-broadcast each televised Lehigh football game – both home and away – the following day on 2 Sports.
Watch the Service Electric Post-Game Show
Photography, 2008 (c) Specialty Photographic