BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh football team is well represented as the Patriot League announced its All-League teams and major award winners on Tuesday. The Mountain Hawks placed 11 student-athletes on the All-Patriot League teams, including seven who gained first team recognition. Lehigh’s 11 selections tied Fordham for most in the league.
Senior wide receiver Ryan Spadola led the way for the Mountain Hawks, garnering first team All-Patriot League honors for the third consecutive year. Senior offensive lineman Mike Vuono earned first team honors for the second straight season. Defensively, Lehigh had five first team selections, with senior captains Sajjad Chagani and Billy O’Brien earning first team honors after landing on the second team a year ago. The duo was joined on the first team by three more seniors: defensive lineman Tom Bianchi, linebacker Billy Boyko and cornerback Gabe Johnson, all of whom were recognized for the first time.
Lehigh’s second team selections included senior quarterback Mike Colvin, sophomore offensive lineman Ned Daryoush, senior linebacker Sam Loughery and junior linebacker Nigel Muhammad.
Spadola completed one of the finest careers for a wide receiver in school annals, falling just short of the Lehigh career records for receptions and receiving yards. Despite missing two games with mononucleosis, Spadola led the Mountain Hawks in receiving in 2012, catching 57 passes for 851 yards and four touchdowns. He returned to the lineup with eight catches for 202 yards and two scores against Holy Cross and finishes his career with 232 receptions for 3,611 yards and 24 touchdowns.
The most experienced member of Lehigh’s offensive line, Vuono was recognized for the second straight year after being one of two linemen to start every game. Vuono started six games at right tackle and five games at right guard as the Mountain Hawks’ offensive line ranked among the nation’s leaders in fewest sacks allowed.
Colvin made the most of his only season as the Mountain Hawks starting quarterback on the way to second team honors. A dual threat, Colvin completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 3,108 yards and 19 touchdowns, while also rushing for 479 yards and a team-best 11 scores. Colvin was twice named the league’s Offensive Player of the Week and was voted the Most Valuable Player in Lehigh’s win over Lafayette after throwing for 362 yards and totaling five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing). He is joined on the second team offense by Daryoush, who was the only Lehigh offensive lineman to start all 11 games at the same position. Daryoush took over for All-American Troy McKenna at left tackle and played well, as part of a unit that allowed just seven sacks in 11 games.
Lehigh’s leading tackler in 2012, Boyko leads the list of defensive first team honorees for the Mountain Hawks. Boyko amassed 104 tackles, including a career-high 17 against Holy Cross. He had a sack, three tackles for loss and forced a pair of fumbles. Boyko also made his first career interception against Liberty and ran it back 39 yards for a touchdown. That play, combined with 14 tackles garnered Boyko Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Bianchi and Chagani were two key players for Lehigh along the defensive line who wreaked havoc in opposing backfields. The tandem tied for the team lead with seven sacks apiece, with Bianchi notching ten tackles for loss and Chagani nine. Bianchi and Chagani also combined for 98 tackles in 2012.
Johnson earned the first All-League honor of his career after leading Lehigh’s secondary with 66 tackles. He also had four pass breakups, forced a fumble and recovered two fumbles this season, while making an interception in Lehigh’s win over Columbia. O’Brien added 54 tackles from his safety position, including 5.5 for loss and two sacks.
On the second team defense, Lehigh was represented by Loughery and Muhammad. Loughery missed two games due to injury, but still managed to rank second on the Mountain Hawks in tackles from his inside linebacker position. He finished with 83 stops, including 9.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He also had a pair of pass breakups and made his first career interception against Lafayette en route to being named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week. Muhammad enjoyed a strong first season as a starter at outside linebacker with 76 tackles, including a team-best 4.5 for loss. He ranked third on the Mountain Hawks with 5.5 sacks. Muhammad’s best game was a 4.5 tackle for loss effort in Lehigh’s 17-14 win over Princeton on September 15.
The Mountain Hawks are one of four teams to finish the regular season at 10-1. Lehigh has now posted three consecutive 10 win seasons and owns a 31-6 record (.838 winning percentage) over the last three years.
Colgate quarterback Gavin McCarney was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year, while Georgetown linebacker Robert McCabe earned Defensive Player of the Year honors. Lafayette’s Jamel Smith was selected as the Rookie of the Year, while Colgate’s Dick Biddle earned Coach of the Year honors.
The Patriot League’s Academic Awards for football will be announced later Tuesday.