In a season with excruciating losses, it was certainly fitting that Lehigh would have the ball under two minutes to go with yet another chance to win a game just to fall short.
Yet just like the other four excruciating close losses this year, the nuts and bolts of the defeat came long before the fateful moment.
"It just came down to that we made too many mistakes," coach Coen said after the game. "Obviously extra points, you've got to start right there. That obviously hurts; that changes the flow of the football game. Penalties in the first half, turnovers in the first half, giving them the ball on a short field. You can't make mistakes like that, and we've been making too many of them during the course of the season. You add them up in one point games, and it's tough."
What was equally as frustrating - if not more so - was that for four quarters, Lehigh hung strong with the 24th-ranked team in the country.
Rallying from a 21-6 second-quarter deficit, the Mountain Hawks showed a lot of toughness after rattling off 27 straight points to take a 33-21 lead. Keeping in mind that senior RB Matt McGowan was on the sideline in street clothes with an ankle injury, sophomore QB J.B. Clark found senior WR Sekou Yansane for a 27 yard touchdown pass over the middle and threaded the needle for another 58 yard completion that set up a 6 yard touchdown run by senior FB Adam Watson to cut the deficit to one by halftime.
Coming out from halftime, Lehigh played their best football of the year. After stuffing Colgate on their first drive with senior DL Brian Jackson and senior DB Brendan VanAckeren stopping Colgate QB Greg Sullivan six yards short of the sticks, Clark, Watson and the Lehigh offense went right at the Raider defense, keeping them off balance with big runs and setting up two big touchdown passes to senior WR Mike "Cris Carter" Fitzgerald, one of 23 yards and another of 39 yards where he beat his man perfectly and came down with the grab.
"When they had [Watson] running, that's when I thought they really had us off balance," Colgate head coach Dick Biddle said. "That's what concerns me more than anything when people can run the ball against us."
After the second Fitzgerald TD, Colgate responded with what could have been a championship-saving drive. Starting on their own 27, the Raiders kept after the run and used the ground game to embark on a 9 play, 73 yard drive. Sullivan threw a ball up for grabs in the end zone between two defenders, and 6'6 WR Pat Simonds found a way to come down with the ball in a play where it looked like senior DB Quadir Carter may have come down with the ball at the same time.
"We felt like if we could get it to one score that we'd have a chance," Biddle said. "We've done that a lot. We've won four or five games on the last drive. Our kids believe they can do it. This is a tough football team that hangs in there."
Lehigh wouldn't score a point the rest of the way. Lehigh's best chance to score came after their first drive of the 4th quarter stalled on the 25 yard line and senior P/K Jason Leo's 45 yard kick would have plenty of leg, but would sail wide right.
The defense would hold Colgate to a punt, but rather than let a Jacob Stein punt dribble into the end zone, an attempted return was muffed. Lehigh recovered, but started a drive at the 5 yard line that went nowhere.
After Lehigh's punt to the 47 yard line, Colgate again embarked on the type of drive they've been thriving with all year. Sticking with the gameplan that got them there, they mixed the pass and run well. With a 3rd-and-5 from the Lehigh 7 yard line, Sullivan found Simonds in the end zone on an inside slant, getting the ball past the one-on-one pass coverage by a Lehigh linebacker.
If there was ever a game to sum up a frustrating 2008 for the Mountain Hawks, it would be without a doubt this one, the sixth loss on the Lehigh football season in nine games.
A boatload of young talent, clearly able to play sixty minutes with some of the best teams in the country.
But not consistent enough to clean up the mistakes that championship teams - and Rivarly-winning teams - don't make. If there's one thing I'm hoping for, it's that in the last two important games of the year, this team will learn how to do clean up those mistakes.