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Lehigh 24, Harvard 27, final

Normally, I love being right with my score predictions.

But I would have gladly taken back my prediction had it allowed Lehigh to come away with the win here.

And it was firmly within Lehigh's grasp today. Though Lehigh was down the entire game, they battled and battled and seemed on the verge of a stunning comeback, setting up on Harvard's doorstep with just about a minute to play. In a physical, bruising battle, it looked like maybe Lehigh's penchant for fourth-quarter nailbiters might actually be to the Mountain Hawks' advantage.

It looked for all practical purposes that this game would be over early, after a miscommunication in the first quarter resulted in a fumble and recovery by Harvard DE Matthew Hanson. Lehigh's gift was quickly converted into points with Harvard QB Chris Pizzotti connecting with WR Matt Luft (two Harvard players that could very well find themselves playing on Sundays) with a beautiful 26 yard fade pattern in the left corner of the end zone. The NESN announcers said that it was the first time Lehigh had given up first-quarter points all year.

After an exchange of field goals early in the second quarter, sophomore QB J.B. Clark rifled a pass over the middle that was tipped in the air and somehow found the hands of Harvard LB Glenn Dorris, who quickly ran down the right side for a touchdown.

Down 17-3, some teams might have gotten way down on themselves - but not Lehigh.

After starting the game 2-for-10 passing with the tipped interception, Clark then led Lehigh on a 80 yard drive, with key hits to senior WR Sekou "Stunt Man" Yansane, and finishing with a 21 yard touchdown strike to senior WR Mike "Cris Carter" Fitzgerald to cut the lead to 17-10.

In that drive, Lehigh said that they weren't going away against a big, tough, talented and physical Harvard team.

There were a lot of Mountain Hawks that had to be helped off the turf today. Senior DL Paul Bode limped off the field and wouldn't return. Junior LB Al Pierce exited the game. Sophmore DB/RS John "Fear Itself" Kennedy would be shaken up, but would return. So would sophomore OL William Rackley. Cris Carter, I mean Fitzgerald, took a massive hit as well but would return.

But in the second half, the defense, led by heroic efforts from senior SS Quadir Carter, and junior LB Matt Cohen, would hold the Crimson offense to only 3 points. Sacks by Cohen, senior LB Tim Diamond and junior LB Troy Taylor all came in the second half, driving Harvard back and giving Lehigh's offense a chance to win this thing.

Senior RB Matt McGowan kept Lehigh alive by doing what no back has done against Harvard in 31 tries: have a running back gain 100 yards against them. "Stunt Man" Yansane catches a 7 yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 7. Harvard ekes out a field goal, and after a missed 44 yard field goal attempt, it looked all but over when Harvard had the ball inside the red zone - but sophomore DB Caey Eldemire came up with a big-time interception - against Luft, Harvard's best receiver. After a 28 yard return by Eldemire and 15 yards tacked onto in, Clark finally found Cris Carter, I mean Fitzgerald, for another TD pass- this one a 9 yard strike - to cut the deficit to three.

After a fantastic defensive stand and a poor punt, Lehigh had momentum and were driving for the winning score.

But Harvard had two punches left in them, and connected to Lehigh's midsection on both of them.

Clark found "Stunt Man" Yansane in the left corner of the end zone, threw the perfect pass, and Yansane had his hands on it.. but Harvard DB Drew Berry somehow worked his hand in, wrenched the ball out of Yansane's hands, and at the same time drove him into the turf, ringing his bell and forcing him out of the play. It was the game-winning touchdown - but instead was an incomplete pass.

Then, disaster. On what looked like a designed run, Clark tried to tuck the ball but a Harvard defender made one last punch at the ball as he ran - and knocking it loose from Clark into the hands of Harvard linebacker Glenn Dorris.

Fumble - or interception - it didn't matter. Game over. Harvard 27, Lehigh 24.

There's no such thing as a good loss, and this one would be Lehigh's third excruciating loss on the year. But this one didn't feel like the Princeton or Cornell losses. In those games, Lehigh left many opportunities out on the field. In this game, there were fewer opportunities - but Lehigh made things happen.

To me - admittedly an optimist - there can be a lot of positives to take out of this game going into Patriot League play. There were a lot of great individual performances. Great plays. Great effort.

But it's still a loss - another punch to the gut. And the third game this year in the closing two minutes where Lehigh couldn't make a play to win the game.


Anonymous said…
Here's the bottom line. Lehigh is seven points from being 5-1, wit5h their only talent level loss coming to one of the best 1AA teams in the nation. Clark has gotten a whole lot better and so has Coach Coen. The play calling and game plan in the last three games have been superb. Once Lehigh stops shooting themselves in the foot, missed pat's, missed field goals, not protecting the ball with your life when you are within a tie and a forced overtime minimally with the best team in the Ivy and the multitude of inopportune turnovers, we all may be pleasantly surprised. Obviously there wasn't much to complain about because the boo birds haven't shown up to mf the team and coach as they love to do. Excellent hard fought games the last three weeks and the team is better, alot better and so is the coach.
Anonymous said…
I'm sure the alumni boosters will be happy to consider just how close these games are when lending their vocal and finacial support. Also, I'll bet the current students on campus wil flock to the games in droves just to watch their school lose more close games. Don't worry - there will be no excuses or justifications necessary when Laffayette embarasses them again.
Anonymous said…
I don't think we loose to LC this year, if we do the coach should be asked to pack his bags.

LC just doesn't seem to have the horses that they have had in the past few years, or their injuries are hurting them.

If we loose, it will be simply a matter of being out coached.

The first poster is just trying to make everyone feel better (which isn't a bad thing) but everone will feel better when the win column is higher then the lost column, then those kinds of posts won't even be needed.

My personal opinion is that Harvard had a let down in the second half or possibly took LU lightly the entire game. Give credit to LU for not giving up, but the turnover, mental mistakes etc. are a product of inexperience.

I'm sure given the mentality of the AD he will be willing to wait for another year of excuses instead of having to make a difficult decsion.
Anonymous said…
This LU team now fights and shows a definite sense of purpose on both offense and defense. A HUGE difference from many games of the last few years. McGowan's running has allowed the receiving corps to come into its own this year. The seniors can do it, and I see no reason why we can't run the table of the PL and finally put a beating on Easton Tech.
Doug H said…
I watched the game online and agree that it was a good effort from Lehigh... We basically handed Harvard the game in the first half with 2 turnovers... Other than that big receiver, they had no real offense... Certainly no running game... That's the thing with young talented QB's.... Good one play, mistake another... If JB learns from mistakes, LU could very well run the table in PL... Next week is key with a talented Holy Cross squad who are owed big time from last year's beat down at home
Anonymous said…
How about those Tampa Bay Rays!
Anonymous said…
I was one who used the phrase IF we run the table we can win the PL. An obvious statement and too flippant I guess, but from what I have seen the last couple of weeks, its possible, maybe a 1 in 4chance, but possible. Its the first time in a few years I have had this feeling. None of the 3 top teams are App.State and the best discipline, coaching, a sense of purpose and passion will tip the balance in each of the games. And whatever happens before we venture over to Easton, these seniors will have some bigtime payback on their minds at Fisher Field.

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