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Lehigh 45, Fordham 24, Final

I don't think Yuenglings in the Lehigh Valley have tasted this good for Mountain Hawks fans in quite a while.

I mean, are you kidding me? 45 points? Sophomore J.B. Clark? Five touchdowns? Four through the air, and a fifth on the ground? And the 45 points came against last year's Patriot League champions - and the clear preseason favorite to repeat as champions.

Coach Coen's teams have scored 45 points before against opponents in the past two years - once against Georgetown in 2007 (45-0) and another against Fordham in 2006 (45-14). But those were against a 1-10 Hoya team and a 3-8 Ram team respectively. This one was much, much different.

Simply put, it was the offensive explosion that Lehigh fans have been waiting for - against a big-time team.

It didn't seem, at first, that a victory would come easy for Lehigh in this game. After Fordham's opening drive ended with an interception by senior CB Steve Santora, Lehigh's initial offensive drive stalled at the 18 yard line - helped by a false start penalty - meaning that Lehigh had to settle for a 38 yard field goal by senior K Jason Leo. A short field after a shanked Fordham punt led to Clark's first touchdown strike - a 24 yard straight line to senior WR Mike Fitzgerald through the middle - gave Lehigh fans a reason to breathe easier. But when Leo would pull the extra-point right, the scoreboard would read 9-0 - and uncomfortable memories of the Cornell game must have been felt throughout Murray Goodman stadium.

Early in the second quarter, Fordham started a drive on Lehigh's 20 yard line, ending in RB Xavier Martin's run off right tackle into the end zone to cut the deficit to 9-7. On the ensuing drive, after a 43 yard kickoff return by sophomore CB John "Fear Itself" Kennedy, it looked like Lehigh's offense would stall on 4th-and-1 - but on a great trick play, senior RB Matt McGowan looked like on a power sweep off tackle - and then suprised everyone by hucking a ball to senior TE Troy Healion for a huge 34 yard completion - setting up first and goal. The very next play, Clark would find senior WR Nick Johnson for a score, making it 16-7.

I had picked that the final score would be 24-17 - and here it was 23-17 at halftime after a whirlwind second quarter with 31 points between both teams. It felt more like 1998, not 2008.

When Fordham held Lehigh to 3-and-out at the start of the second half, and Fordham converted on a big 66 yard deep out to WR Jason Caldwell, a 7 yard TD pass to WR Asa Lucas put Fordham ahead 24-23.

It would the last points the Rams would score all afternoon. Lehigh would put everything together from that point forward and play their best football of the year so far.

The offense would score the next 22 points on a 7 yard QB run by Clark, a 5 yard TD pass to sophomore WR Craig Zurn, and finishing the scoring with a 3 yard run by McGowan. Coming up big in that drive were three huge third and fourth down conversions - where McGowan's hard running and great push by the 'O' line made key gains. On a 3rd-and-1, it looked like McGowan was short - until the line surged ahead to make it a 3 yard gain.

Defensively, senior DL Brian Jackson would stuff a quarterback sneak on 3rd-and-1 and force a punt attempt. On 3rd-and-3, junior LB Matt Cohen came up with a huge sack to force another punt. on 4th down sophomore CB Jarard Cribbs would nab an interception to effectively seal the game.

On special teams, Fordham tried a fake punt to grab some momentum - which was effectively snuffed out by (who else?) Cohen, for a 5 yard loss. For good measure, Clark completed a two-point conversion to Healion to regain the lost extra point, too.

"It was a great win," an obviously elated and relieved coach Coen told me after the game. "Kids did a great job coming off the last two weeks, they came out and played right from the get-go. Matt [McGowan] ran so hard today. I'm happy for them. We've just got to keep getting better. We're not quite where we want to be, but we're getting better."


Engineer 92 said…
This is the Lehigh team I've been waiting to see. Admittedly, Fordham isn't as strong as the preseason predictions, but it was a good performance by most of the Lehigh team. I think Clark is settling in and making good decisions. If the pass rush and secondary can start getting some containment, Lehigh is going to be extremely tough to stop.

Go Engineers!
Doug H said…
My first live Lehigh game in a couple of years and am I glad I made the effort to come up from Florida for it.. I was explaining to the freshman from my hometown who I visited that this was what Lehigh football was like all the time in past years... I thought the crowd was decent despite the students being on pacing break...

With all the trick plays, future teams will have to aware..

A great fun game to be at and by the way a beautiful day to be at Goodman...
Anonymous said…
Another beautiful day...beautiful company..another lovely spread by the Alumni Office for Volunteer Day. Pacing break held down the attendance, though.

Lehigh team did some things well, made some mistakes, but generally showed a pretty decent defense and some good offensive skill payers. The OL with three sophomores needs more time to develop, though.

If I were a Fordham fan, I would be very disappointed. Their team made too many opening-game mistakes, don't have their timing down, got suckered too many times by Lehigh stunts, and did not live up to their reputation.

Lehigh still has three major challenges to overcome to make this a fully successful season - the very talented Dominic Randolph, clever Dick Biddle, and the Lafayette mystique.
matt said…
Clark has been playing great the last two weeks. I hope this goes on to this week at HARVARD.
mattc said…
This kids only a sophomore.. Scary stuff... Only going to get better.. Go Mountain hawks and Go Canes!
Anonymous said…
This is a great study in human nature. I notice there isnt much activity when the team wins. Why is that?
Chuck B '92 said…
Believe me when I say that I get MANY more hits when the team loses than when the team wins. Is it because people enjoy seeing me suffer? That it means admitting coach was right and they were wrong? You decide!

I did notice that the team got a standing "O" from the crowd after the game. They are happy - and once again, have some hope.
Anonymous said…
Some people aren't happy unless they have something to complain about!!

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