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Lehigh 31, Bucknell 15, final

It's a win. Was it always pretty? Hardly. But it's a win, and I'll gladly take the feeling of a win this week over a loss.

Fortunately for Lehigh, the offense scored right out of the blocks, with a 16 yard scamper by sophomore RB Jay Campbell. On Bucknell's first offensive drive, junior LB Matt Cohen, scoop-and-scored a Bison fumble to allow Lehigh shoot out to a 14-0 lead.

Bucknell really didn't recover after that, but the final outcome was far from assured by the end of the first half.

After a block of senior P/K Jason Leo's punt, the senior actually made a heady play to boot to ball out of the end zone, denying the Bison a touchdown. Then when Lehigh got the ball back after a Bucknell drive went nowhere (helped hugely by some big Bucknell penalties), Lehigh stepped forward into Bucknell territory... then made three huge steps backward with a fumble, a huge sack for a loss, and then an interception (the "trifecta of terror" for Lehigh fans, all on one drive).

Twice Bucknell drove inside the Lehigh 30 in the first half, and twice head coach Tim Landis elected to go for it instead of kick 40 yard field goals. Once, the ball fell incomplete, the other Bucknell WR Shaun Pasternak was tackled by senior LB Tim Diamond two yards short of the first down marker.

In the second half, things would start to come together. The defense - and, specifically, junior LB Matt Cohen - kick-started things again, this time by reaching up for an interception and returning it 20 yards. Three plays later on a 3rd-and-6, sophomore QB J.B. Clark would find senior WR Mike "Cris Carter" Fitzgerald for a 7 yard TD strike that would make it 21-2 Lehigh.

After Bucknell responded with a 11 play, 72 yard touchdown drive, sophomore KR John "Fear Itself" Kennedy would rip off a 35 yard return, and Clark would find senior WR Sekou "Stunt Man" Yansane for a 37 yard fallback reception. A 10 yard rumble by senior FB Adam Watson would lead to a J.B. Clark sneak for a touchdown. Leo's 4th point after would make the score Lehigh 28, Bucknell 9.

Leo would leave Murray Goodman for the last time with a great day - perfect on extra points, adding a 30 yard FG to finish the scoring, and for good measure booted 3 punts for an amazing 55 yard average. Included in that was a 75 yarder downed at the 5 yard line - his career high.

While the offense had some struggles, with only 204 total yards on the afternoon, it was the defense, directly responsible for one touchdown and setting up another, that really stood out. Four 3-and-outs, the two huge turnovers, and the two 4th downs - they were huge components to Lehigh's victory.

The unexepectedly pleasant afternoon - unfortunately only witnessed by a little over 4,700 paying customers - was a great sendoff for the Lehigh seniors that have been through a lot over these last four years. They leave Goodman with heads held high.

The win also gives Lehigh some important momentum going into the final weekend of the season. "That school in Easton" lost a heartbreaker to Holy Cross today - 27-26, on a Randolph touchdown strike in the final 30 seconds of the game - in a hard-fought, emotional game that eliminated the Leopards from Patriot League title contention (and almost certainly postseason contention, too).

Lehigh enters the 144th meeting on the high of victory. All Lehigh fans hope that the momentum from that victory - and the hangover of the loss in Easton - will carry over into next Saturday.

Like every year, "Rivalry Week" starts... now.


74Grad said…
Nice to see those other guys lose a game the way we so often give them away - missed XP and a Hail Mary. Maybe there is some hope for next Saturday.
JIMMYC said…
rivalry week baby!! beat the boys from Easton!! and lets go canes..ACC champs
Doug H said…
Watching online, it didn't look like a bad day..... why the small crowd???? it didn't look that small looking at the home side..... Do student ID access count as a paid admission????? I haven't heard of such a small crowd for a Lehigh game when it wasn't raining???????
Anonymous said…
The weather forecast for the game was awful, so that is what kept the alumni who travel away. In fact, it rained heavily in the areas surrounding the stadium.

Plus, a lot of alumni are bitter over the way Lehigh has handle tickets for the Lafayette game this year and have boycotted the other games.

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