Pretty? Absolutely not. But Lehigh will gleefully take this 35-28 victory at Rose Hill, a game which featured a combined seven turnovers, three missed field goals, and seventeen penalties for 143 yards by both teams.
Starting out, it seemed like Lehigh was trying to give the game away as junior DB/RS John "Prez" Kennedy fumbled a punt return that was recovered by the Rams in the end zone to erase a beautiful 11-play, 66 yard drive ending with an 8 yard pass from junior QB J.B. Clark to sophomore WR Jake Drwal.
It would be the first of four Lehigh turnovers that led directly to touchdowns the other way. Taken in that way, you could say that had Lehigh took care of the ball a bit better, this would have been a laugher.
After a Lehigh fumble ended with a 19 yard strike to Ram sophomore WR David Moore from senior QB John Skelton to fall behind 14-7, Lehigh took advantage of a fumble on special teams, recovered by junior FS John Venerio, to tie the game after Clark's pretty 14 yard TD strike to sophomore WR De'Vaughn Gordon to tie the game at 14.
In the second quarter, an interception led to a one-play drive, a 30 yard Skelton-to-Moore TD connection down the left side to give Fordham the lead again at 21-14. At this point it felt like Lehigh simply wasn't going to be able to stop shooting themselves in the foot - but to the Mountain Hawks' credit, they did.
Special teams played a monster part in the resurgence. After a huge 33 yard punt return by junior DB/RS Jarard Cribbs, Clark would find Gordon again for a 39 yard TD pass on the right side this time - tying the game at 21. And later in the quarter, Cribbs ripped off a 60 yard punt return which led to Clark's 15 yard TD run on a busted play to give Lehigh a 28-21 lead.
Right before half, Skelton would find Moore again on a 15 yard strike to knot the score at 28 at halftime. After Clark would find Gordon for his third TD of the day to Gordon - this one a 39 yarder - in the second half, it would be Lehigh's defense and the running of junior RB Jay Campbell that would take over and cement the win.
The defense piled on an amazing nine sacks of Skelton, most coming in the second half where the Mountain Hawks were owning the line of scrimmage. Sophomore LB Devin Greene had 2 1/2 sacks, senior LB Matt Cohen added two sacks and senior LB Troy Taylor (who led the team with 11 tackles) added a big momentum sack which ended with a blocked FG by freshman DB Bryan Andrews.
Meanwhile, Campbell was grinding out the yards, ending the day with 27 carries for 155 yards, helping finish off the win. In a world where Lehigh has lost a lot of games by a touchdown or less, it was gratifying to see the Mountain Hawks pull out a close one.
It always seems like Lehigh pulls out this game before "The Rivalry", and with Lafayette losing a heartbreaker to Holy Cross this weekend, all of a sudden Lehigh finally has a bit of momentum going into the game that the Mountain Hawks have to win. The Yuenglings taste great now - but they'll taste even better if Lehigh can win two games in a row.