And head coach Andy Coen, as you might guess, was none too pleased with his team.
All week, he had told his team to focus on Georgetown. To not overlook them on the way to playing "that school in Easton". To not think about rings. To not settle for a share of the Patriot League championship. To be hungry.
And yet, there it was. Georgetown 7, Lehigh 6, going into half.
A Georgetown team that was different from the other Georgetown teams challenged Lehigh almost the entire way. But ultimately the Mountain Hawks wrestled the game away from the Hoyas and got the 24-7 win they wanted - and removed the "co-" from the Patriot League championship. It would be a celebration to remember - because this was no coast of a win over the Hoyas. Not by a long shot. (more)
In Multi-Sport Field's tiny stadium, a packed visitors side of the close to capacity crowd of 2,819 came to DC most likely expecting a blowout and a Lehigh coronation. In the first half, they saw anything but.
After Lehigh's defense forced a 3-and-out right off the bat, the Mountain Hawks and looked like they might run away with this early as senior RB Jay Campbell and sophomore QB Michael Colvin moved the ball with a short field to set up Lehigh's first score. But when the drive stalled at the Hoya 14, senior PK Tom Randazza hit a 32 yard field goal instead.
Yet despite the fact that Lehigh was stuffing Georgetown repeatedly on offense, Georgetown's defense was matching them shot for shot. Potential Patriot League defensive player of the year candidate DE Andrew Schaetzke stuffed sophomore RB Zach Barket short of the sticks on one drive, and crushed Campbell for another tackle for loss on another, forcing punts both times.
The offense moved the ball well on one particular drive, chewing up 7 minutes of time thanks to timely runs from Campbell and junior QB Chris Lum finding sophomore WR Ryan Spadola for one first down and rushing for another. But once in the red zone, the drive stalled again. As Hoya LB Nick Parrish and FS Wayne Hemuli continued to punish Lehigh's wideouts underneath, and Schaetzke kept bringing solid pressure, drops and rushed passes ended the drive. A 23 yard FG by Randazza ensured that Lehigh got some points out of the drive, but it was far from the crisp operation that had seen Lehigh efficiently dismantle Colgate two weeks ago or the unit that put up 34 on Holy Cross last week.
The lead was incredibly fragile. And as if to prove it, Georgetown made some big plays at the end of the half to take the lead despite a near-completely ineffective offense.
After getting the ball back on a punt, Lum threw a pass that was intercepted by LB Paul Sant'Ambrogio in the middle of the field with about two minutes left to play.
With that surge of momentum, QB Isaiah Kempf drove the Hoyas into Lehigh territory. After senior CB John "Prez" Kennedy forced WR Max Weizenegger out of bounds three yards short of the sticks, the Hoyas went for in on 4th and 3 at the Lehgih 40.
Instead of standing them up again, Kempf threw a screen pass to Weizenegger again over the middle - which he promptly turned into a 31 yard gain. One play later - seemingly stunned by the turn of events - RB Dalen Claytor bulled into the end zone for the TD. The extra point made it Georgetown 7, Lehigh 6.
Before that interception, Lehigh had only allowed two first downs to the Hoyas. Now, two more first downs later, the Hoyas were ahead going into halftime. Georgetown did what Holy Cross could not do last weekend: convert off a Lehigh miscue. Now, the Hoyas were leading, despite being largely outplayed.
On the audio broadcast, Coen appeared to be warming up to really lay into his team.
"We didn’t change a lot [at halftime]," Coen said after the game. "Georgetown is a much improved team and they played hard. We didn’t panic. We talked about concentration and focus for 60 minutes. We wasted 30 but we talked about doing what we needed to do for the last 30 minutes and the kids went out and did it.”
The beginning of the third quarter also provided plenty of Alka Seltzer moments for Lehigh fans, too.
A time-consuming drive, featuring more runs from Campbell for big chunks of yardage, looked very promising as they got within the Hoya red zone. But - there's that name again - DE Andrew Schaetzke sacked junior QB Chris Lum for a 13 yard loss - the first sack Lehigh had even been registered against the Mountain Hawks in weeks, and put Lehigh out of field goal range. A punt ensued, and Georgetown moved the ball into Lehigh territory with surprising ease.
At 4th and inches, Georgetown went to their best offensive player - WR Keerome Lawrence - and bulled his way to the first down. Four plays later, at 4th and 2 from the Lehigh 30 yard line, head coach Kevin Kelly decided instead of going for it again, he would try a very long field goal instead, an NFL-caliber 46 yard FG attempt from PK Brett Weiss.
The kick wasn't even close.
On the ensuing drive - finally - the Lehigh offense started to click.
Lum would look sharp again after completing passes to Spadola, junior WR Jake Drwal and senior WR Craig "Braveheart" Zurn for big chunks of yards and first downs. All that was needed after that was Colvin to follow his blockers into the end zone - including senior FB Bryce Arruda to regain the lead.
"We got some great efforts in the second half," Lum said after the game. "The guys were making great catches and getting yards after the catch. We didn't change too much in the second half. We stayed with our game plan."
To their immense credit, Georgetown played hard all game on defense and played a really heroic game. The Hoya offense didn't give their defensive unit much of a break, but they kept denying Lehigh's offense drive after drive - and even well into the 4th quarter, it felt like this game could still go either way.
But it was senior TE Alex Wojdowski, with a huge play in the fourth quarter, which would really be the difference. Still only up six, with 4th-and-4 from the Hoya 27, Wojdo took the pass from Lum - and accelerated through the defense for a gigantic 8 yard gain. While the scoring drive will read an 11 yard TD from senior RB Jay Campbell, it was Wojdo's drive on fourth down that made it all possible.
A two point conversion - and a final 31 yard FG by Randazza that would be the official end to Georgetown's chances - would clinch Lehigh's first Patriot League championship since 2006 and their first playoff appearance since 2004. Fittingly, Randazza's final FG on his career day would come from his fumble recovery on the kickoff after the two-point conversion.
The overflow Lehigh contingent may not have thought that this group would need to be as tough as nails to beat he Hoyas, but this Lehigh team proved to be up to the challenge of a hard-hitting, well-conditioned, Georgetown team. I was incredibly impressed with this Hoya defense - one of the best Lehigh has faced all year.
"It has been a long road for a lot of these kids and for me to get here," Coen said, at one point getting emotional on the radio broadcast, and at a loss for words. "The good Lord won't let it be easy for us, but that's fine. I'm just happy for our seniors because when we recruit kids, we talk about them coming here to win championships. It was great to see that senior group really step up today."
It wasn't easy. But the rings will still say "Patriot League Champions" on it, no matter how it was done.