Skip to main content

Lehigh 34, Fordham 12, Final

A warm and windy day in the Bronx could not stop the Lehigh machine from rolling
this weekend.

This potential "letdown" game?  Hardly a letdown for the guys in the brown pants.

And the "game before the bye week" curse that has afflicted Andy Coen-coached teams could not slow the Mountain Hawks down, either.

While - once again - Lehigh had some mistakes that led to Fordham scores, they shouldn't obscure a smothering performance by the No. 8 team in the country, a fairly comprehensive 34-12 victory that shows that the Mountain Hawks have the answers to an awful lot of questions out there on the field.


"Give credit to Lehigh. They might be one of the best Patriot League teams I've seen in a long, long time," Ram head coach Tom Masella said after the game. "I told the team after the game that we played hard, which I was happy with, but we didn't play well. We knew going into the game that we would have to score points on offense to have a chance to win but we couldn't come up with the big play when we needed it."

Lehigh jumped out early with two sustained drives.

The first ended with a 22 yard field goal by sophomore PK Tim Divers, capping off a 14-play, 63 yard drive.

The second concluded with a leap into the end zone by senior WR Jake Drwal, after a 19 yard connection by senior QB Chris Lum, spinning free from some heavy pressure, to give the Mountain Hawks a 10-0 lead.

Fordham got into Lehigh's red zone on the ensuing drive, thanks to a big play by junior QB Ryan Higgins to junior WR Greg Wilson for a leaping 48 yard grab.

But it would be a big forced fumble by senior DE Andrew Knapp and alert recovery by senior LB Fred Mihal that would squelch one key early drive, and even though 6'5 Fordham senior NG Patrick McGee would later block a punt to make it a 10-2 score, the Rams' missed opportunity in the red zone would mean that they would be always chasing big deficits most of the game.

“We had some turnovers,” Coen said. “But we were also able to create some turnovers, which we hadn’t done much of over the last couple of weeks.”

After the free kick following the safety, Lehigh's defense would again stand tall, with Knapp stuffing junior RB Langston Lacroix on another big third down play, making the Rams settle for a 37 yard boot from freshman PK Mike Morando to make it 10-5.

But Lum, in a day where Lum would amass 416 yards passing and the Mountain Hawks would create 598 total yards of offense, would then shred Fordham's young, depleted secondary, with key strikes to senior WR Jimmy Jefferson and senior RB Zach Barket, before finding sophomore FB Zach Hayden in the end zone to make it 17-5.  Lum's play-action fake fooled Fordham's defense just long enough to give the Point Pleasant, New Jersey native his first Division I touchdown.

After a couple more defensive stops, the Lehigh offense would keep attacking - Barket would rip off a 36 yard run, with a nice acceleration through Fordham's front seven and a nice cutback to get five more yards, and Lum would find some more targets at the end of the half, notably senior WR/RB Matt Fitz, before Divers would connect on a 36 yard field goal to make it 20-5 at halftime.

In the second half, junior WR Ryan Spadola answered the call with yet another dominating, impressive performance.

After Fordham's Ryan Higgins hit Greg Wilson for a big 82 yard touchdown strike to make it a one-possession game - the first touchdown given up by Lehigh in nine quarters - "The Answer" replied with a 50 yard strike from Lum on the very next drive, capped off with a 7 yard cutback run by Fitz in the end zone to go back up by two scores.

And right before the end of the third quarter, a scrambling Lum found a wide-open Spadola on a deep post route for a 63 yard touchdown strike to put the exclamation point on the win.

Spadola would have another mammoth game in a season filled with mammoth games, hauling 13 catches for 216 yards and the touchdown that made the final result no longer in doubt.

So far, "The Answer" is averaging more than 150 receiving yards per game, while passing the 1,000 yard plateau with five games left in the regular season.

“Last night we talked about playing like a team,” Coen said. “I think that’s why we’re playing at a high level right now, because we do play as a team. The guys pick each other up. They stay together. I’m happy with our team coming in and getting this win and now we’re 6-1 heading into the bye week.”

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Nick Shafnisky Is Pushing Hard to Get To Play at the Next Level in Football

"Don't take anything for granted, just keep pushing."
Those are the words of QB Nick Shafnisky, told to The Whitehall-Coplay Press all the way back in 2013, about his preparation as a high school athlete.
And they seem to summarize the Whitehall, PA native perfectly, then as now.
Dubbed the "Male Athlete of the Year" by that publication, the article goes on about Shaf's many exploits at Whitehall high school - leading the Zephyr football team to a co-Lehigh Valley Conference title, becoming the first player ever in that conference to rush and pass for over 1,000 yards, and earning the league's co-MVP award as well.
He also was a member of the Zephyrs playoff basketball team, and for good measure also helped set a record for the 4x100 relay team as well.
At Whitehall, and at Lehigh, coaches pushed him, but it was his own hard work that helped make him the best athlete he could be.
This weekend, Shaf, like every eligible college football player, will be …

#TheRivalry Flashback: November 21st, 1987: Lehigh 17, Lafayette 10

Since becoming an undergrad at Lehigh back in the late 1980s, I first heard about the historic nature of the football team and "The Rivalry" through the stories that fellow students would share.

I did not attend the final meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette at Taylor Stadium, which was the final time a football game would be played there.

Those that did attend said that was that it was cold.

"I remember it being one of the coldest games ever," Mark Redmann recollected, "with strong Northwesterly winds and the temperature hovering around 20.  By the end of the game, the stands were half empty because most of the fans just couldn't take the cold.

"Fortunately, several of my fraternity brothers snuck in flasks to help fend off the chill."

Dominick Bragalone Goes Into Monster Mode As Lehigh Is One Win Away From Title

It has been a most unusual season for Lehigh.

Starting the year off at 0-5 and getting swept in their out-of-conference schedule, the Mountain Hawks were in danger of having their season go off the rails.

But two things have come together over the last five football games that have put Lehigh on the brink of back-to-back championships.

The first is the late blooming of the Lehigh defense, which kept battling every week since the low point of the September 30th loss to Wagner to do the job in four of their five Patriot League conference games. 

The second is the development of junior RB Dominick Bragalone into a bellcow running back, a back who has to be in the conversation for Patriot League offensive player of the year.

In five Patriot League games, Bragalone has run for 863 yards in 5 games, rushing for 11 touchdowns and adding two more receiving touchdowns as well. 

The South Williamsport, PA native certainly wasn't unknown before this week - after all, as a freshman and a sop…