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.”