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

Remembering Lehigh's Battles With The Late Tubby Raymond

(Photo Credits: Delaware Online)

When I heard the news Tubby Raymond, legendary Delaware head football coach, died last week at the age of 92, two immediate memories came rushing back to me.

One occurred on October 16th, 1999, when Tubby had made a complaint to the local paper or radio in the run-up to Kevin Higgins' Mountain Hawks beating his Blue Hens on Delaware's homecoming, 42-35.

I have no idea if the quote even actually happened, but my recollection is that Tubby said that Lehigh had "St. Bartholomew's" on their schedule, and hadn't played anybody.  It was a verbal jab that many Delaware fans took with them to the stands to heckle the Mountain Hawk fans that made the short trip to Newark.

Up until that point, I had watched a bunch of Lehigh football games over the years.  I experienced their rise in the 1990s.  I enjoyed wins, and championships, and playoff victories.

But never had I felt a win so viscerally vindicating than the one over Tubby Raymond&…

Lehigh Wrestling Gets Superstar Treatment at PPL Center. Lehigh Football Needs The Same At Murray Goodman.

"We knew it would be nice," Lehigh wrestling head coach Pat Santoro said. "But it was even better than we expected."

Pat was talking about the reception his Lehigh wrestling squad experienced at Allentown's PPL Center this weekend, when a sellout crowd over nearly 10,000 people came to watch No. 1 Penn State grapple with No. 5 Lehigh in a collegiate wrestling event.

It was, by all accounts, something special to behold. 

"I thought it was really cool and an exciting place to wrestle," said Penn State wrestler Nick Nevills. "These fans were really into it, a rowdy bunch. It's a lot more fun as an athlete to wrestle in an environment like this. I'd say it was one of the most exciting times I have had in my career."

The sense of spectacle at the PPL center, though, puts a spotlight on what more can be done at Lehigh itself to make their athletic contests into spectacles.  It requires money to be spent and energy to be expended.  But the…

Troy Pelletier Hasn't Stopped Outworking His Rivals On His Journey To Professional Football

Many Patriot League football fans remember the 153rd meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette, one that ended happily for the Mountain Hawks.

They might remember the MVP performance of QB Brad Mayes, or perhaps the halftime speech by OL Zach Duffy that seemed to spur the Mountain Hawks to victory.

Or perhaps they might remember the spectacular single play of Mayes rolling right and finding WR Gatlin Casey in the end zone to give the Mountain Hawks a lead they didn't relinquish.  It was an incredible play by Mayes, who returns this upcoming year for his senior season, and Casey, who, having exhausted his eligibility at Lehigh, will be playing one more year at Middle Tennessee State.

As great as those individual moments are, though, they are not my biggest takeaway of that game.

Too many Lehigh people forget that Lehigh was down 31-21 at half, and that victory was no sure thing.  And they sometimes forget that so much of that victory came from the grinding of WR Troy Pelletier, deliver…