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Lehigh 34, Georgetown 12, Final

(Photo Credit: Eric Schumacher)

It was billed as the Patriot League Championship game - a winner-take-all game between the two best teams in the Patriot League in 2011.

In the end, though, the game ended up looking a lot like the last eleven times the Hoyas lined up against the Mountain Hawks.

Lehigh's offense racked up over 500 yards of offense and held onto to ball nearly 38 minutes as they took home their second consecutive Patriot League championship with a fairly convincing 34-12 victory.

The Hoyas, who deserve all the credit in the world for even being in this position this weekend, fought gamely, but ultimately ended up not being able to capitalize enough times on Lehigh's mistakes to come away with the win.

But for Lehigh, it would end up being a day of many milestones for the student-athletes on the field as well as the program.

The Mountain Hawks became the first team since the 2000 and 2001 Lehigh squads to win back-to-back Patriot League Championships outright.

And with a reception in the third quarter, junior WR Ryan "The Answer" Spadola would break the single-season Lehigh receiving record in this game - which was held by current offensive coordinator Dave Cecchini.

"My mom knew [I was about to break the record], she follows everying," Spadola said after the game.  "I kind of knew about it too, but I threw that to the side.

"It''s an honor to have gotten the record while he's here coaching me.  I'm very humbled the have beat coach Cecchini's old record, he's a great coach.  He congratulated me.  Before I got it, he joked with me, said 'You're that close, so I'll run the ball a few more times.'"

As for Georgetown, they have to be kicking themselves thinking about the opportunities they didn't take advantage of.

The first opportunity the Hoyas had to take an early lead came after CB Jeremy Moore stripped the ball loose from junior QB Michael Colvin on the Lehigh 40, setting up shop for the Hoyas in great field position.

But aside from a well-executed screen pass by Georgetown QB Isaiah Kempf to RB Nick Campanella for a 29 yard gain, Lehigh's defense would hold firm with a fearsome pass rush, led by junior LB Fred Mihal's blitz on 3rd down, and the normally-reliable Hoya PK Brett Weiss would push a 23 yard FG wide right.

Given another chance to get the scoring started, senior QB Chris Lum went to work.

He'd go a perfect 6-for-6 passing, slicing the defense with first down passes to Spadola, senior WR Jimmy Jefferson, and junior RB Zach "Bracket Buster" Barket.  Once in the red zone, senior RB Matt Fitz would run right into the "O" line - who pushed the Georgetown defensive line into the end zone, giving Lehigh the first score on the afternoon.

"This week we had early success with the pass, so we kept doing it", Lum said after the game.  "Guys were open, there were great play calls, and good protection, so it worked out this week.  We have great playmakers."

After Lehigh would take advantage of a shanked punt to convert on a 24 yard FG attempt by sophomore PK Tim Divers, Georgetown kept things interesting with their special teams play.

A 43 yard return by CB Jeremy Moore would give Georgetown excellent field position again, and after a big sack by junior FS Billy O'Brien to keep Kempf close to the sticks, Weiss would nail a 38 yard attempt to give the Hoyas a score.

Then, however, Lum and Spadola went back to work.

In their first connection, Lum would find Spadola over the middle, where he would go vertical over several Georgetown defenders and gain about five extra yards before being brought down for a 16 yard gain.

Then Lum would find him downfield with a beautiful pass - and he almost made it to the end zone, after being stopped at the 1 yard line.

(Lum was later ribbed about his lack of touchdown passes by the Morning Call's Keith Groller, and Spadola piped up during that question.  "That was my fault," he half-jokingly remarked, referring to that play.  "I should have found a way to get in there.  I don't know what I was thinking.")

Instead it was junior QB Michael Colvin who would get credit for the touchdown, running the ball in from the Wildcat formation at the 1 yard line.

Divers and Weiss traded field goals near the end of the first half, with Lehigh's field goal being set up by the first of two interceptions by junior CB Bryan Andrews, whose family was in the stadium from Georgia to watch their son help clinch the Patriot League championship.

Georgetown came out fast and made things interesting with another good return by Moore and another sustained drive.

On third and goal from the six, Kempf's pass in the end zone was defended well by senior SS Jon Littlejohn, but bounced off the Georgetown reciever and ultimately landed in the hands of WR Max Weizenegger for a touchdown that cut the deficit to 20-12.

But after Lehigh would go three and out on the next drive, Andrews would intercept Kempf and return it for a pick six, making the score 27-12, and Lehigh would not look back, adding a 5 yard touchdown sneak by Lum later in the game to finish the scoring.

"I thought the quarterback had actually overthrown him, but the wind got a hold of it, luckily the receiver tipped it, and I was in the right place at the right time," he said. "It was a great thing to make their trip worth it to see not just my success, but also the whole team's success.  I wouldn't have wanted them to come up here if we hadn't have won."

In a game that would hinge on turnovers, Lehigh would fumble the ball twice - but force three interceptions, including Andrews' two picks.

It wasn't all rainbows and puppydogs for Lehigh in this game.  Late in the game, Barket went down with an apparent ankle injury, meaning that he would have to celebrate on the field with an air cast on his leg.  As of this evening, he, family and friends were waiting to hear whether it was merely sprained, or actually broken.

But Lehigh won the "Patriot League Championship Game" - and thus guaranteed they will be playing somewhere after Thanksgiving.

“I’m very, very proud of these guys,” head coach Andy Coen said, still wet from the dousing of Gatorade he got from Andrews and senior CB Kenyatta Drake after the game.

“There was a mindset with this team that developed at the end of last year. The seniors have been great leaders and I can’t say enough about how these guys approach the game and how important it is to them and everyone. You have to have that mindset to be successful.

"I thought we had a chance to repeat when the season started and I saw some really good signs early in the year but it was just a matter of trying to get better. I really felt that we should win this championship."

"This was an exciting thing," Andrews said.  "When you're recruited, the first thing you want is to win a championship.  That was our goal from day one when we first came in, and it feels good to achieve our goal."

"It feels great, being a senior and doing this twice," Lum said after the game.  "It feels great being Patriot League champions again."


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