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Lehigh 42, Bucknell 19. Final

On a perfect homecoming afternoon, the South Mountain skyline something right out of a fall landscape painting, the stage was set for a perfect Lehigh victory - something that Mountain Hawk fans have been looking for all season.

They didn't get that.

But they still did get a dominating win over Bucknell, 42-19, keeping a perfect 8-0 record for Lehigh and getting the job done against a game Bucknell squad.

And, overall, the good outweighed the bad.  Not the perfect game, surely, but plenty for Lehigh to get into the bye week undefeated.

It started on Bucknell's second punt on the afternoon, where freshman DB Laquan Lambert beat his man on the right edge, and blocked Bucknell P Ryan Gutowski's kick.

Seeing the ball dribble away from the play  in slow motion, as he said in the post-game press conference, the Chichester, PA native scooped up the ball and ran it back for a 60 yard touchdown - just as they do in practice.

"I saw the opportunity, and went after it," he said.  "I was fortunate enough to be in that situation.  We pride ourselves in playing hard on offense, defense, and special teams."

Bucknell would roar back on the next drive, after QB Brandon Wesley would kick-start the Bison offense with a 20 yard pass to WR Josh Brake and then RB Jeremiah Young would cap off the 7 play, 69 yard yard drive with a 2 yard touchdown run.

The extra point, though, would be blocked by senior DE Anthony Verderame - his second blocked kick in consecutive weeks, and one of four blocked kicks on the afternoon, tying a Patriot League record for most blocked kicks in a game (Colgate vs. Towson, 2001).

While it was only one point off the scoreboard for Bucknell, it would be a stop that would be critical and would affect the flow of the entire game.

After another great special teams play, a punt return by senior RB Marcus Dormevil caught in stride and converted into an 11 yard gain, Colvin would thread a beautiful pass to junior WR Lee Kurfis, where he would wriggle free from the defensive back covering him and score Lehigh's second touchdown of the afternoon.

Special teams would also set up Lehigh's third touchdown, after Lambert's second block on the afternoon would set the Mountain Hawks up at the 15 yard line - and Colvin would again fake the run and rifle it in to Kurfis for his second touchdown to make it 21-6 at halftime.

"With Ryan down, I knew I was going to be the go-to receiver in the offense," he said.  "As much as it stinks having Ryan out,we really have the depth in the receiving corps to step up.  Sophomore WR Josh Parris has done an incredible job filling my role on the other side."

So far, so good, if you're a Lehigh fan. 

But as seems to happen every week with this team, there's a lull where the opposing team gets back in the game, and it happened again today.

After a partially blocked punt, Bucknell would set up shop at the Lehigh 47 yard line, and delivered an impressive drive, with great plays to Young and WR Victor Walker, setting up Young's second TD run of the afternoon, a five-yard run.

Head coach Joe Susan, chasing the missed extra point, went for a 2-point conversion, and Wesley, under heavy pressure, misfired on the pass, leaving the score 21-12.

These points would loom very critical when Colvin, whose deep pass on the next possession would be intercepted by DB Matt Steinbeck, and the fully-awake 119th-ranked Bucknell offense suddenly looked unstoppable.

Wesley would find WR Travis Friend for a big 29 yard pass, and then Young, who would finish the afternoon with 100 yards rushing, would convert his third and final touchdown.

Just like that, it was a football game, Lehigh 21, Bucknell 19, with 5:30 left in the 3rd quarter.

But just like that - in a script that will be very familiar to any Lehigh fan this season - the Mountain Hawks would respond, and then finally take the game by the throat with a quick, well-executed drive drive.

After a huge 11 yard sack up the middle from Verderame, Colvin would hit Parris for a tiptoeing 29 yard reception.  Then, on the next play, he'd hand the ball off to senior RB Zach Barket, who executed the flea-flicker back to Colvin perfectly, who would then hit Kurfis for a big 49 yard pass.

He'd then take it in himself, and make the score 28-19 Lehigh - just like that.

“Bucknell did a nice job in the third quarter,” Coen said. “We were giving them short fields in the punt exchanges. The offense came back and responded in the fourth quarter and really seized momentum in the game.  The flea flicker was incredibly well executed between Zach and Mike. That play really took the wind out of Bucknell’s sails.

"What I’m most pleased with is there was never any panic. These kids know what they’re capable of. They stayed focused and went back out and executed.”

"It's a testament to the character of the guys on this football team," Colvin said, in regards to letting Bucknell close to within two before pulling away.  "What we're trying to do here is real special, real hard. When it comes push to shove, every single guy — whether it's a freshman or a senior — they answer the bell. It's never going to be easy. We know that. We know mistakes are going to happen. It's just on to the next play."

With the two-score lead, Lehigh's defense would allow the Bison only twelve more offensive yards the rest of the way, while converting two more touchdowns, one another 4 yard rush by Colvin, and the final blow a 4 yard pass to sophomore TE Tyler Coyle - who was also a part of the celebration on the field after the game, who got to chest-bump with coach on his 20th birthday.

Going into the bye week, Lehigh is 8-0 - the only undefeated 8-0 team in all of FCS, and one of two undefeated teams in the country.  (The other is 7-0 Cal Poly out of the Big Sky.) 

The game this Saturday wasn't perfect, but no football game is.  Going into the bye week this week, there was plenty of celebrating - for good reason - and two weeks to prepare for the final stretch of the regular season.  It won't get any easier. 

But there are a lot of football teams that wish they were where the Mountain Hawks are right now - smiling and celebrating a victory on a perfect fall afternoon, with a trio of meaningful games to play.

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