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Mountain Hawks Can't Protect 21 point Lead Twice, Fall to Yale 54-43

The strategy was to jump to an early lead, which was exactly what Lehigh did.

From the second play from scrimmage, sophomore RB Brandon Yosha burst through the line for a 60 yard touchdown, thanks to the blocking up front by senior OL Shane Rugg, sophomore C Brandon Short, and senior OL Wenner Nunes.

But none of these players would be on the field on Lehigh's final drive, all four felled by leg injuries.

Sophomore CB Brandon Leaks returned a pick to the house, and sophomore QB Nick Shafnisky would find senior WR Josh Parris to jump out to a 21-point lead.

But it was not enough.

On a day when Lehigh saw eight players go down to injury, including sophomore LB Colton Caslow, Yale ultimately out-physicaled and out-scored Lehigh -- not only rallying from two 21 point deficits twice, but shutting the Mountain Hawks out in the final quarter to seal the win.

"We did what we had talked about all week in terms of starting fast,"head coach Andy Coen said after the game. "We had a 28-7 lead and they came back largely thanks to big plays. They made some big plays. We left too many big plays out there. Ultimately that's the ballgame."

For the third straight week, Lehigh's defense gave up more than 600 yards, allowing Yale QB Morgan Roberts to go 30-for-39 passing, with 356 yards and 4 touchdowns, three through the air, and one on the ground.  More often than not his favorite target was WR Deon Randall, who grabbed 13 catches for 152 yards and 1 TDs.

The numbers don't get any better when it comes to stopping the run, where RB Tyler Varga notched 150 yards rushing.  Varga eclipsed the 100 yard mark on a 59 yard run on Yale's final drive that sealed the Bulldogs' victory.

Even with those ugly defensive numbers, the Mountain Hawks had their chances, but two critical penalties nullified two big momentum swings.

An unsportsmanlike conduct call nullified a Leaks interception in the third quarter, which Roberts promptly turned into points when he scrambled free and hit wide-open TE Stephen Buric at the goal line for a score that would cut the deficit to two.

Then, down by eleven, an apparent touchdown reception by freshman WR Troy Pelletier was brought back on a block in the back call on senior WR Derek Gaul where Gaul clearly had his hands up in the air, and was only incidentally in a play where Pelletier zipped around two Yale defenders.

But two bad flags aren't what lost the game for Lehigh.  What lost the game were a cavalcade of injuries, mostly knee injuries, that slowed down Lehigh's potent offense and crippled the Mountain Hawks' struggling defense.

The injuries, coupled with:

  • an inability to prevent Yale from getting 31 first downs, 
  • allowing the Bulldogs to convert 5 out of 6 chances in the red zone, 
  • allowing 5 scoring plays of 20 yards or more, and 
  • allow the 4th and 4th player to gain more than 100 yards rushing in a game against them
means that Lehigh starts the season 0-3 for the first time since 2009.


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