"I'm disappointed with today's outcome," head coach Andy Coen said after the game. "We never gave ourselves a chance. UNH really jumped us from the get-go and were very physical. We did not tackle very well. They really controlled every aspect of the game through the half."
For Lehigh fans, it made for some tough viewing at the place they call the "Dungeon" on a rainy, grey afternoon in Durham, New Hampshire.
New Hampshire scored touchdown drives of 71, 74, 84, and 90 yards in the first half, converting some 2-point conversions for good measure, to coast to a 29-0 lead. They never looked back.
"We were victimized by too many big plays," Coen said. "We had opportunities to tackle guys in space and we didn't do it. I credit the UNH staff and their kids. They did a great job. They had a great plan against us."
It looked like Lehigh might compete with UNH early when senior FS Stephen Wilmington alertly came down with a pass that bounced off the receiver, setting the the Mountain Hawks with good field position.
But a fumble happened on the end of a reception, and UNH DE Cody Muller wrestled the ball away at the bottom of a pile at the UNH 29.
From there the Wildcat offense, dangerous even on an off day, started slicing through the Lehigh defense like cheese.
UNH TE Harold Spears got loose for a big 53 yard strike. WR R.J. Harris would explode through the line for a 15 yard touchdown run, his lineman shoving him into the end zone to finish the drive. And near the end of the half, QB Sean Goldrich would find WR Jimmy Giansante for a 30 yard catch.
Lehigh's offense, led by sophomore QB Nick Shafnisky, struggled to find a rhythm and had drive after drive stall just to see junior P Austin Devine trot out to punt the ball away. Devine had 8 punts for a 43.5 yard average on the afternoon.
In the second half, Lehigh competed hard, despite the lopsided score, but it was "a day late and a dollar short," Coen accurately noted.
Some bright spots in the second half were a beautiful jumped route by sophomore CB Brandon Leaks, an interception setting up one score.
Another was a strip and recovery from junior LB D.J. Bourgeois, who set up another.
Freshman WR Troy Pelletier also scored two TD receptions, late in the game, one from Shafnisky, the other from senior QB Matt McHale.
But they certainly didn't make the bus ride any more pleasant to Bethlehem after a tough defeat to one of the best FCS teams in the nation.