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Written by: Alec Eskin on Sunday, November 20th, 2022
Yesterday’s game has been circled on everyone’s calendars for the past year as all the fans, coaches, and players were looking forward to this historic rivalry. Fisher Field was packed yesterday with fans from Lehigh and Lafayette. The rivalry between the Mountain Hawks and the Leopards is historic as it is the longest lasting rivalry in college football history. All time, Lafayette leads in wins over Lehigh with a record of 80-72 going into the game. Yesterday’s game definitely lived up to the hype as it was a close game throughout, never sure who was going to come away with the victory. In the end, Lafayette was able to make a strong defensive stand in the red zone to win the final game of the year by a final score of 14-11. Let’s go into a deeper recap of both teams. . .
Lafayette on offense had one big play yesterday which was a 71-yard touchdown run by Jamar Curtis in the first quarter to put Lafayette up 7-0. Other than that, Lafayette did not score another point on offense and had a lot of trouble moving the ball. Starting quarterback Ah-Shaun Davis was 15 for 21 passing with 56 yards, his lowest total passing yards in the game for the year and had a passer rating of 93.8. On the ground, they were not able to move the ball there either. Aside from the 71-yard touchdown run, they had a total of 53 yards. However, Davis never got sacked the entire game, which is a strong accomplishment because Lehigh’s defensive line is very deep. Lafayette’s offense was not in the red zone once during this game.
On defense, Lafayette was giving up a lot of yards throughout the game, but they delivered the difference maker in who won yesterday, and that was their red zone defense. Lehigh was in the red zone four times and only allowed a touchdown and a field goal. Lafayette’s ability to prevent Lehigh from finishing drives was perhaps the main reason why they won. On Lehigh’s second to last drive of the game, when they were at the 15-yard line of Lafayette with under three minutes left to go, they were able to come up with a stop and win the game. It was an impressive effort which included a pick-six in the middle of the first quarter. They allowed a total of 404 yards in the game but yet only allowed nine points. They forced Lehigh’s offense to be one dimensional by stopping the run and perhaps that difference was exposed in that part of the field. Although, through the air was where their weakness was, allowing a total of 343 yards. This also allowed for Lehigh’s offense to be on the field for a very long time and Lehigh was the team who was the winner in terms of possession time. But overall, the Leopards red zone defense was so stout that it essentially won them the game.
Lehigh’s offense was once again bogged down by mental mistakes and not being able to convert in the red zone, two things that have haunted them all year long. For example, on their first red zone possession, their tight end Alex Snyder was able to haul in a reception and the 12-yard line and take it down to the one, but it was called back due to an illegal shift. Then, there was a lot of confusion on routes between quarterback Dante Perri and the wide receivers. These miscommunications caused a lot of wide-open receivers to be missed. Then the redzone offense for Lehigh struggled mightily yesterday. Since Lehigh could not move the ball on the ground that well yesterday, this could have shrunk their playbook. Overall, the offense had looked better than in previous weeks. Dante Perri has shown a lot of improvement as he threw for 343 yards on 29 for 57 passing with a touchdown and an interception. He had a passer rating of 103.7, which is very impressive. This is perhaps something to feel good about heading into next year.
On defense, the Mountain Hawks had a fantastic game. Other than the long touchdown run, the essentially shut down the Leopards offense from doing anything the rest of the game. The fact that they only allowed 56 yards though the air shows how far they have come compared to their first game of the year against Villanova where the Mountain Hawks allowed 298 yards. The story was much of the same on the ground, only allowing 124 yards. The defense is the reason why this game was kept close and that it didn’t get away from them even though Lafayette went up 14-0. Lehigh had a lot of talent on that side of the ball, and it looks like they were starting to come together and with a lot of those players returning next year, this could be a steppingstone for perhaps some good fortune. Lastly, perhaps the most impressive stat from this game was that the Mountain Hawks only allowed a total of nine first downs the entire game.
Both Lehigh and Lafayette’s seasons ended yesterday as they will not both be missing the FCS playoffs. Lehigh finishes 2-9 while Lafayette ends at 4-7, their best record since 2019. Both of these teams will have their work cut out for them heading into the off-season and heading into next year.
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