CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Though it will not count in the standings, No. 11/15 Lehigh's first Patriot League game will have plenty of subplots when upstart Fordham comes to town on Saturday.
The Mountain Hawks come into the game with 13 consecutive regular-season wins, the top run in the FCS, and 14 straight victories against Patriot League opponents. The Patriot League streak started with a win over Fordham in 2009 and is five shy of the League record set by Holy Cross from 1988-92.
Fordham, which finished 1-10 last season, is off to a strong 3-1 start under first-year Head Coach Joe Moorhead.
Lehigh is also one of 15 remaining undefeated teams in the nation, a distinction it shares with rival Lafayette in the Patriot League. The Leopards improved to 3-0 with a 20-14 win at Bucknell on Saturday, which also gave them the early lead in the Patriot League race. Lafayette tries to get to 4-0 for the first time since 1988 when it heads to Robert Morris on Saturday.
The other four games are against opponents from the Ivy League, with the Patriot League holding a 5-3 edge in the season series to date. Holy Cross is at Harvard on Friday evening, while on Saturday Colgate visits Yale, Georgetown hosts Brown and Bucknell welcomes Cornell. All eight games between the leagues have been decided by seven points or less.
Patriot League Twitter Notebook - @PatriotLeagueFB
*Lehigh puts multiple winning streaks on the line against Fordham Saturday.
*The Mountain Hawks have won an FCS-best 13 straight regular-season games.
*They also have a 14-game Patriot League winning streak, which stands fourth in League history and is just five games from the record of 19.
*Lehigh and Lafayette are two of 15 remaining undefeated teams in the FCS.
*Lehigh is up to No. 11/15 in national rankings, with Lafayette receiving votes.
*Lafayette will go for its first 4-0 record since 1988 on Saturday at Robert Morris.
*Lehigh aims to continue its top start since an undefeated regular season in 2001.
*Fordham is off to its best start since a 4-1 opening in 2004.
*A win Saturday would give Georgetown a 4-1 record for the first time since 1999.
*Patriot League teams are an FCS-best 14-9 (.608) in non-conference play.
*That includes a 9-4 record in games decided by seven points or less.
*Ten non-League games have been within three points, with a 6-4 record for Patriot League teams in those contests.
*The Patriot League is 5-3 this season against the Ivy League, with all eight games decided by seven points or less.
*There are eight games remaining with the Ivies, including four this weekend.
*Fordham's Carlton Koonce tied a Patriot League record with a 92-yard touchdown run on Saturday against Columbia, and ran for 250 yards.
*He earned a second straight Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week honor.
*Lehigh's Billy Boyko was named Sports Network National FCS Defensive Player of the Week Monday after also receiving the Patriot League honor.
Patriot League Players of the Week (Sept. 21-22) Offensive Player of the Week: CARLTON KOONCE, FORDHAM Sr., RB, Lumberton, N.J.; 35 carries, 250 yards, 2 total TD Defensive Player of the Week: BILLY BOYKO, LEHIGH Sr., LB, Northampton, Pa.; 14 TT, 1 sack, 1 INT (39-yd TD return) Special Teams Player of the Week: MATT MacZURA, GEORGETOWN Sr., P/K, Cranberry Twp, Pa.; 3-3 FG (GW 33-yd) Rookie of the Week: DEZMOND RICHARDSON, GEORGETOWN Fr., DL, Euless, Texas; 7 TT, 2 TFL, 1 sack
Patriot League Notebook LEHIGH, LAFAYETTE AMONG THE FINE FIFTEEN
Lehigh and Lafayette remain among a group of 15 teams that are undefeated in the Football Championship Subdivision. The Mountain Hawks are 4-0 for the first time since 2001 after winning 28-26 at Liberty on Saturday, while the Leopards moved to 3-0 for the first time since 2008 and won their Patriot League opener for the first time since 2009 with a 20-14 victory at Bucknell. Lafayette can get to 4-0 for the first time since 1988 with a win at Robert Morris on Saturday, while Lehigh aims to continue its longest season-opening win streak since going undefeated in the regular season in 2001. Lehigh moved up to No. 11 in the FCS Coaches Poll on Monday, and inched one spot to No. 15 in The Sports Network top 25. Lafayette increased its position in the others receiving votes category in both polls, getting within seven slots of a ranking in the coaches poll.
LEHIGH PUTS STREAKS ON THE LINE AGAINST FORDHAM
Lehigh will have a pair of lengthy winning streaks at stake when it opens Patriot League play at home against Fordham on Saturday. While the game will not count towards the League standings, it will be applied to Lehigh's 14-game winning streak against Patriot League opponents. The streak started when Lehigh posted a 35-28 win at Fordham on Nov. 14, 2009, and has continued through two consecutive undefeated League campaigns. Lehigh has not lost any game in the regular season since a 48-41 overtime heartbreaker against New Hampshire on Sept. 10, 2011, giving the Mountain Hawks an FCS-best 13-game regular-season winning streak. Lehigh has not dropped a game in regulation in the regular season since September 2010.
Active FCS Regular-Season Win Streaks (Next opponent) 1. Lehigh, 13 games (Fordham, 9/29)
2. Harvard, 11 games (Holy Cross, 9/28)
3. Old Dominion, 8 games (at Richmond, 9/29)
4. Delaware, 7 games (at New Hampshire, 9/29)
5. Dartmouth, 5 games (Penn, 9/29)
Alabama A & M, 5 games (Grambling State, 9/29)
Longest Patriot League Win Streak
1. Holy Cross, 19 games (Oct. 15, 1988-Nov. 7, 1992)
2. Lehigh, 16 games (Nov. 13, 1999 - Sept. 7, 2002)
3. Colgate, 15 games (Oct. 5, 2002 - Oct. 23, 2004) 4. Lehigh, 14 games (Nov. 14, 2009 - present)
5. Lehigh, 10 games (Nov. 22, 1997 - Oct. 22, 2009)
PATRIOT LEAGUE PUTS UP ANOTHER WINNING WEEKEND, HOLDS BEST NON-LEAGUE MARK IN FCS
In all four weekends of the 2012 season, the Patriot has emerged with a winning mark in its non-League competition. Georgetown, Fordham and Lehigh all won on the road to boost the League to a 3-2 mark last week, with last-minute defeats for Colgate and Holy Cross keeping the conference from an even better mark. The Patriot League stands 14-9 in non-League action for a winning percentage of .608 which ranks as the top mark in the Football Championship Subdivision. It stands just ahead of the Missouri Valley Football Conference (18-12, .600) and Southern Conference (12-8, .600) as the best mark in the FCS, with only the CAA (16-12, .571) and Ohio Valley Conference (13-12, .520) also holding winning marks.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
The Patriot League's non-League victories have not come without some nail-biting for fans of all seven teams. Thirteen of the 23 non-League games have been decided by seven points or less, with Patriot League teams putting up a shiny 9-4 record in those contests. Ten of those 13 have been within a field goal, and Patriot League teams have gone 6-4 in those games. The series with the Ivy League has been a major result of the close contests, as all eight games between the conferences have been decided by a touchdown or less. The Patriot League holds a 5-3 edge with eight games to play over the next three weeks.
CHECKING IN ON THE PRESEASON PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Lehigh senior wide receiver Ryan Spadola now has 3,115 receiving yards for his career and stands sixth in Patriot League history in both receiving yards and receptions (196). Spadola has 14-career 100-yard receiving games, tying the Patriot League record first set by Fordham's Javarus Dudley (2000-03). Georgetown senior linebacker Robert McCabe had 10 tackles and three tackles for loss in Friday's win over Princeton, and now leads the nation in tackles per game (13.75) while ranking eighth in the country in tackles for loss (1.75).
It took Fordham only four games to have two seniors break into the Patriot League record book with some of the most significant plays in League history. Punter/kicker Patrick Murray broke the League record with a 52-yard field goal in the team's season-opening win over Lock Haven on Aug. 30, and for good measure he tied the previous mark of 51 yards last week against Columbia. Running back Carlton Koonce was the record-setter in that game, as his 92-yard touchdown run in the first quarter tied a mark set previously by Lehigh's Ronald Jean (1998) and Rabih Abdullah (1994).
This Week in the Patriot League Fordham Rams (3-1) at No. 11/15 Lehigh Mountain Hawks (4-0, 0-0): Saturday, 12:30 p.m. Goodman Stadium; Bethlehem, Pa.TV: Service Electric 2 Sports
*Two of the Patriot League's hottest teams face off on Saturday when Fordham visits No. 11/15 Lehigh.
*It is a Patriot League game, but will not count towards the standings with Fordham ineligible for the 2012 League title.
*Lehigh carries a 14-game Patriot League winning streak that started with its victory at Fordham in 2009.
*The Rams have opened 3-1, while the Mountain Hawks have an FCS-best 13-game regular-season win streak.
*Lehigh leads the all-time series 22-2, with wins in each of the last four and 13 of the last 14 seasons.
*The Mountain Hawks hold a 20-2 advantage in Patriot League competition, with Fordham's wins coming in 1997 and 2007.
*Lehigh is a perfect 11-0 against the Rams at Goodman Stadium, all coming during the Patriot League era.
*Lehigh won last year's meeting 34-12 at Fordham, and beat the Rams 21-17 in the last matchup in Bethlehem in 2010.
*Fordham is trying to extend its best start since 2004, while Lehigh aims to keep its best opening run since 2001.
*Lehigh has won its last four Patriot League openers, while Fordham has dropped its first League contest four years in a row.
Holy Cross Crusaders (0-3, 0-0) at No. 24 Harvard Crimson (2-0, 1-0 Ivy): Friday, 7 p.m. Harvard Stadium; Cambridge, Mass.
*Holy Cross aims for its first victory when it goes to No. 24 Harvard on Friday evening.
*The Crusaders have won three of the last five against the Crimson, but have not won at Harvard since 2000.
*Holy Cross is trying to snap its longest season-opening winless skid since dropping its first five games in 2004.
*Harvard holds a 39-24-2 edge in the all-time series, and Patriot League teams are 28-35 versus the Crimson.
Colgate Raiders (1-3, 0-0) at Yale Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1 Ivy): Saturday, 12 p.m.
Yale Bowl; New Haven, Conn.
*Colgate heads to the Yale Bowl to take on the Bulldogs for the first time since 2004.
*Yale holds a 25-10-3 edge in the all-time series, but Colgate has won three of five meetings since 1990.
*Yale won 31-28 at home in 2004 in the most recent meeting, while Colgate defeated the Bulldogs 52-40 at home in 2003.
*Patriot League teams are 14-35 all-time against Yale, which beat Georgetown on Sept. 15 and hosts Lafayette on Oct. 13.
Brown Bears (1-1, 0-1 Ivy) at Georgetown Hoyas (3-1, 0-0): Saturday, 2 p.m. Multi-Sport Field; Washington, D.C.
*Fresh off its first win over an Ivy League opponent since 2003, Georgetown hosts Brown on Saturday at Multi-Sport Field.
*The teams have only met twice, with the Bears winning at home in 2005 and at Georgetown in 2006.
*It is the third straight Ivy League opponent for Georgetown, which snapped a 13-game losing streak vs. Ivy League foes with a 21-20 win at Princeton on Friday.
*The Hoyas are trying to open with a 4-1 record for the first time since winning their first five games in 1999.
*Patriot League teams are 22-20 all-time against Brown, which won 24-21 at Holy Cross on Sept. 15.
Lafayette Leopards (3-0, 1-0) at Robert Morris Colonials (0-3, 0-1 NEC): Saturday, 6 p.m. Joe Walton Stadium; Moon Township, Pa.
*Lafayette visits Robert Morris on Saturday evening in the first-ever matchup between the schools.
*The Leopards are trying to open the season with a 4-0 record for the first time since 1988.
*It is the second first-time opponent for Lafayette this year, as the Leopards won 17-14 at William & Mary on Sept. 8.
*Patriot League teams are 3-0 all-time against Robert Morris, and have a 4-1 lead in the season series with the NEC.
Cornell Big Red (1-1, 1-0 Ivy League) at Bucknell Bison (1-2, 0-1): Saturday, 6 p.m. Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium; Lewisburg, Pa.
*Bucknell plays Cornell for the 13th straight year when the Big Red visit Lewisburg on Saturday evening.
*Cornell has won the last five meetings and holds a 40-11 lead in the all-time series.
*Bucknell won four straight home meetings from 2000-06, but Cornell has won the last two in Lewisburg.
*Patriot League teams are 34-33-1 all-time against Cornell after Fordham beat the Big Red 34-27 on Sept. 15.
Team Notebooks Bucknell The Bison dropped their Patriot League opener for the first time since 2007 as Lafayette came away with a 20-14 win in Lewisburg on Saturday afternoon...Bucknell fell to the Leopards for the sixth straight time in Lewisburg, and 10th in the last 11 seasons overall...Bucknell fell behind 10-0 in the second quarter, but responded with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Wesley to Nick Gatto with 5:20 left in the period...The drive was extended by a pretty 45-yard
scramble by Wesley after he avoided a sack...Lafayette boosted its edge to 17-7 at the half and 20-7 in the fourth quarter, but Bucknell did not go away easily...Wesley's 12-yard touchdown run with 2:34 left cut the gap to 20-14...The Bison got the ball back with a chance to win, but were stopped on downs before they could cross midfield...Wesley completed 18-of-33 passes for 239 yards with a touchdown and also rushed for a team-high 76 yards and the score... Ryan Morgan led the defense with 10 tackles and two tackles for loss, while Lee Marvel had seven tackles with 3.5 for a loss...The Bison had 13 tackles for loss and four sacks as they snuffed out the Lafayette running game all day.
Colgate The Raiders never backed down against one of the top teams in the nation, but No. 20 Stony Brook scored the game-winning touchdown in the final minutes to hold on for a 32-31 win at home on Saturday...Colgate fell behind 17-0 in the second quarter, but scored three touchdowns in the final five minutes in the period for a 21-0 lead at the half...Jordan McCord had a one-yard run,
Gavin McCarney threw a 51-yard touchdown to Ed Pavalko and McCarney ran in from five yards out with 13 seconds left to give Colgate a 21-17 lead at the break...Colgate took a 28-20 advantage on a 14-yard fumble recovery for a score from Austin Dyer with 6:32 left in the third period, and led 31-26 in the fourth quarter..Stony Brook scored with 3:31 to go back in front for good, as Colgate's final drive stalled on a fourth-and-short play at the Stony Brook 48...McCord ran for 116 yards and a touchdown to continue his run of 100-yard efforts to open the season... McCarney rushed for 35 yards and the score, and completed 14-of-24 passes for 163 yards and the touchdown...Kris Kent led the defense with 17 tackles...Colgate concludes its non-League slate at Yale Saturday, then has a bye before starting League action.
Fordham Fordham retained the Liberty Cup against intra-city rival Columbia by riding a 250-yard rushing day from senior Carlton Koonce to a 20-13 win over the Lions on Saturday at Kraft Field...Koonce carried 35 times for 250 yards and a score, recording the 15th-highest rushing total in Patriot League history...His 92-yard touchdown in the first quarter tied Lehigh's Ronald Jean (1998) and Rabih Abdullah (1994) for the longest scoring rush in Patriot League history..The Rams improved to 3-1 for the first time since 2004, and beat the Lions for the third straight year and fifth in the last six seasons...The Rams improved to 7-4 against Columbia in Liberty Cup games, which was instituted to honor the alumni of both schools and all people who were lost in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001...After falling behind 3-0, Fordham took the lead for good on Koonce's record-tying rush...The senior later added an 18-yard receiving touchdown for a 14-3 lead, and Fordham took a 17-13 lead into the half...Patrick Murray drilled a 51-yard field goal, his third 50-yarder of the season, for a 20-13 lead with 13:01 left in the game...Columbia twice drove into Fordham territory trying to tie the score, but Michael Martin forced and recovered a fumble to end a drive at the 14 yard line and an illegal forward pass ended another with 1:17 left to seal the win for the Rams...Ryan Higgins completed 17-of-25 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown..Martin had seven tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, while Austin Hancock had 12 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
Georgetown Matt MacZura booted a 33-yard field goal with 14 seconds to play to give the Hoyas a dramatic 21-20 victory at Princeton on Friday evening in a game televised on ESPNU...The Hoyas improve to 3-1 for the third consecutive season, and beat an Ivy League opponent for the first time since 2003... Georgetown was down 14-3 in the first half, but rallied to trim it to 14-12 when Jeremy Moore recovered a fumble in the endzone with 3:27 to play in the second quarter...The Hoyas took a short-lived lead on a seven-yard touchdown run by Nick Campanella with 17 seconds left in the third period, as Princeton answered with a score 32 seconds later for a 20-18 advantage...Taking over possession at its own 12-yard line with 5:34 to play, Georgetown went 72 yards to set up MacZura's game-winning boot...The drive included a six-yard run by Dalen Claytor to convert a 4th-and-3 from the Princeton 48...Georgetown snuffed out Princeton's final desperation play to seal its first-ever win in six meetings with the Tigers...It was another strong night for the Georgetown defense, which held Princeton to just 286 yards of total offense...Four players had double-digit tackles in the game, including Robert McCabe with 10 to continue to lead the nation with 13.75 tackles per game...The Hoyas complete their non-League slate at home against Brown on Saturday, their third straight Ivy League opponent.
Holy Cross Dartmouth kicked the game-winning field goal with one second left to deal the Crusaders a 13-10 loss on Saturday at Fitton Field...Holy Cross drops to 0-3 for the first time since 2004, with all three losses at home and the last two coming in the final minutes...Holy Cross held a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but Dartmouth evened the score by halftime...The Crusaders fumbled
the ball in Dartmouth territory with 11 seconds to go, and the Big Green followed with a 17-yard completion that set up the 31-yard game-winning field goal with one second to go...Holy Cross gained only 199 yards in the game...Ryan Laughlin completed 21-of-30 passes for 106 yards, while Eddie Houghton led the way on the ground with 55 yards and a score...Roman SanDoval led the defense with a career-high 14 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack...Holy Cross saw a four-game home winning streak against the Big Green come to an end, losing to Dartmouth at Fitton Field for the first time since 2003...The Big Green evened the all-time series at 36-36-4.
Lafayette Lafayette improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2008 and won its Patriot League opener for the first time since 2009 as an opportunistic defense forced three turnovers in a 20-14 win at Bucknell on Saturday at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium...The game was shown on CBS Sports Network...The Leopards defeated Bucknell for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons, and the sixth in a row in Lewisburg....Lafayette used a Kyni Scott interception to set up a 58-yard
drive and take a 7-0 lead when Greg Kessel rushed in from one yard out with 7:48 left in the first period...Tt stayed that way until Ryan Gralish booted a 46-yard field goal in the second quarter...After a Bucknell score, Lafayette re-gained a 10-point lead when Andrew Shoop threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Hall for a 17-7 advantage that the Leopards carried into the half...Lafayette again used a turnover to set up a score when Jared Roberts' interception and 37-yard return led to a 26-yard field goal by Gralish that made it 20-7 with 6:44 to play in the game...Bucknell got within 20-14 and had the ball with a chance to win, but a sack by Chris Brockman helped the Leopards turn the Bison over on downs and go on to the win...Shoop completed 22-of-34 passes for 278 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions...Jamel Smith had six receptions for 71 yards, while Rodney Gould caught six passes for 55 yards...Mike Boles led the defense with 10 tackles, while Shane Dorner totaled five tackles and three sacks...Lafayette leads the nation in turnover margin (+10) and interceptions (10) and is second in turnvoers forced (13)...Lafayette plays Robert Morris for the first time in program history on Saturday, and looks to go 4-0 for the first time since 1988.
Lehigh After blowing a 14-0 lead, Lehigh used a pair of big plays to go back in front and stopped a two-point conversion in the final minute to top Liberty by a 28-26 final on Saturday at Williams Stadium...The Mountain Hawks extend the nation's longest regular-season winning streak to 13 games, and start 4-0 for the first time since going undefeated in the regular season in 2001...The Mountain Hawks took a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter behind one-yard touchdown
runs from Keith Sherman and Michael Colvin...Liberty tied it at 14-14 by halftime, and went ahead 20-14 in the fourth quarter...Colvin came back with a 68-yard touchdown run that gave Lehigh a 21-20 edge with 7:41 to go, and on Liberty's next possession, Billy Boyko stepped up with a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown to give Lehigh a 28-20 lead with 6:06 to play...Liberty scored a touchdown with 59 seconds to go, but Bryan Andrews broke up the two-point coversion attempt to preserve the two-point lead....Lehigh recovered the ensuing onside kick and picked up a first down to run out the clock and go home with the 28-26 win...Colvin completed 14-of-24 passes for 195 yards and also led the team with 77 rushing yards and two scores...Boyko led the defense with a career-high 14 tackles and a sack to go with the interception return for a touchdown, which was the first interception of his career...Billy O'Brien had 13 tackles and a sack and Sam Loughery added 11 stops...The Mountain Hawks won despite being outgained 488-301, possessing the ball for 17:35 and picking up just nine first downs in the game...Lehigh plays its next two games at home, facing Fordham in its Patriot League opener on Saturday and Columbia on Oct. 6.