BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Colgate fought back in the second half with three touchdowns to rally past No. 5/8 Lehigh 35-24 and win the Patriot League football title on Saturday at Goodman Stadium.
The Raiders claim their seventh overall title, and first since 2008. Colgate earns the Patriot League's automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Football Championship, with the brackets unveiled on Nov. 18. The Raiders improve to 7-3 overall and complete a perfect Patriot League season with a 5-0 record. They will try to finish out with a win against Fordham next week before entering the postseason.
The Mountain Hawks see a list of winning streaks come to an end as they suffer their first loss to a Patriot League opponent since 2009. Lehigh had won 18 in a row in the regular season and 18 straight against Patriot League opponents, the second-longest run in League history. Lehigh falls to 9-1 overall and 3-1 in the Patriot League, and is still in the hunt for an at-large berth to the postseason.
Colgate's double-threat rushing attack did not disappoint, with Gavin McCarney rushing 24 times for 121 yards and three touchdowns and Jordan McCord carrying 35 times for 118 yards and two scores. The Raiders trailed 24-14 at the half, but grinded out long drives throughout the second half as they finished with more than 43 minutes in time of possession.
Lehigh had all the momentum early, going ahead less than three minutes into the game on a two-yard touchdown run by Zach Barket and padding the lead to 14-0 on Keith Sherman's one-yard touchdown with 13:46 to play in the second quarter. Colgate got on the board with a one-yard touchdown run by McCord, but Lehigh answered with Michael Colvin's four-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Coyle with 3:39 to go until the half for a 21-7 lead. Colgate used a short field after a failed onsides kick attempt to get within 21-14 on McCarney's 10-yard touchdown run with 1:07 to play until the half, but Lehigh made it 24-14 at the break when Jake Peery hit a 43-yard field goal as time expired.
Lehigh had three possesions in the second half to try and extend the lead, but the Mountain Hawks punted twice and had a turnover as the Colgate defense held strong. The Raider offense began to find its stride late in the third quarter, putting together a 10-play, 80-yard drive to cut the lead to 24-21 on McCarney's nine-yard touchdown run with 26 seconds left in the period. After Colgate forced another three-and-out, McCarney threw a 57-yard pass to Ryne Morrison to set up the quarterback's third touchdown run of the day that gave the Raiders their first lead at 28-24 with 9:14 to play. The Raider defense came through again with a three-and-out on Lehigh's possession and Colgate put away the win with an 11-play, 62-yard drive that took 6:56 off the clock and ended with McCord's eight-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left. Colgate's Mike Yeager came up with his second interception of the day with 31 seconds to go to clinch the win and the Patriot Leauge title for the Raiders.
McCarney completed 13-of-21 passes for 180 yards without a touchdown or interception as he once again went over 300 yards of total offense. The junior quarterback now has 21 rushing touchdowns as he came into the weekend leading the FCS in scoring. Yeager paced the defensive effort with five tackles to go with the two interceptions. Colgate beat Lehigh for the first time since 2009.
Colvin completed 15-of-29 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown for Lehigh, but also threw the two picks. Barket had 54 yards and a score on the ground, while Ryan Spadola had seven receptions for 86 yards and 223 all-purpose yards in the game. Sam Loughery led the Lehigh defense with 14 tackles. The Mountain Hawks had been the last undefeated team in the FCS.
In other action on Saturday, Georgetown beat Bucknell 10-3 and Fordham knocked off Lafayette 36-27 in Patriot League play while Holy Cross dropped a 31-30 heartbreaker at Wagner in non-League action. A recap of those contests is included here
Recaps from each school and the box score from the contest are included below.