Dec. 4, 2010
Newark, Del. - Patriot League champion Lehigh played No. 3 seed Delaware to a standstill throughout the first half, but the Blue Hens scored 28 consecutive points from late in the second quarter through the third period to pull away for a 42-20 victory over the Mountain Hawks in a second-round game of the NCAA Division I Football Championship on Saturday at Delaware Stadium.
The Mountain Hawks, ranked No. 19/18 in the nation, finish their season with a 10-3 record as their eight-game winning streak came to an end. No. 5 Delaware (10-2) advances to the quarterfinals where it will host New Hampshire next Saturday.
"We knew we were playing an outstanding football team, and I think we did some things well but when it came down to it they were a better football team," said Lehigh head coach Andy Coen.
Lehigh junior quarterback Chris Lum put up a memorable performance in defeat, setting five Patriot League single-game playoff records. He completed 35-of-58 passes for 362 yards to set the marks in each category, and also carried seven times for five yards for single-game marks in both plays (65) and yards of total offense (367)
Delaware led 21-13 after a back-and-forth first half where the offenses dominated with three scores apiece. The Blue Hens took the opening kickoff and drove down for a score, keeping the possession alive by converting a 4th-and-10 play from the Lehigh 27 and getting on the board when Andrew Pierce ran in for a five-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead with 9:29 to play in the first quarter.
Lehigh kept its first possession alive on a 3rd-and-7 pass interference penalty, and completions to Ryan Spadola and Jay Campbell moved the Mountain Hawks to the Blue Hen 31 yard line. The Mountain Hawks were faced with a 4th-and-11 to keep the ball, and Lum threw a 23-yard strike to Jake Drwal to set up a first-and-goal at the nine. The Mountain Hawks tied the score with another clutch play, as Lum threw a 13-yard touchdown to Spadola on 3rd-and-goal to even the score at 7-7 with 4:26 to play in the quarter.
Lehigh got the ball right back, as Al Pierce forced a fumble by Tommy Crosby and Casey Eldemire recovered to set the Mountain Hawks up at their own 49. Lum threw a screen pass to Zach Barket for a 20-yard gain on a 3rd-and-6 play to get the Mountain Hawks to the Delaware 16. Lum missed a wide-open Sean Farrell in the end zone on a second-down play from the 20, and the Mountain Hawks were forced to settle for a 28-yard field goal from Tom Randazza to take a 10-7 lead on the first play of the second quarter.
Delaware took the ball back at its own 40, and picked up a 4th-and-inches to keep the drive going at the Lehigh 29. The Blue Hens turned that conversion right into points, with Pat Devlin throwing a 29-yard touchdown to Mark Schenauer to put Delaware back in front, 14-10, with 11:56 left in the second quarter.
Lehigh's John Kennedy returned the ensuing kickoff 41 yards to set the Mountain Hawks up at the 44 yard line. Lum threw a 17-yard pass to Campbell to get Lehigh to the Delaware 37, and kept his hot streak going with a 26-yard strike to Craig Zurn to advance the ball to the 13 yard line. The drive stalled at the seven, and Randazza came in to boot a 25-yard field goal to bring Lehigh within 14-13 with 7:47 left in the period.
Delaware's offense continued to click on its next possession, as the Blue Hens gained 34 yards on a pass from Devlin to Schenauer on their first play to advance to the Lehigh 32. The Blue Hens were looking at yet another fourth down with one yard to go from the Lehigh 23, and Pierce picked it up with a six-yard run to the Lehigh 17. Five plays later, the Blue Hens finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown pass from Devlin to Chris Campbell to take their biggest lead of the half at 21-13 with 3:06 to go.
The defenses stepped up on the next two possessions, as Lehigh's drive stalled at the 48 and the Mountain Hawks followed by forcing a three-and-out by the Blue Hens with the aid of a sack by Mike Groome. The Mountain Hawks got the ball back at the 45 yard line with 55 seconds to play in the first half, and Lum threw for three first downs as Lehigh marched to the Delaware 22 with less than 10 seconds to go in the half. But the Mountain Hawks could not get any closer as Lum's attempt in the endzone was picked off by Anthony Walters to conclude the first half with Lehigh trailing 21-13.
Lehigh went three-and-out to begin the second half, and Delaware answered by going 74 yards on seven plays in under three minutes to take a 28-13 lead when Devlin threw a 38-yard touchdown to Tommy Crosby with 10:09 to play in the third quarter.
Lehigh benefitted from a pair of Delaware mistakes on the next possession, as a personal foul penalty and a pass interference call helped the Mountain Hawks advance to the Blue Hens' 28. Lehigh faced a 4th-and-4 at the 22, and Lum's screen pass to Barket was stuffed for a loss as the Mountain Hawks turned it over on downs with 7:45 to go in the period.
The teams exchanged three-and-outs on the next two possessions, but Delaware won the field-position battle and received the ball at the Lehigh 41 after the Mountain Hawks punted. It only took two plays and 31 seconds for the Blue Hens to get in the endzone and effectively put the game away on David Hayes' 16-yard touchdown run that gave Delaware a 35-13 lead with 4:45 to go in the third quarter.
Lum was intercepted again by Walters and the Blue Hens scored their fourth consecutive touchdown, and third in the third quarter, when Devlin threw a 20-yard pass to Nihja White for a 42-13 lead with just 17 seconds remaining in the period.
Lehigh put an end to Delaware's scoring run on their next possession with a five-play, 84-yard drive that took just over a minute and a half. A 34-yard completion from Lum to Spadola moved the ball into Blue Hen territory before a 19-yard scoring strike from Lum to Matt Fitz got Lehigh back on the board and trimmed Delaware's lead to 42-20 with 13:36 to play in the game.
The Mountain Hawks had some life a few minutes later as Groome forced a fumble and John Veniero recovered and returned it to the 47 yard line to set up good field position with 10:02 to play. The Mountain Hawks picked up a pair of first downs to move to the Delaware 28, then got inside the 10 yard line on a 20-yard screen pass from Lum to Campbell. They took three shots for the endzone from the seven yard line, but each fell incomplete as Lehigh turned it over on downs with 6:48 to go.
"We played with these guys for a half, but we wanted to do more than that," Coen said.
Drwal was Lum's top target with nine receptions for 84 yards, while Fitz caught six for 69 yards and the touchdown and Spadola made five receptions for 72 yards and the score. Spadola's 78 receptions this year tied for the sixth-best single-season mark in Patriot League history. Campbell and Zurn each had four receptions for 58 and 40 yards, respectively.
Pierce and Groome each made 13 tackles to lead the Lehigh defense, with Groome and Colin Newton each registering sacks. Kennedy returned six kickoffs for 139 yards with a long of 41.
"Our kids battled the whole game, their effort never waned and we've got nothing to be embarrassed about here today," Coen said. "We had a great season, won 10 football games, went undefeated in the Patriot League and won at our archrival, and went and beat the champion of the Missouri Valley Football Conference."
"For us it ended here today, and the hardest part was just saying goodbye to the seniors but we'll be here next year. "
Patriot League Postseason Notebook
*Under the new 20-team postseason format, this was the first second-round game for a Patriot League team.
*Lehigh has never won a playoff game after the first round, falling to 0-4 in either second-round or quarterfinal contests. The Mountain Hawks are 4-6 all-time in the FCS postseason, the most wins for a Patriot League team in the event.
*Patriot League teams fell to 8-18 overall in the postseason, and 4-14 against an opponent from the Colonial Athletic Association.
*Delaware improved to 4-0 in the postseason against Patriot League competition, also beating Lehigh in the 2000 quarterfinals, Colgate in the 2003 national title game and Lafayette in the first round in 2004.
*Patriot League teams are 1-12 all-time against the Blue Hens in regular season or postseason games.
*Delaware took a 30-16 lead in the series with Lehigh, and has defeated the Mountain Hawks in nine of the past 10 matchups.
*Lehigh was the first Patriot League team to play a game beyond the first round since Colgate went to the national title contest in 2003. The Mountain Hawks broke a nine-game overall and eight-game first-round playoff losing streak for the Patriot League with their 14-7 win at Northern Iowa last Saturday.
*All three of Lehigh's losses this season came against CAA opponents, as the Mountain Hawks fell to Villanova on Sept. 11 and New Hampshire on Sept. 25.
*Lehigh's eight-game winning streak was the longest of any team in the postseason field.
*Lum broke the Patriot League single-game postseason marks for completions, attempts and passing yards that were set just last year by Holy Cross quarterback Dominic Randolph, who completed 31-of-51 passes for 347 yards in a first-round loss to Villanova.
*Lehigh also set the team single-game marks in completions (35), attempts (59) and passing yardage (362).