Update: Lehigh junior wide receiver Ryan Spadola was suspended by the NCAA for Saturday's game.
Center Valley, Pa.-- No. 6 Lehigh tries to become just the second Patriot League team to advance to the semifinals of the NCAA Division I Football Championship when the Mountain Hawks visit No. 4 North Dakota State in a quarterfinal contest on Saturday at 4 p.m. on ESPN3.
Lehigh made it to the quarterfinals with a 40-38 win at No. 8 Towson last week. North Dakota State won its second-round contest 26-14 at home against No. 17 James Madison. The Bison are the No. 2 seed in the field.
The Mountain Hawks have never won a quarterfinal game, falling when they advanced to the round in 1998, 1999 and 2001. Lehigh did it make it to the FCS semifinals in both 1979 and 1980, prior to the formation of the Patriot League when the tournament was a four-team event.
Lehigh will be led by senior quarterback Chris Lum, who was named one of three Walter Payton Award finalists last week. Lum completed 36-of-48 passes for 351 yards and a touchdown in the win over Towson, and should set multiple Patriot League single-season records on Saturday. Junior wide receiver Ryan Spadola comes into the game five receptions from a single-season Patriot League record after earlier setting the receiving yards mark. He is 99 yards away from breaking the FCS single-season receiving mark of 1,712.
The Mountain Hawks will face a North Dakota State team that won the Missouri Valley Football Conference and was ranked No. 1 late in the season. Lehigh defeated MVFC champion Northern Iowa on the road in the first round of last year's postseason.
The winner of the Lehigh/North Dakota State came will face the winner of Saturday's contest between Maine and Georgia Southern next week.
Patriot League Notebook
Lehigh Back in Quarterfinals for First Time Since 2001 Lehigh earned its first trip to the FCS quarterfinals in a decade, and the first for any Patriot League team since 2003, by beating Colonial Athletic Association champion Towson 40-38 in the second round on Saturday. The Mountain Hawks previously made the quarterfinals after first-round wins in 1998, 1999 and 2001, though they fell in the round each time. It was Lehigh's first win outside of the first round as a Patriot League member.
Patriot League in the Quarterfinals The Mountain Hawks are making their fourth appearance in the quarterfinals, and the sixth for a Patriot League team. The Patriot League has a 1-4 record in the round, with the lone victory coming in 2003 when Colgate beat Western Illinois 28-27 on its way to a national runner-up finish.
Playoff Success Against the MVFC The Patriot League has enjoyed its most success in the postseason against the Missouri Valley Football Conference, which North Dakota State won this season. Patriot League teams are 3-1 against the MVFC in the postseason, with Lehigh holding a 2-0 mark. The Mountain Hawks beat Western Illinois 37-7 in the first round in 2000 and won at Northern Iowa 14-7 in the first round last season. Colgate beat Western Illinois in the only quarterfinal matchup between the leagues in 2003.
Lehigh One of the Hottest Teams in the Playoffs The Mountain Hawks won their 10th consecutive game on Saturday at Towson, giving them the second-longest streak of any team remaining in the FCS playoffs. The only team with a longer run is undefeated Sam Houston State, which has claimed 14 wins in a row. Lehigh's only loss came in overtime to New Hampshire, which also made the postseason, on Sept. 10. The Mountain Hawks have a 21-4 record in the last two seasons, and have won 22 straight games against teams outside of the CAA dating back to the 2009 season. Lehigh is 6-0 on the road this year and has won 11 of its past 12 road games.
At Home in the Dome? Lehigh certainly enters a tough environment on Saturday, as the Fargodome is expected to be at its 18,700 capacity for the quarterfinal matchup. But Lehigh proved it could handle a dome atmosphere a year ago, as the Mountain Hawks went to the UNI-Dome and came away with a 14-7 victory at Northern Iowa in the first round.
Mountain Hawks Become First in a Decade with Repeat Outright Titles By winning its second consecutive outright Patriot League title and going 5-0 in League action for the second year in a row, Lehigh accomplished a feat that had not been seen in a decade. The Mountain Hawks were the first program with back-to-back outright titles in undefeated seasons since Lehigh did it in 2000 and 2001 as part of a run of four consecutive titles (1998-01) overall. The last program to repeat in any fashion had been Lafayette who won three straight League titles from 2004-06.
Locking Up the Lambert? Lehigh has an excellent chance to win its first ECAC Lambert Cup since 2001 after beating Towson last week. The Mountain Hawks remain at No. 1 in the poll, with No. 2 Maine as the only other team still playing in the FCS postseason. Patriot League teams have won the Lambert Cup, which goes to the top team in the East, five times.
Payton Finalist Lum Nearing Single-Season Records Lehigh senior quarterback Chris Lum was announced as one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award last week, and will attend the awards ceremony on Jan. 6 when the recipient of the honor given to the Most Outstanding Player in the nation is announced. After finding out that information on Thursday, Lum came out on Saturday and played another spectacular game by going 36-of-48 for 351 yards and a touchdown in the win over Towson. He is now at 333 completions, 4,090 passing yards, 32 passing touchdowns and 4,209 yards of total offense for the season, and figures to break Patriot League single-season records for at least completions, yards and total offense on Saturday. Lum stands two touchdown passes away from the mark.
Spadola Putting Together Top Season for Patriot League Wideout Lehigh junior Ryan Spadola is having the best-ever season for a Patriot League wide receiver. He has already recorded the League record for receiving yardage, with his total of 1,614 almost 200 ahead of second place and 99 from breaking the FCS record. Now, Spadola is up to 96 receptions on the season, just five away from the single-season League record of 101 set by Fordham's Javarus Dudley in 2003. His 13 receptions and 152 yards on Saturday set Patriot League records for a playoff game.
NCAA Division I Football Championship - Quarterfinals
Series: First Meeting TV:ESPN3 (Trey Bender, Jay Taylor)
No. 6 Lehigh makes the first appearance for a Patriot League team in the FCS quarterfinals since 2003 when it visits No. 4 North Dakota State on Saturday afternoon...The game will be streamed live on ESPN3...The Mountain Hawks advanced to the round by winning at No. 8/9 Towson, the Colonial Athletic Association champion, 40-38 on Saturday...North Dakota State, the No. 2 seed in the playoff field, defeated No. 17 James Madison 26-14 at home in its second-round matchup last week...Lehigh has never faced North Dakota State, but does have a good history against the Missouri Valley Football Conference in the postseason...The Mountain Hawks are 2-0 in the postseason against the MVFC, with first-round wins at Western Illinois in 2000 (37-7) and Northern Iowa last season (14-7)...Last year's matchup at Northern Iowa also gave Lehigh exposure to playing in a dome...The Patriot League is 3-1 all-time against the MVFC in the postseason, with Colgate beating Western Illinois in the quarterfinals in 2003...The teams share a common opponent, each beating Lafayette at home this season...The Mountain Hawks closed the regular season with a 37-13 win over the rival Leopards on Nov. 20, while the Bison kicked off their 2011 campaign by beating Lafayette 42-6 at the Fargodome on Sept. 3...The winner moves on to the FCS semifinals next week, where they would face the winner of Saturday's matchup pitting Maine at No. 3 Georgia Southern.
Lehigh In a game filled with offense, it was a defensive play that made the difference as No. 6 Lehigh came away with a 40-38 victory at No. 8 Towson in a second-round game of the NCAA Division I Football Championship on Saturday at Johnny Unitas Stadium...With the score tied at 38, Lehigh's Tom Bianchi sacked Towson quarterback Grant Enders for a safety with 5:14 to go to give the Mountain Hawks their first lead of the second half...The Mountain Hawks then picked up three first downs to run out the clock, including a 10-yard pass from Chris Lum to Zach Hayden on a 4th-and-3 play with 44 seconds left to seal the victory...Lehigh became the first Patriot League team since Colgate in 2003 to advance to the quarterfinals...Lum, a Walter Payton Award finalist, completed 36-of-48 passes for 351 yards and a touchdown, and also ran for a score. Ryan Spadola caught 13 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown, while Matt Fitz carried for 49 yards and two touchdowns and also threw a touchdown pass. Lehigh held a 482-339 edge in total offense...The game was back and forth with six ties as each team answered the other throughout...Lehigh had leads of 3-0, 10-3 and 17-10 in the first half, while Towson came back to tie each time...In the second half, Towson took leads of 24-17, 31-24 and 38-31 with the Mountain Hawks tying the score with a touchdown three times before the game-winning safety by Bianchi...Lehigh won a playoff game for the second year in a row after a 14-7 victory in the first round at Northern Iowa last season...Spadola is up to 96 receptions on the season, just five off the Patriot League single-season record...He came into the game already holding the Patriot League single-season record for receiving yards, and boosted that total to 1,614...Lum is at 333 completions, 4,090 passing yards, 32 passing touchdowns and 4,209 yards of total offense, leaving him in range to break Patriot League single-season records in each category...Lehigh earned its second consecutive postseason bid by winning a second straight outright Patriot League title...The Mountain Hawks became the first team in a decade to win consecutive outright titles, and added to their accomplishment by becoming the first since the 2000 and 2001 Lehigh squads to finish undefeated in the Patriot League in back-to-back years...Lum was named the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year and the first-team All-League player at the position, with both selections coming unanimously...Lum is also one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award, presented to the Most Outstanding Player in the Football Championship Subdivision...Head Coach Andy Coen is a candidate for the Eddie Robinson Award, given to the top coach in the FCS, for the second season in a row...Eight offensive teammates joined Lum with first-team All-Patriot League recognition, including running back Zach Barket, wide receivers Jake Drwal and Ryan Spadola, tight end Jamel Haggins, fullback/H-back Mark Wickware and offensive linemen Jim Liebler, Troy McKenna and Mike Vuono...Defensive lineman Ben Flizack and linebacker Mike Groome made the first team from the defense... The 11 first-team selections tied for the second-most in Patriot League history, and were the top mark since the 1998 Lehigh team also had that total...The Mountain Hawks set records with nine first-team and 10 overall selections on the All-Patriot League offense.