Davis Heave to Hurt Beats Lehigh 23-19; Lafayette Claims Share of Second Straight Patriot League Championship

Go Leopards! Co-captain David Nelson (38) and the Leopards raise the Patriot League championship trophy after a thrilling 23-19 victory at Lehigh.
Co-captain David Nelson (38) and the Leopards raise the Patriot League championship trophy after a thrilling 23-19 victory at Lehigh.

Nov. 19, 2005

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BETHLEHEM, Pa. (www.lafayette.edu) - Jonathan Hurt caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Pat Davis on fourth-and-10 with 38 seconds left to give Lafayette a 23-19 win over Lehigh and a share of its second straight Patriot League championship on Saturday afternoon at Goodman Stadium.

Hurt was named MVP of the game after running 18 times for 125 yards and a touchdown, and hauling in the game-winning score.

Davis, a senior who entered after junior Brad Maurer was knocked out of the game with a separated shoulder on the first series, led the Leopards on an 88-yard drive after they assumed possession at the 12-yard line, trailing 19-17, with 2:04 remaining. He hit Brandon Stanford for 18 yards on the first play, and later found Archie Fisher for eight yards and Shaun Adair for 22 yards to earn first downs and move the ball to the Lehigh 37.

Three consecutive incomplete passes brought up fourth down, and head coach Frank Tavani sent Rick Ziska on to attempt a potential 54-yard field goal. After a Lehigh timeout, the offense went back on the field. Davis was forced out of the pocket, rolled right and found Hurt down the sideline, placing the ball just over the outstretched arms of a defender. Hurt caught the ball inside the five and stepped into the end zone to put Lafayette ahead 23-19. Davis' pass on the two-point conversion was incomplete.

 

 

Lehigh quarterback Sedale Threatt threw a pair of incomplete passes after Gerran Walker returned the kick to the 39-yard line, and was intercepted by Larry Johnson on third down to put the game away.

The victory gives Lafayette its third win over Lehigh in four seasons, the first win by the Leopards at Lehigh since 1989, and a piece of the Patriot League championship for the second straight season. Colgate secured the league's automatic bid into the Division I-AA playoffs with a 34-7 win at Georgetown. Both the Leopards and the Raiders finish at 5-1 in the Patriot League, but Colgate dealt Lafayette its lone league loss by an 18-15 margin on November 5 at Fisher Field.

The Leopards received the opening kick, and the game's opening sequence was nearly disastrous. Maurer, a junior who was MVP in Lafayette's 24-10 win last season, was knocked out of the game on the third offensive play with a separated right shoulder. Greg Petrosky returned the punt 40 yards to the 30-yard line, and Threatt ran 21 yards to the nine. Lafayette didn't surrender a yard in three plays, and Justin Musiek missed a 26-yard field goal wide right.

Lehigh began its next three possessions from its own 43, midfield, and the Lafayette 46 but went three-and-out on all three series. Hurt broke a 62-yard run on the first play of Lafayette's fifth offensive series before the Lehigh defense forced a turnover on downs.

Larry Johnson made the first big play of the game for the Leopards, blocking a punt by Jason Leo after the freshman mishandled a low snap. Leo covered the football at the five-yard line, where Lafayette assumed possession. After Hurt was stopped for no gain, Davis hit Archie Fisher for the touchdown with nine seconds left in the first quarter. Ziska added the extra point.

Lehigh drove 50 yards on 15 plays to get on the board with a 34-yard field goal by Leo. The Mountain Hawks were aided by a personal foul after the Leopards forced a stop at the 48-yard line on one of Blake Costanzo's three first-half sacks.

Lafayette went ahead 10-3 with 1:14 remaining in the half as Ziska hit a 45-yard field goal. Hurt set up the score with a 26-yard carry on first-and-15 from the 46. An interception by Trey Martell on the second play of Lehigh's series led to a 47-yard field goal attempt by Ziska with seven seconds left, but the kick fell short.

Threatt led Lehigh on an eight play, 40-yard drive that ended with a 25-yard field goal by Leo to slice the deficit to 10-6 just over six minutes into the second half. Brannan Thomas gave Lehigh possession with an interception at the Lehigh 46.

Walker gave the Mountain Hawks a 13-10 lead with 6:38 left in the third quarter, going 79 yards with a screen pass from Threatt. Lafayette responded with an 11 play, 41-yard drive that ended with a pair of incompletions on third and fourth down from the 31.

An interception by Torian Johnson was negated by a defensive holding call in the middle of an 11 play, 64-yard drive by Lehigh. Threatt was stopped at the four-yard line on a third-down scramble, and Leo extended the advantage to 16-10 with 14:42 remaining in the game. Leo made a 32-yard field goal, his fourth of the game, to put Lehigh ahead 19-10 with 10:25 showing on the clock.

Lafayette fumbled the ensuing kick but Joe Russo came out of the pile with the ball for the Leopards. Joe Ort hauled in a 30-yard throwback pass, as Davis threw a lateral to Stanford, who returned the ball to Davis before tossing the ball downfield, on the first play to move the ball to the Lehigh 35-yard line. Davis had runs of 11 and 14 yards to move the offense to the one, and Hurt went over the pile for the score. Ziska knocked in the extra point to make the score 19-17 with 8:02 left.

Dion Witherspoon sacked Threatt and forced a fumble at the Lehigh 43 and Kyle Sprenkle recovered the ball at the 36 to end the Mountain Hawks' next possession, but Lafayette didn't net a yard and turned the ball over on downs with 4:10 remaining. Lehigh picked up one first down before Witherspoon forced Threatt to throw the ball away on third-and-seven, setting up Lafayette's championship finish.

Lafayette will await the decision of the NCAA Division I-AA Championship selection committee, which will determine if the Leopards are placed in the 16-team field. The bracket will be unveiled on Sunday at 1 p.m. on ESPNews.

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