Nov. 21, 2009
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Lehigh scored on its first possession in overtime and No. 22/21 Lafayette was intercepted on the first play of its drive as Lehigh won the 145th meeting of College Football's Most-Played Rivalry 27-21 on Saturday at Goodman Stadium.
In overtime, Lehigh quarterback JB Clark hit Jake Drwal for 17-yard pass and first down. The next play, Clark connected with Alex Wojdowski for a touchdown. Jake Peery's PAT missed and Lehigh led 27-21. Clark was the game MVP for the second straight year, going 22-for-38 for 292 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Lafayette offense and Rob Curley took over on the 25-yard line. Curley was picked off on the first play of the Leopards' possession. Al Pierce intercepted the pass in the flat intended for Jerome Rudolph to end the game. It was just the second overtime game in the series history with overtime play beginning in 1995.
Curley ended the day 21-for-28 for 300 yards and three touchdowns. With his second of three touchdowns, Curley set a new Lafayette single-season mark for touchdowns with 28, surpassing Tom Kirchhoff's record of 26 in 1992. Curley also set new single-season records for completions (231) and already owning the single-season record for passing yardage with 3,044 yards.
The Leopards finish the season 8-3 overall and 3-2 in the Patriot League, with their fifth straight non-losing season. Lehigh ended 4-7, 3-2.
Late in the first quarter, Lehigh punted the ball and backed up the Leopards to their own two-yard line. Lafayette's offense dug in and marched down the field. Less than two minutes into the second quarter, Curley found Mitchell Bennett in the corner of the endzone for a seven-yard TD reception. That catch capped the Leopards' longest drive of the season, 98 yards over 7:39.
Lafayette had another solid opportunity late in the second quarter. The Leopards punted and Lehigh called for a fair catch. Jarard Cribbs muffed the punt and Lafayette special teams' standout DeAndre' Morrow recovered the ball at the Lehigh 41-yard line. The Lafayette offense went four and out.
Lehigh tied the game with 28 seconds left in the first half on a two-yard pass from Clark to James Flynn. Lafayette sacked Lehigh three times on the drive but could not keep the Mountain Hawks from converting three third-down opportunities. The Leopards were whistled for pass interference in the endzone on the 80-yard drive prior to the score, one of nine Lafayette penalties in the first half. Lehigh was not called for any penalties in the first 30 minutes and just one for the game.
The Leopards received the ball to open the second half and it took them fewer than five minutes to score. Lafayette used a mix of the run and pass, including a 29-yard run by Jerome Rudolph to move the ball to the Lehigh 49. A 14-yard Curley to Greg Stripe connection left Lafayette 1st-and-goal at the Lehigh three. Curley hit Michael Bolton for a three-yard completion to give Lafayette a 14-7 lead. The drive covered 82 yards on nine plays.
Lehigh tied the game on a strange play. Nathan Padia was back to return a punt, caught the ball inside the 10-yard line, began to run wide and then fumbled it into the endzone after starting his run. John Veniero recovered it in the endzone for the TD. The subsequent PAT hit the upright but bounced through to tie the game at 14-14 with 8:31 left in the third quarter.
The Leopards looked to take the lead as the game moved to the fourth quarter. Mark Layton made one of six catches on the afternoon for 32 yards to the Lehigh 18 and finished with 98 receiving yards. Lafayette had the ball 1st-and-goal at the six-yard line and faced 3rd-and-goal at the two line when the teams switched ends. Lafayette gave the ball to Tyrell Coon on two straight opportunities, but Lehigh stopped both chances and squelched Lafayette's 57-yard drive.
Lehigh converted three third-down opportunities on its next drive. Clark's 63-yard pass to De'Vaughn Gordon was the big blow, setting Lehigh up 1st-and-goal at the Lafayette five-yard line. Lehigh took the 21-14 lead on a 1-yard run by Anthony Fossati following a 97-yard drive on 12 plays..
With four and a half minutes left to work with, Curley worked the ball down the field. He aided his own cause with a 21-yard run on 1-and-20 that helped set up a 34-yard, game-tying strike to Kyle Hayes. Rodriguez connected on the PAT to cap-off a 75-yard drive and tie the game at 21-21 with 1:43 remaining.
A holding call against the Mountain Hawks made it 1st-and-20 and backed them up to their own 44-yard line. After failing to convert on 3rd-and-15, they gave the ball back to Lafayette but with only six seconds on the clock, the Leopards took a knee to send the game into overtime.
Bucknell defeated Holy Cross 23-17, which with a Lafayette win, would have handed Lafayette a share of the Patriot League title.
Saturday's Attendance: 15,714
Playing with injuries that required a hospital visit on Friday, Maurice White finished off his career with a valiant effort, carrying 10 times for 55 yards while making three catches for 22 yards.
Mitchell Bennett left the game in the first half with a knee injury and did not return.
Lehigh had a negative 10 (-10) yards rushing in the first half to 75 for Lafayette.
Saturday's game was carried nationally on ESPN Game Plan and the College Gameday crew weighed in with their picks...Kirk Herbstreit picked Lafayette while Lee Corso picked Lehigh.
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