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Hawks Trample Bison in Final Home Game
Squad gains momentum with league win before heading into next week’s matchup with Lafayette College.
The football team celebrated Senior Day with a 31-15 victory over Bucknell University on Saturday at Goodman Stadium.
The victory boosts Lehigh’s overall record to 4-6 and 3-2 in league play. The team, however, has been eliminated from contention for a Patriot League title.
Head Coach Andy Coen said he was happy with the overall play of the team, and that the seniors were able to come away with a win in their final home game.
“This was the best week of the year,” Coen said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Junior linebacker Matt Cohen and the Lehigh defense forced two turnovers in the game, both of which resulted in touchdowns for the Mountain Hawks.
Lehigh set the tone early as sophomore wide receiver Craig Zurn returned the opening kickoff 60 yards to the Bucknell 40-yard line.
The offense took advantage of the field position with a six-play, 40-yard drive, resulting in a 16-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Jay Campbell.
The Bison finished the game with 80 more offensive yards than Lehigh, but the Hawks consistently started off drives with good field position.
Bucknell Head Coach Tim Landis said Lehigh executed its plays well during Saturday’s game.
“We gave them short field opportunities,” Landis said. “They converted the short fields every time we gave it to them.”
Bucknell fumbled the football on its opening drive, which resulted in a 38-yard return by Cohen for a touchdown.
The defensive touchdown put the Hawks up 14-0 with 8:57 remaining in the first quarter.
Bucknell blocked a punt later in the first quarter, forcing senior punter Jason Leo to kick the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
The Hawks held Bucknell’s offense scoreless in the first half, and the Hawks entered halftime with a 14-2 lead.
The Lehigh defense forced the second Bison turnover of the game just one minute into the second half.
Cohen intercepted Bucknell freshman quarterback C.J. Hopson’s pass at the Bucknell 31-yard line and returned it 20 yards to the 11.
Lehigh capitalized with a touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback J.B. Clark to senior wide-receiver Mike Fitzgerald.
The Bison went on to answer the Hawks’ touchdown with an 11-play, 72-yard scoring drive of their own, which ended with a touchdown pass from Hopson to sophomore wide receiver Shaun Pasternak.
But the Hawks would not let up. Clark ended Lehigh’s next drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
The Hawks went into the fourth quarter with a comfortable lead of 28-9.
In the fourth quarter, Leo made a 30-yard field goal to extend the lead to 31-9 with 1:47 remaining in the game.
Hopson scored on an 11-yard touchdown run for Bucknell in its final drive of the game.
The Bison attempted a two-point conversion following the touchdown but failed as Hopson’s pass was intercepted in the end zone.
Lehigh recovered Bucknell’s onside kick and ran the clock out to end the game.
Strong winds factored into the game, affecting the kicking and passing games of each team.
Cohen said the squad is focusing less on celebrating the victory against Bucknell and more on what lies ahead of them, as Lehigh will face Lafayette College next Saturday in Easton, Pa.
“I’m really looking forward to next week and I know the rest of the defense is too,” Cohen said.
Coen said the Lafayette game will be a very emotional one.
He said even though the Hawks may be out of the race for a Patriot League title, there is still a lot at stake in next week’s game.
The Hawks have not beaten the Leopards since 2003. Lafayette is entering Saturday’s game with a 7-3 overall record and a 3-2 record in the Patriot League.
Lehigh will have a momentum advantage, as Lafayette suffered a one- point loss to the College of the Holy Cross this weekend.
Landis said others around the league are anticipating this year’s showdown as well.
“It’s going to be one of those great Lehigh-Lafayette games,” Landis said.
Kickoff Saturday is at 1 p.m.
Hawks trample Bison in final home game
By Daniel Maryanovich, The Brown & White
Photo Credit: Steven Balter/The Brown & White