The Bronx, NY (November 22) In front of an announced crowd of 48,256 at Yankee Stadium, the Lafayette Leopards (5-6, 3-3) defeated the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (3-8, 2-4), 27-7, in the 150th game played between the two FCS, Patriot League schools, the most-played rivalry in college football. Senior Lafayette RB Ross Scheuerman (Allentown, NJ), pronounced Sherman, led the Leopards offense with a career high of 304 rushing yards and scored the games first three touchdowns. The final score does not indicate the total dominance of Lafayette in this historic contest. The rivalry started in Easton, Pennsylvania, home of Lafayette, in 1884. The two schools met one another at least twice from 1884-1901 including three times in 1891, but skipped playing in 1896 due to a contested players ineligibility dispute. Lafayette now leads the series, 78-67-5. For Collegefootballfan.com, this was the fifth time we were able to attend this rivalry, and it was the first time the Leopards came out on top. For Lafayette, it was their second win in a row over their long-time and nearby neighbor situated about 15 miles to their west in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.Our first Lehigh-Lafayette game was won by QB Phil Stambaugh, pictured here on the Yankee Stadium scoreboard, and the “Engineers” over Lafayette in 1999, 14-12.
Lafayette went to work on its second possession starting from its seven-yard line. A 27-yard pass to Scheuerman out of the backfield (3 catches for 54 yards) from QB Zach Zweizig who started for the first time since September 2013, put LC at the LU one. From there, Scheuerman took it over for a 7-0 lead.
Early in the second period on the Leopards next series following a Mountain Hawk punt, a 28-yard pass from Zweizig (13 of 23 passes, 166 yards, 1 TD) to WR Justin Adams (West Amwell, NJ; Notre Dame HS) put the ball once again at the Lehigh one, and once again Scheuerman finished his teams business with a one-yard run to lead, 14-0. Another Lehigh punt put Lafayette deep in their territory at the 13. Scheuerman carried for eight on the first play, and on the second he raced 79 yards for a TD and a commanding 21-0 lead with 3:43 left in the half, and thats how it ended before the teams left the faded green playing surface to make way for a halftime celebration.Lafayette’s Justin Adams hauls in a pass to set up Ross Scheuerman’s second one-yard TD run of the game.
Guest Game Analysts Bob Polecat Marcello, Stash Greshko, and Charlie Pitcher Roberts (Lehigh class of 81), Yankee fans all, were pleased to find out I had reserved a parking space at a garage on 162nd Street just around the corner from a favorite Yankee fan hangout, The Dugout. It was packed with Lafayette and Lehigh fans since tailgating around the neighborhood isnt convenient. For four dollar Pabst Blue Ribbons, it was a perfect pregame meeting place right across the street from the first base side of the stadium. We sat in the upper deck in Section 416. Sitting in the upper deck probably provides the best line of site looking out to centerfield of the ball park as the football playing field goes from end zone to end zone from home plate to dead center. Well be sitting in the left field corner on the end zone when we head back for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on December 27 (our prediction Penn State vs. Boston College). Lehighs Marching 97 and Lafayettes pep band, combined with their dance teams and glee clubs, entertained together for the halftime festivities. Scoreboard videos and PA announcements celebrated the success of alumni from both schools from original founders of IBM to inventors of cortisone to researchers battling Ebola to Joe Maddon, newly named manager of the Chicago Cubs, Lafayette class of 76. Speaking of pinstripes, the Mountain Hawks in visiting white jerseys had brown pinstripes adorned to commemorate the tradition of the team whose field they were playing on. It was a great celebration for the two long-time rivals, but as usual, CSTV prolonged the game and ruined the flow with excessive TV time-outs to assure the networks air time was utilized until 7 pm. Lehigh grad Roberts claimed afterward it was a good time – except for the final score. Charlie had attended the last three Lehigh victories over Lafayette with me. First half stats revealed total dominance by the Leopards with 333 yards in total offense compared to the Hawks 57. Surprisingly, the dominance wasnt more substantiated by the score. Neither team had committed a turnover up to this point in the game.Lafayette and Lehigh bands, dance teams, and choirs pay tribute to their hosts to finish halftime with their rendition of “New York, New York.”
The two teams traded punts until 2:36 remained in the third before Lehigh Freshman RB Chris Leigh swept around left end and down the sideline for a 70-yard TD run to cut the Lafayette lead, 21-7. As dominant as the Leopards had been in the first half, the Mountain Hawks were still within striking distance if they could build on the long run that brought them some short-term momentum.
In the fourth, a Lafayette FG attempt was blocked. Lehighs subsequent drive was followed by Austin Devines 53-yard punt that bounced perfectly sideways to stop on the one-yard line. Devine (Oradell, NJ; Bergen Catholic) averaged 40.8 yards on eight punts and put three inside the Lafayette 20 or got the Hawks deep out of their own territory to impress all day. After a three and out for Lafayette deep in their own territory, Lehigh still had hope and some momentum from their defense to come back starting on their own 46. After a short drive, a loss of three by QB Nick Shafnisky (8 of 19 passes for 81 yards and an INT) gave Lehigh its last gasp chance for a potential comeback on a fourth and nine at the 25, but a sack by frosh LB Brandon Bryant (Cherry Hill, NJ) snuffed it with 7:35 left. Runs by Scheuerman got Lafayette down to the Lehigh 12, but a holding call set Lafayette back 15 yards. On fourth and 21 at the 23, HC Frank Tavani decided to forgo a FG attempt. A swing pass right to WR Matt Mrazek was caught in the flat and he raced the entire distance for a 23-yard score to extend the Leopard lead. The PAT failed and MLB Mark Dodd intercepted Shafniskys last pass to assure the Leopards the win in the 150th game in the most-played rivalry in college football, 27-7.Lehigh blocks Ryan Gralish’s FG attempt.
Neither team will participate in the post-season. Theyre done. College footballs regular season goes so fast! Scheuerman undoubtedly took home the MVP award. His 304 totals rushing yards on the day were the most in an FCS game this season. The Leopards took home another piece of hardware to mark the victory in the 150th game of this historic rivalry. We look forward as always to check out both schools schedules for next season since they are both within easy driving distance for Collegefootballfan.com. Both seem to have some promising young players, and Lehigh is in a rebuilding mode. Its complex at Goodman Stadium is one of our favorite FCS venues to watch a game. Maybe when the two meet for their 151st game next year at Goodman, we can consider celebrating our 500th game since 1979. Its definitely a game and venue to consider. Next Saturday, CFF.com will travel to take our first and only trip to State College this season (a rarity) to see Penn State (6-5, 2-5) host No. 11 CFP team Michigan State (9-2, 6-1) in the Big Ten regular season finales for both. Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and fans!MVP RB Ross Scheuerman (29) takes a hand off deep in Lafayette territory to get the Leopards some breathing room.