Lehigh redshirt freshman Jake Jacobsen holds No. 11 Penn State sophomore Anthony Cassar in the 197 weight class during the Mountain Hawk’s match versus the Nittany Lions on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, at the PPL Center in Allentown. Penn State won a close matchup of two of the top five teams in the nation by a score of 23-19. (Sarah Epstein/B&W Staff)

No. 5 Lehigh nearly pulls off upset over No. 1 Penn State, falling 23-19

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No. 1 Penn State (4-0) squeaked by the Lehigh wrestling team (4-1) 23-19 in front of almost 10,000 people at the PPL Center in Allentown.

After upsetting the No. 4 team in the country in the University of Michigan on Nov. 19, Lehigh aimed at taking down another top Big Ten opponent at home, but this time, the Mountain Hawks were up against the two-time defending national champions.

Lehigh got off to a good start with two pins, the first by former national champion senior, the 125-pound Darian Cruz, and followed by 133-pound redshirt senior Scott Parker.

Continuing momentum into the next bout, redshirt sophomore Luke Karam completed the upset against Penn State’s Jered Cortez, extending Lehigh’s early lead to 15-0.

Lehigh’s hot start hit a brick wall as the team faced off against a string of Penn State’s four returning national champions.

Redshirt senior Cortlandt Schuyler fell to a pin in the first period of the 149-pound weight class at the hands of former national champion Zain Retherford. Following that bout, redshirt senior Ian Brown was tech failed 24-8 by another former national champion, Jason Nolf.

Penn State cut Lehigh’s lead to 4 points before redshirt senior Gordon Wolf gave Lehigh another win, topping Bo Pipher in the 165-pound weight class. Lehigh held a 19-11 lead going into the final four matches.

Penn State was able to take all four of those matches, two of which were decided by 1 point. In the final bout, Penn State’s Nick Nevills was able to ride out redshirt sophomore Jordan Wood in the third period to clinch the victory for Penn State.

Next week, Lehigh will travel to Philadelphia on Sunday to battle fellow EIWA opponents UPenn and Drexel University.

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