Rich Sodeke

Injuries and penalties hurt Lehigh, team loses 54-43 to Yale

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Yale University overpowered Lehigh’s football team in a 54-43 shootout Saturday in New Haven.

Yale took over in the second half, outscoring 28-8 Lehigh after halftime. Injuries and penalties killed the Mountain Hawks throughout the game, including one penalty that negated a touchdown and another that negated an interception.

Lehigh fired out to a quick 21-0 lead just halfway through the first quarter, but Yale fired back and scored 16 unanswered points in the second quarter. Lehigh took a 35-26 lead into halftime, and Yale took control in the second half and gained the lead late in the third quarter.

“It’s really frustrating, we just have to play more consistently throughout the whole game,” senior wide receiver Josh Parris said. “We started off fast, but we slowed down.”

The offense was a big factor this week, contributing 521 yards of total offense. Sophomore quarterback Nick Shafnisky had a good first half, but he struggled later. He combined for four touchdowns — three in the air and one on the ground — but threw three interceptions.

Shafnisky finished 20/36 for 311 yards passing. He also added 12 carries for 46 yards and a touchdown.

Brandon Yosha had another very solid game, starting Lehigh off on the right foot with a 59-yard rushing touchdown on just their second offensive play of the game. He finished with eight carries for 75 yards before getting injured and missing the entire second half.

Despite missing junior wide receiver Derek Knott, who will miss the rest of the season with an injury, Lehigh’s receivers played well in the game. Parris had seven catches for 82 yards and a touchdown.

Freshman wide receiver Troy Pelletier, who had two touchdowns last week, had another one this week. He also led the team in receiving yards with 113 on five catches. Senior wide receiver Derek Gaul also added a 53-yard touchdown catch at the end of the third quarter.

Despite this offensive performance though, their defense continued to give up massive amounts of yards. After giving up over 600 yards in both of their games this season, they allowed 683 yards against Yale, the most all season.

“Physical things happen and sometimes you get beat, that’s part of the game of football,” coach Andy Coen said. “Every time the ball is snapped, one guy’s going to win and one guy’s going to lose, that’s the way it goes.”

They did have a couple drives where they forced Yale to kick a field goal instead of allowing another touchdown. Despite this effort, Yale still scored seven touchdowns in the game, which was only the first game of their season.

Sophomore linebacker Pierce Ripanti led the defense this game, totaling 11 tackles and Lehigh’s first sack of the season. Sophomore defensive back Brandon Leaks also had a big game with an interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter.

Injuries really hit the Mountain Hawks hard in this game, losing sophomore linebacker Colton Caslow and senior offensive lineman Shane Rugg to injuries in addition to Yosha. Sophomore center Brandon Short also missed some time in both halves due to injury.

It was a game full of penalties, but they seemed to hurt Lehigh the most. The Mountain Hawks totaled eight penalties for 89 yards, including one that negated a long touchdown reception by Pelletier in the fourth quarter.

“I haven’t seen so many penalties in 29 years of coaching,” Coen said.

The game was just three points short of setting a Yale Bowl record for most points in a game after the teams combined for 97 points.

Lehigh will continue their non-conference schedule next week as they come back home to face Monmouth University on Sept. 27 at 12:30 p.m.

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