The 24 seniors on Lehigh’s roster will walk out of Goodman Stadium for the final time with the taste of victory after a 30-27 win over Colgate University.
With the win, Lehigh moves to 3-7 on the season and 2-3 within the Patriot League. With the loss, Colgate dropped to 4-7 on the season and 2-3 within the Patriot League.
The Hawks’ offense was strong on Saturday, scoring 30 points, a feat the team has only accomplished in two other games this year. The first came against Yale University on Sept. 20 in New Haven, Connecticut in a 54-43 loss. The second was in its victory against Cornell by a score of 31-14.
Lehigh’s offense was led by sophomore quarterback Nick Shafnisky, who passed for 204 yards on 19 attempts and a touchdown. Shafnisky was efficient passing the ball on Saturday, completing 19 of 22 passes with no interceptions. The Pennsylvania native was also productive on the ground, rushing for 84 yards on 19 carries. Shafnisky was aided by senior wide receiver Josh Parris, who reeled in six receptions for 84 yards.
The game meant a great deal in providing the seniors with one last home victory at Goodman Stadium. For Parris, this is a game he will remember for the rest of his life.
“To end my career here on a high note is definitely a positive,” Parris said. “I love this team, I love my guys, I wouldn’t want to go to war with anyone else. I’m proud of this team.”
Lehigh came out firing, scoring on its first two possessions. After an 11-play drive by Colgate to start the game, Lehigh took possession with ten minutes remaining in the first quarter. Led by a balanced attack, Lehigh marched down the field on a 16-play, 88-yard drive. The drive was capped off by senior Rich Sodeke’s six-yard touchdown run.
Following a short Colgate drive that netted negative three yards, Lehigh received the ball back and showcased another strong drive, going 44 yards on 10 plays and converting on sophomore kicker Ryan Pandy’s 43-yard field goal.
After finding itselfs in a 10-0 hole, Colgate engineered a six-play, 40-yard drive, which totaled just under three minutes of possession. However, the drive was not long enough. On the ensuing kickoff, with less than a minute left in the first half, Lehigh kick returner Rich Sodeke returned a Colgate kickoff 85 yards to give Lehigh a 17-7 lead.
“That play was huge,” coach Andy Coen said. “He did a great job. He did not hesitate. That’s our drill. If it’s a short call, you just go, and everyone else tries to do their part. He really made a nice move initially to avoid the first guy; Then, it was right down the sideline after that.”
But the Hawks were not finished yet. After receiving the ball with 48 seconds on the clock, the Red Raiders ran just one play before junior linebacker Matthew Laub intercepted a Colgate pass. Aided by a Colgate penalty, Pandy converted on a 34-yard field goal.
Laub stood out as one of Lehigh’s best defensive players on Saturday, recording nine solo tackles, including three tackles for a loss totaling 29 yards, two sacks for 24 yards, and one interception.
“This was probably the best day of football I can remember,” Laub said. “It feels great to have a day like that.”
Following the intermission, Lehigh went on a 15-play 68-yard drive capped off by another Pandy field goal. However, the Red Raiders refused to go down without a fight. Colgate began its rally by scoring a touchdown in the third quarter and two in the fourth quarter, but fell just short of a victory.
Colgate’s turnovers proved to be its downfall. Freshman quarterback Bret Mooney threw two interceptions at crucial points in the game. The first was at the end of the first half, which led to a Lehigh field goal. The second came with less than 10 seconds left in the game and sealed the victory for the Mountain Hawks.
Lehigh will now begin its preparation for the 150th Lehigh-Lafayette Rivalry game, which will be played on Nov. 22 at 3:30 p.m. in Yankee Stadium. Lehigh will be looking to avenge last year’s loss as it faces the 4-6 Leopards.
“Now we can play the revenge card to our advantage,” Coen said. “I don’t like losing to these people.”