Last season, a lightning delay at halftime against James Madison University appeared to kill the momentum for Lehigh football. The Hawks went into the half with a 21-10 lead, only to eventually lose 31-28.
This year, the two teams found themselves once again in a lightning delay in the middle of the fourth quarter. But this time there was no question, lightning or not, who the better team was.
Behind 31 unanswered points in the first half, James Madison rolled over Lehigh, 55-17, to hand the Hawks their first loss of the season Saturday afternoon in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
The Dukes racked up 618 yards of total offense, including 269 rushing yards in the win. Lehigh had just 70 rushing yards, 52 of which came from junior quarterback Nick Shafnisky.
“I’m very disappointed in the outcome here today,” coach Andy Coen said after the game. “I really don’t think we put our best foot forward here.”
Despite giving up a touchdown in the first couple minutes, Lehigh bounced back with a 72-yard receiving touchdown from freshman running back Dom Bragalone to tie the game at seven.
It didn’t take long for the game to get out of hand, though. Lehigh hung around for the first quarter, but four touchdowns in a 10-minute span allowed James Madison to quickly take over the game.
Other than Bragalone’s long touchdown, Lehigh struggled to break off many big plays in order to keep up with the no-huddle offense of the Dukes. The Hawks used five running backs throughout the game, but combined they averaged just 2.1 yards per carry.
Senior wide receiver Derek Knott had a good game for Lehigh, totaling 10 catches for 83 yards, both of which were career highs.
Lehigh will play its home opener next Saturday, Sept. 19 at 12:30 p.m. against the University of Pennsylvania.