After making the most of out a losing season, the Lehigh football team’s run came to an end on Saturday afternoon after the Mountain Hawks were crushed 59-29 by Stony Brook University in the first round of the FCS Playoffs.
Lehigh (5-7, 5-1 Patriot) fell behind 24-7 in the first half and couldn’t regain momentum as the Seawolves proved to be too much for the two-time defending Patriot League champions. Senior wide receiver Troy Pelletier ended his illustrious career by breaking two more records in a 94-yard, 9-reception effort. Pelletier broke the Patriot League record for most receptions in a season with 105 and most career receiving yards with 4,214. His fellow classmate wide receiver Gatlin Casey tallied 107 yards on 11 receptions with both receivers notching a touchdown as well. Junior quarterback Brad Mayes threw for 333 yards in addition to three touchdowns.
Despite these numbers, the Seawolves held the Lehigh offense, which ranked in the top tier of most of country’s offensive categories, in check. While Stony Brook held Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year sophomore running back Dom Bragalone to 75 yards rushing, Lehigh missed out on early opportunities to put points on the board. An offensive pass interference call negated an early touchdown in the first quarter. In that same drive, junior Ed Mish missed a 28-yard field goal to put the Mountain Hawks 3-0.
On the defensive side of the ball, Lehigh struggled as it has all year especially when trying to contain the run game. Stony Brook gashed the Mountain Hawks for 354 yards on the ground with three different ball carriers tallying more than 80 yards rushing. After a scoreless first quarter, Stony Brook broke through with a score in the second quarter and Lehigh never found a way to slow the Seawolves the rest the way as Stony Brook scored 59 points over three quarters.
The loss gave Lehigh its second straight first round exit in the FCS playoffs and its first season with a losing record since 2014.
The team will lose several offensive starters heading into next season, most notably first team All-Patriot League honorees offensive linemen Brandon Short, Zach Duffy and Tim O’Hara to go along with the receiving duo of Casey and Pelletier. Lehigh will also lose second team All-Patriot League defensive lineman Tyler Cavenas.
However, the team will return two of the Patriot League’s top offensive players in Mayes and Bragalone as well as eight defensive starters.