Junior linebacker Keith Woetzel and freshman defensive back Brandon Spencer tackle UC Davis receiver Kris Vaughn on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, at UC Davis Health Stadium. Lehigh lost 41-13. (Owen Yancher/Enterprise Photo)

Mountain Hawks fail to repeat 1977 outcome against UC Davis

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The Mountain Hawks fell to 0-3 after losing 41-13 to No. 4/5 UC Davis in California this past Saturday, Sept. 14.  

Saturday’s game marked the first matchup between the two teams since the 1977 Knute Rockne Bowl — the NCAA Division II Semifinal—when the Mountain Hawks walked away with a 39-30 win. 

Coach Tom Gilmore said during the postgame press conference that Lehigh wasn’t able to execute at the level UC Davis did on Saturday. 

“We obviously weren’t ready for this level of play at this point in time,” Gilmore said. “But I hope we learned a lot from it. We’ll watch film, see ways we can improve.”  

Although Lehigh traveled to the West Coast, players don’t see the long road trip as a valid excuse for their collective performance on game day. 

Sophomore running back RaShawn Allen said the flight, time difference and warmer climate didn’t have any effect on the team’s play. No external factors could have been attributed to the disappointing final outcome. 

Lehigh recorded its only two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Senior quarterback Tyler Monaco found senior wide receiver Devon Bibbens for 67 yards, and backup quarterback junior Addison Shoup connected with Bibbens in the final play of the game. Shoup’s touchdown pass was the first of his collegiate career. 

With seven receptions for 101 yards, Bibbens ended the game as the Mountain Hawks’ leading receiver. 

Lehigh conceded seven sacks and was held to 260 total yards on offense. Monaco threw for 171 yards and one touchdown, while Shoup completed six of seven passes for 31 yards. 

Aggies’ senior quarterback Jake Maier recorded 419 total yards, 389 passing yards and four passing touchdowns. UC Davis separated itself in the fourth down conversion category, converting six of its nine attempts. 

Junior wide receiver Jorge Portorreal said traveling to the West Coast to compete in a Division I football game was an experience that he and his teammates will never forget.

“Just the experience of getting on the flight and going to California while representing your university is an opportunity that most people won’t get,” Portorreal said. 

Portorreal also said competing against a talented program like UC Davis helps Lehigh prepare for future matchups and work toward its goal of winning the Patriot League Championship.

With its first bye week of the season, Lehigh is looking to use the extra time to refocus and re-energize before its fourth game. 

Allen said the team will prioritize improvement during these next two weeks while getting players physically and mentally healthy. 

Despite the slow start, Gilmore said he feels confident that his young team will continue to develop during the bye week. He also said he might need to consider changing positions to better suit the team.

“I don’t think it’s a lack of effort,” Gilmore said. “I mean we obviously need to do a better job as coaches getting these guys in better positions. And as players, we need to stay disciplined and stay in our zones and react to the quarterback in those situations better than we did.” 

Lehigh will look for its first win against Merrimack (1-2) at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, at Goodman Stadium.

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