Lehigh football moved to 2-0 in the Patriot League and 3-3 overall after a 30-27 overtime win against Fordham on Saturday.
After Fordham kicked a field goal on the first possession of overtime to lead 27-24, a roughing the kicker penalty on Fordham during Austin Henning’s equalizing 25-yard field goal attempt gave Lehigh an opportunity for another drive. Two plays later, junior quarterback Addison Shoup connected with senior wide receiver Devon Bibbens on a four-yard touchdown pass to solidify the victory.
Shoup replaced starting quarterback Tyler Monaco in overtime, after Monaco left the game with an injury.
Coach Tom Gilmore said he is ecstatic about the final outcome, and was pleased with the grit and effort shown by his players.
“That’s something you never want to question, your effort and grit, and these guys have shown that every week,” Gilmore said. “We’re improving — we still have a lot more to go — but they’re going out there and working real hard. And they are toughing through adversity, and I’ll tell you what — there’s a lot to be said for that.”
Three players received Patriot League awards for their performances on Saturday.
Bibbens was named Offensive Player of the Week after finishing with a career-high 10 receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime.
Freshman running back Zathan Hill was awarded Rookie of the Week after rushing for 124 yards on 11 carries, including a 94-yard touchdown run that gave Lehigh a 24-17 edge with 9:19 left in regulation.
Bibbens was instrumental in Hill’s touchdown, blocking Fordham’s corner for 15-20 yards of Hill’s run.
“Everyone is going to talk about (Bibbens) catching the winning touchdown in overtime,” Gilmore said. “Honestly, that other play with him blocking on the perimeter was a much more valuable play, and I think that’s what won the game for us.”
Sophomore running back Rashawn Allen credits the offensive line for stepping up and setting the tone for the rest of the team.
“I think the biggest part was the O-line stepping up,” Allen said. “We were running the ball efficiently and were able to protect the quarterback more.”
Leading the defense was senior linebacker Keith Woetzel, who not only won Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week, but was also named STATS National Defensive Player of the Week with 15 tackles, four sacks and one interception. Woetzel is the first Lehigh player to win a STATS National Player of the Week award since Dominick Bragalone in November 2017.
Although sophomore tight end Alex Snyder was not officially recognized, he became the first Lehigh tight end in 15 years to record over 100 reception yards, locking in 128 on Saturday.
Gilmore said Snyder is “the best tight end in the league,” and he looks forward to seeing how he will contribute throughout the rest of the season.
Bibbens said winning in the Bronx for the first time since 2011 and capitalizing on two consecutive nail-biting Patriot League games is a reflection of the team’s ability to overcome early adversity.
“I think as a group, we just become closer, and we know how to fight…” Bibbens said. “I said earlier in the year, we hit some adversity. There’s some things we could have worked on, but I think (mentality) is what we bought in as a group the most. Just being mentally tough and working together.”
Gilmore said each Patriot League game is going to be a dog fight and will likely come down to the wire. He said he’s extremely proud of the toughness his players have shown so far, especially given the circumstances. The returning players have had to adjust to an entirely new coaching staff, while the entire team had to adapt to a younger roster, as freshmen make up 40 percent of the team.
“I’m really proud, the kids hung in there,” Gilmore said. “They kept working, they bought into what we were selling. I’m really appreciative of that, but I can’t say enough about them, just for the effort and the toughness they’re showing right now.”
The Mountain Hawks are hoping to extend their winning streak to four games on Saturday, and are looking forward to returning to Goodman Stadium for the first time since Sept. 28.
“I’m very excited, it’s always great to be home,” Bibbens said. “We got our new screen, we got a great crowd, we got it all. Goodman Stadium is probably one of the best in the country, and I’m excited to get back and make the home crowd proud.”
The Mountain Hawks will host the Georgetown Hoyas in another Patriot League showdown Saturday at 12:30 p.m. during Lehigh’s Family Weekend.