Lehigh football suffered a 20-3 loss in the spring season opener today against Holy Cross, the defending Patriot League Champions.
It was their first game since Nov. 23, 2019, when they lost 17-16 to Lafayette off of a game-winning field goal.
“I think everyone associated with the program was extremely excited to play after such a long layoff, and it was really great to be out there,” said head coach Tom Gilmore. “ It was a beautiful day for football, but I’m really disappointed in the way we played. Even with all of the circumstances, we knew we were dealing with—I really felt like we could have played a lot better.”
The team hasn’t had much time to practice together, and it looked it on the offensive side. Lehigh only had 137 total yards of offense today. Defensively, the Mountain Hawks only gave up 209 yards.
Sophomore defensive back TyGee Leach led Lehigh with nine tackles.
“He’s had a dominant preseason,” Gilmore said. “God bless him. We’ve asked him to do a lot. He’s really playing three and four different positions out there because of depth and some injuries that we’ve had. He’s just a really smart, hard-nosed player. He’s out here after the game telling me everything he did wrong, and that’s the kind of player you want.”
A huge key to the Crusaders’ win was they were able to convert Lehigh’s turnovers to points, while the Mountain Hawks struggled to do the same.
On Holy Cross’s first offensive possession, they fumbled, and the Mountain Hawks defense quickly scooped up the ball at the 40-yard line. Lehigh drove down to the red zone and kicked a field goal, but sophomore kicker Dylan Van Dusen couldn’t convert.
Holy Cross got the ball back after the missed field goal and turned it over again when Leach intercepted the ball. Van Dusen made up for his miss and put the Mountain Hawks up 3-0 with 7:54 in the first quarter.
A Cross Wilkinson fumble on the five-yard line led to a Crusaders touchdown, which was the first of the game to put them up 7-3. After their touchdown, it gave Holy Cross some momentum.
They intercepted Wilkinson again, which set them up for their second straight touchdown to take a 14-3 lead with 12:37 to play in the first half.
This was Wilkinson’s first start since high school. He said the adjustment he wants to make before next week’s game is staying in the pocket more.
“I think I did pretty well today, but I gotta do some work to get better at it,” Wilkinson said. “Moving forward, I think I need to keep preparing. I felt pretty prepared coming in today, but there is always a lot of stuff you can take with it. Just getting this game under a belt after a long hiatus from the field made us more and more comfortable.”
Derek Ng made his first field goal of the day with 1:55 left in the first half to put them up by 14. The Crusaders held a 17-3 lead at the half.
Ng opened up the scoring in the second half with a 51-yard field goal, which was a Goodman Stadium record. That kick gave them a 20-3 lead, and it’d be all the teams scored for the rest of the game.
Wilkinson ended up coming out because he got hurt. The Mountain Hawks looked to backup quarterback senior Addison Shoup, and then he also got hurt. Lehigh put in third-string quarterback sophomore Nigel Summerville.
Despite holding them to 0 points in the final quarter, Lehigh was unable to make a comeback.
With the way the shortened season is for spring football, Lehigh won’t have any time to waste when they head to Colgate on March 20 to try and capture their first win.