The Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry football game in 1995. Of the 157 games played, this was one of Lehigh’s most iconic victories. (Courtesy of Doug Yates)

The story of Rivalry game 131, “The Catch”


Out of all the Lehigh Lafayette match-ups, the 1995 contest stands out as one of the most remarkable Mountain Hawk wins in rivalry history.

This double overtime championship win gave Lehigh its second league title in three years.

The Lehigh-Lafayette games occur annually the week before Thanksgiving. Often, they are the last games that the seniors on the team will ever play. 

In this season’s final game, Lafayette was up 30-14 in the fourth quarter. 

Lehigh wide receiver Brian Klingerman refused to walk away from his final game with this ending.

“We were losing by 16 points late in the second half, and there was one point I was definitely thinking, ‘oh my gosh–this is how my last game is going to end,’” he said. “At that point, it was like ‘guys, we gotta get this going in the right direction.’” 

Just in time, the Mountain Hawks tied the game and forced overtime. 

Athletic Director Joe Sterrett said daylight savings made the game awfully dark. 

Television always has a way of brightening it up a bit, but in person, it was hard to see,” he said.

Klingerman remembers some moments of the game pretty vividly, yet he said he barely noticed the darkness because his adrenaline was on overdrive.   

Sterrett said the first overtime the team tried to play it safe by kicking a field goal, which was blocked by Lafayette. 

Neither team scored in overtime, forcing double overtime.

Sterrett said after the game that officials would have ended the game in a tie if neither team could score.

As nightfall was creeping up on the Mountain Hawks, the duo of Klingerman and quarterback Bob Aylsworth connected to pull Lehigh to a victory.

Klingerman said he and Aylsworth knew exactly which play to call in those final moments.

When Ayslworth passed to Klingerman in the endzone on second and 10 from the 14-yard line, the ball looked to be too high. 

Klingerman ran all the way to the back of the end zone before reeling it in with one hand while narrowly avoiding crashing into the goal post. It was the third touchdown Klingerman caught from Aylsworth that game.  

In overtime, each team gets a chance to score, so Lafayette had one more shot to tie the game. The Mountain Hawks defense held strong and made a fourth down stand to end the game. 

Until those final moments, Lehigh and Lafayette went back and forth throughout most of the game.

“This is something you see a lot in rivalry games,” Sterrett said. “Players doing memorable things. Certainly that was the case in this game with the catch and the throw.”

Klingerman and Aylsworth lived right next to each other at the time. Klingerman said they worked out a lot together in the offseason and got along, which definitely translated into their chemistry on the field.

Klingerman’s one-hander is frequently referred to in Lehigh football’s history as “The Catch.” He was later named MVP of The Rivalry game.

“Bob (Aylsworth) will try to tell you it should be called ‘the pass’ instead of the catch,” Klingerman said. 

Looking towards his upcoming 50th year of Lehigh Lafayette rivalry games on staff, Sterrett said that each matchup is special for different reasons. 

Sterrett said that in terms of pure excitement and competitiveness with the game punctuated by one amazing play, he would consider it his favorite game from the entire Lehigh-Lafayette series.  

Klingerman said it was incredible that his time as a Mountain Hawk came to a close the way it did that night. 

“Winning the Patriot League championship and beating Lafayette in that fashion, there’s no better way to end your career,” he said.

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