Lehigh football kicked off Patriot League play with its first victory of the season, defeating Georgetown 21-19 on the road on Sept. 10.
Lehigh is now 19-1 overall against Georgetown since the Hoyas joined the Patriot League in 2001.
Coach Tom Gilmore credited the run game for being a difference maker.
Lehigh outran Georgetown 169-113 yards with senior running back Zaythan Hill going for 86 yards, sophomore Gaige Garcia running for 67 and junior Jack DiPietro for 38.
“We call ourselves a stable,” Garcia said. “We got a three-headed monster in the backfield.”
At the end of the first quarter, Georgetown led 3-0, marked by strong defense by both teams.
On Lehigh’s first drive, junior quarterback Dante Perri was sacked three consecutive times by the Georgetown defense. Georgetown then settled for a field goal after the Mountain Hawk defense prevented a touchdown with three defensive stops on the goal line.
Georgetown took a 10-0 lead at the 9:30 mark in the second quarter on a 19-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Pierce Holley, who threw for 277 yards in the game.
With 6:42 left in the second quarter, Lehigh scored its first points on a fourth and goal touchdown run from Hill, who also had a 70-yard run on the drive.
“When we play the next play and we put trust in the process and trust that guys are going to do their job, we can make stuff happen,” Hill said.
The Mountain Hawks then scored on their next drive as Perri led Lehigh 62 yards in 5 plays, ending in a 12-yard pass to junior wide receiver Eric Johnson.
Georgetown closed out the first half with a 28-yard field goal and went into halftime trailing 14-13.
Lehigh opened the second half with a 25-yard touchdown run from Garcia to take a 21-13 lead.
“We just kept playing, we had the guts, we had the heart and we wanted to win this game,” Garcia said.
The Lehigh defense had two costly penalties at the end of the third quarter, but was then again able to get a critical stop on 4th-and-1 to prevent the Georgetown offense from scoring. Georgetown was 0-3 on fourth down conversions in the game.
Senior defensive back TyGee Leach led the way for the defense with 11 tackles and three tackles for losses. He said the team was more disciplined in the second half, with many players stepping up.
“Everybody has to trust each other,” Leach said. “We had to trust the man next to us and that’s what we did.”
With 8:50 left in the fourth quarter, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Georgetown gave Lehigh another opportunity on offense. Yet on the next play, Perri’s pass intended for senior wide receiver Jalen Burbage was picked off by Georgetown’s Wedner Cadet.
Despite the interception, Gilmore said Perri, who threw for 137 yards, is continuing to step up and make big plays.
“He’s getting us in the right place and doing a lot of things that we can build this offense on,” Gilmore said.
The Hoyas had one last chance on offense and Joshua Tomas, who had 13 catches on the day for Georgetown, scored to make it 21-19 with 1:04 left in the game. Georgetown had a chance to tie up the game with a two-point conversion but Lehigh’s run defense had a big stop.
Georgetown’s onside kick attempt failed, allowing Lehigh to run out the clock and get the victory.
“Winning a game like this is a really important thing,” Gilmore said. “It really proves to the team, to the coaches and to the whole program that we can win it in the end in a really tight battle like that. So my hat is off to everyone involved.”
The Mountain Hawks, now 1-1, will look for their second win of the season when they take on Richmond at home during parents weekend on Sept. 17.