The Lehigh football team fell to undefeated Holy Cross 42-14 on Nov. 5. Holy Cross had 338 rushing yards on the day, compared to 81 for Lehigh. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Lehigh football falls to undefeated Holy Cross, drops to 1-8


The Lehigh football team fell to undefeated Holy Cross on the road 42-14 on Nov. 5, extending its losing streak to seven games. 

The Mountain Hawks (1-8, 1-3 Patriot League) extended their losing streak against Holy Cross — where Lehigh coach Tom Gilmore spent 14 seasons as head coach — to five games.

To start the game, the Lehigh offense went three and out on three consecutive drives. 

Holy Cross took a 14-0 lead with 9:30 left in the first half after two rushing touchdowns. 

On Lehigh’s ensuing drive, senior wide receiver Jalen Burbage had a catch and run of 35 yards on 4th-and-8 to get Lehigh its first touchdown of the game. 

The touchdown was Burbage’s second of the year and longest reception of the year. His touchdown cut the Crusader’s lead to 14-7. 

When facing a 4th-and-10 with just under two minutes to go in the first half on the Holy Cross 44-yard line, the Mountain Hawks committed three consecutive penalties (illegal formation, holding and a false start) when trying to punt the ball. 

“The inconsistency right now is obviously what’s hurting us,” Gilmore said.

Because of the penalties, the Crusaders started their final possession of the half with good field position. They took advantage of Lehigh’s miscues and extended their lead to 21-7 when junior quarterback Matthew Sluka threw a six-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Spencer Gilliam. 

Holy Cross took a 21-7 lead into the locker room and received the ball on offense to begin the second half. On the first offensive play of the half, Sluka was picked off by Lehigh sophomore defensive back Logan Jones, who returned the interception for a touchdown that was negated by a penalty. 

It was Jones’ first collegiate interception. 

After the pick, Lehigh junior quarterback Dante Perri threw a screen pass to freshman wide receiver Geoffrey Jamiel for a 39-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 21-14. Perri finished with 200 passing yards on the day. 

The reception contributed to Jamiel’s game-high 88 receiving yards and was his first touchdown of the year. This was the closest Lehigh got to Holy Cross, and proved to be its final points of the day.

A 30-yard run by Holy Cross senior running back Peter Oliver set up Sluka for a four-yard rushing touchdown to extend the lead to 28-14. 

The Mountain Hawks offense then worked the ball up to midfield before a Jack DiPietro fumble gave Holy Cross the opportunity to score its fifth touchdown of the game. 

On Lehigh’s last significant drive of the game, after going down 35-14, the offense failed to punch it in from the Holy Cross one-yard line after four tries.

After making the goal line stop, Holy Cross drove the ball 98 yards, where running back Jordan Fuller scored his third rushing touchdown of the game from one yard out to make the score 42-14. 

Holy Cross finished with 338 rushing yards, compared to 81 for the Mountain Hawks.

Despite the loss, Gilmore said the team showed improvements this game.

“There were a lot of good things, and it was a shame we let this game get away from us because we were a lot closer than the score indicated,” Gilmore said.

With the win, Holy Cross captured its fourth straight Patriot League championship and moved to 5-0 in conference play. 

The Mountain Hawks are back at home on Nov. 12 to face Colgate in the last home game of the season. Then, on Nov. 19, the team will travel to Lafayette to play in the 158th Rivalry game.

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