Lehigh Heads to Easton For 158th Edition of The Rivalry

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11/15/2022 1:07:00 PM

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BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Coming off a thrilling, come-from-behind win over Colgate, Lehigh looks to finish his 2022 campaign on a high note as the Mountain Hawks travel to Fisher Stadium to face Lafayette in the 158th meeting of college football’s most-played rivalry. A wild fourth quarterback saw the lead change three times but an 11-yard touchdown pass from junior Dante Perri to classmate Eric Johnson with 22 seconds remaining lifted Lehigh to a 36-33 win over Colgate. The touchdown capped a day in which Perri threw for 424 yards and accounted for four touchdowns, while Johnson caught 10 passes for 194 yards. Senior Nate Norris led the defensive effort with 14 tackles and the game-clinching interception. Lehigh heads to Easton looking for his second straight win in The Rivalry. Lafayette enters Rivalry 158 at 3-7 overall and 2-3 in the league. The Leopards lost 45-10 at Fordham last weekend.

Last week’s win over Colgate marked the second-best offensive output and the best passing day of the Tom Gilmore era. Lehigh racked up a season-high 480 yards of offense, including 424 through the air, the most passing yards for the Mountain Hawks in five years. Junior quarterback Dante Perri was outstanding, completing 76 percent of his passes. Lehigh needed just five plays to drive down the field for the game-winning touchdown, and Perri was 5-for-5 passing for 73 yards on the drive. Lehigh’s 424 passing yards were his most since the Mountain Hawks threw for 444 in a losing effort against Penn in 2017.

Sixth-year senior linebacker Nate Norris was named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week on Monday. Norris registered a career-high 14 tackles and clinched Lehigh’s win over Colgate with his first career interception. He tied teammate Mike DeNucci for game-high honors in tackles and added 1.5 tackles for loss. Norris and DeNucci also shared a sack in the third quarter. Norris was also part of a defensive effort that limited Colgate to 114 rushing yards, nearly 100 below the Raiders’ season average. For the season, Norris ranks second on the Mountain Hawks with 77 tackles. He also has six tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks.

Junior quarterback Dante Perri enjoyed the best game of his Lehigh career against Colgate as he completed 25-of-33 passes for 424 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for two scores in the Mountain Hawks’ come-from-behind victory. Perri threw a pair of touchdown passes for the fourth time this season. He also came through in the clutch, going 5-for-5 for 73 yards on Lehigh’s game-winning drive. Perri took over as Lehigh’s starting quarterback midway through the 2021 season and completed 64 percent of his passes, averaging 228 yards per game with five touchdowns and two interceptions over Lehigh’s last five games.

Dante Perri’s big day against Colgate would not have happened without support from Lehigh’s talented wide receiver corps. The trio of junior Eric Johnson, senior Jalen Burbage and first-year Geoffrey Jamiel combined to catch 22 passes for 380 yards and two touchdowns against Colgate. The 22 receptions came on 25 targets including a number of contested catches. Johnson (194) and Burbage (107) both eclipsed the 100-yard mark, marking the first time since last year’s Fordham game that Lehigh had a pair of 100-yard receivers. On that day Johnson (121) and Roemello Miner (102) eclipsed the century mark.

Lafayette brings a 3-7 overall record and 2-3 league mark into its season finale. The Leopards are coming off a 45-10 setback at nationally-ranked Fordham last weekend. Lafayette boasts the league’s top rushing defense and leads the league in opponents’ first downs allowed. The Leopards also rank second in the league in total defense, scoring defense and red zone defense. Linebacker Marco Olivas is Lafayette’s top tackler with 86 and he also has seven tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Defensive end Malik Hamm has 11.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks to go along with 45 tackles. Ah-Shaun Davis has started Lafayette’s last four games at quarterback. He has completed 55 percent of his passes this season for 588 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions. Jamar Curtis and Jaden Sutton are both over 300 rushing yards on the season, while Elijah Steward is the top receiver with 38 catches for 345 yards and two touchdowns. Lafayette is plus-4 on turnover margin this season.

Lehigh and Lafayette meet for the 158th time with the Leopards holding an 80-72 lead. There have also been five ties in the series with the last occurring in 1964. The Mountain Hawks have won 18 of the last 28 meetings in the series. While Lafayette dominated the early years of the Rivalry, Lehigh owns an impressive 45-25-2 record since 1950. This will be the 75th meeting in Easton and the eighth since the Fisher Stadium renovation. Lafayette’s win in the spring of 2021 snapped a five-game Lehigh winning streak in games played at Fisher Stadium. Tom Gilmore was 3-1 versus Lafayette as Lehigh’s defensive coordinator, and was 8-6 against the Leopards in his time as head coach at Holy Cross.

Lehigh won 10 of the last 14 rivalry games against Lafayette. While the Mountain Hawks have entered many of those games with high-powered offenses, they have also benefitted from scores by the defense or special teams. Lehigh had a defensive, or special teams touchdown in seven of its last ten rivalry wins. Of Lehigh’s last ten wins over Lafayette, only the 2012, 2016 and 2017 wins did not feature a defensive or special teams score. The Mountain Hawks blocked a punt for a touchdown to go up 14-7 in last year’s 17-10 victory at Goodman Stadium.

There have been 52 shutouts between these longtime rivals, the last one in the series was back in 1980. That season, Lehigh downed the Leopards 32-0. Prior to 1980, the Brown and White had not shut out its archrival since 1951 (32-0).

Saturday’s game kicks off just after 12:30 pm from Fisher Stadium in Easton. Tickets are still available through both schools. Tickets in the Lehigh sections can be purchased at LehighTickets.com.

The Lehigh broadcast of the game will air on Service Electric Network 2/502 and ESPN+ with audio coverage on Fox Sports Radio 94.7 FM and 1230 AM and LVFoxSports.com beginning at 11:30 am

dates: November 19, 2022
Opponent: Lafayette Leopards
Kick off: 12:32pm
Stage: Fisher Stadium/13.132/FieldTurf
Location: Easton, Pa.
Lehigh’s record: 2-8 overall, 2-3 Patriot League
Lafayette’s record: 3-7 overall, 2-3 Patriot League
Series: Lafayette leads 80-72-5
Television: Service Electric Network 2/502 (Lehigh broadcast) with Steve Degler, Mike Yadush ’93 and Doug Heater
Video: ESPN+ (PatriotLeague.TV)
Radio: Fox Sports Radio 94.7 FM and 1230 AM with Matt Kerr, Jim Guzzo, Matt Markus and Tom Fallon beginning at 11:30 am
web audio: Audio at LVFoxSports.com
Key stats: • Lehigh’s 480 yards of total offense against Colgate were a season-high and the second most in 35 games under Tom Gilmore.
•Junior quarterback Dante Perri was 5-for-5 for 73 yards and a touchdown on Lehigh’s game-winning drive and delivered the Mountain Hawks’ first 400-yard passing day in more than five years.
•Junior linebacker Mike DeNucci ranks seventh in the FCS in solo tackles per game (6.0) and tackles for loss per game (1.6).
• Lehigh has won 35 of the 56 games versus Lafayette since the teams played to a 6-6 tie in the 100th meeting in 1964.
•In more recent times, the Mountain Hawks have won 18 of the last 27 games, dating back to 1995..

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