Turnovers Doom Mountain Hawks In Season-Opening Loss To No. 15/16 Villanova
Box Score BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania – The Lehigh Football team couldn’t get past a nationally rated Villanova roster when the 15th Wildcats defeated the Mountain Hawks 47-3 in Saturday’s season opener for both teams on Dog Day at Goodman Stadium. The Dog Day game on Saturday was presented by JFR Salvage.
The Wildcats amassed over 500 yards of offense and scored 24 of their 47 points from six Lehigh turnovers.
“We played against a very good football team,” said Lehigh head coach Tom Gilmore. “They played an excellent game and performed very well. Once we get down that path, we have to be harder and fight harder in those situations. It just seemed like this snowball effect where, as soon as things went downhill, we did the Let the slide go on. “
Villanova scored the first 20 points of the game before an interception by second Mike DeNucci at the end of the first half resulted in a 34-yard field goal from Junior Dylan Van Dusen when time ran out.
With the Mountain Hawks trailing at break 20-3, Villanova pulled away on 24 points in the third quarter, converting three Lehigh sales into 17 of those points during the period.
“I thought we did a lot of things well in the first half,” said Gilmore. “I was very confident that we could play a lot better at half-time than in the first half, but in the end we didn’t manage to do that.”
Lehigh was held at 139 yards of offense that day. Junior quarterback Cross Wilkinson completed 15 of 26 passes for 134 yards, but threw three interceptions. Sophomore Dante Perri stepped in in the second half, finishing 3-of-6 for 17 yards and an interception. Lehigh also lost a pair of fumbles and dumped four sacks.
Villanova quarterback Daniel Smith completed 13 of 21 for 182 yards and three touchdowns, with two of those results going to Dez Boykin. Justin Covington ran 18 times for 156 yards and two touchdowns. The Wildcats ran for 275 yards and passed for 231 in a balanced effort.
Offensive were Lehigh’s top producers Alex Snyder, senior tight end, who took five passes for 56 yards, and junior Johnny Foley, who had 53 yards in five receptions.
Senior Pete Haffner led the defensive with 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, half a sack and a pass breakup. Juniors Mikhari Sibblis and Michael Callahan added five tackles, with Sibblis picking up a sack on the game’s inaugural possession. DeNucci also had five tackles, including one for the loss.
Gallery: (9-4-2021) Football vs. Villanova, 09/04/21
Villanova led 6-0 after a quarter after two field goals from Cole Bunce. Covington then scored on runs of 13 and 51 yards to bring the Wildcats down to 20. Smith scored with Jaaron Hayek on a 17-yard touchdown in the third quarter and met Boykin on scoring passes of 30 and 61 yards.
“This is a difficult path for many of these young people to learn some of those lessons and lose a game like this by a margin,” said Gilmore. “This is a motivating factor for what we have to do to get better. What are we going to do in the future? Work harder physically and mentally. One game at a time over the course of a game. It was a big challenge, but” I think it will be a motivating factor. We don’t let these guys discourage us. We’re better than what we showed today. “
The Mountain Hawks will take to the streets next weekend to face another CAA opponent while Lehigh travels to Richmond to face the Spiders in 22nd place. Game time is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. from Robins Stadium. The game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington and FloFootball, while audio coverage is available on Lehighsports.com.
ADDITIONAL POINTS … Lehigh has now lost his last three opening games and has lost 10 straight games to CAA opponents … Villanova has now won nine straight games in the series and taken a 12-5 lead … Lehigh had three first-timers, including senior Wide receivers De’Shun Mickens, sophomore center George Padezanin and DeNucci… Villanova had 24 first downs against Lehighs 11 and held a 37: 25-22: 35 advantage in possession… Second Jack DiPietro and newcomer Gaige Garcia led the Lehigh Rushing Attach at 36. to combined yards on nine carries… Runner-up Roemello Miner had the first three receptions of his career… eleven of Lehigh’s 26 first year players saw action on Saturday… There were 4,101 spectators on Saturday.
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