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Remembering the Rivalry

Lehigh's Marty Horn, here hoisting his 1985 Lehigh-Lafayette game MVP trophy, is one of only seven players in the history of the storied rivalry to win the award twice.

In the Lehigh Valley, the football rivalry that fires up 20-year-olds in dorm rooms and 50-somethings in boardrooms alike is the annual gridiron tussle between Lehigh and Lafayette.

So, with the 144th meeting between the two rivals set to take place Saturday in Easton, we asked six former Lehigh football players to share their fondest memories of playing in “The Game.”

Mike Rieker ’78
Current occupation: The former star quarterback works for Cardinal Health, where he has been a Territory Manager for the past 23 years.
Fondest Lehigh-Lafayette memory: “My fondest Lehigh vs. Lafayette memory was the 1977 game. I will go out on a limb and say that no other Lehigh-Lafayette game of the previous 113 meant more than that one in 1977. I also believe that it drew the largest crowd in history with a standing-room-only crowd of 18,000 in Taylor Stadium. We were ranked No. 8 in the country and needed a win to secure a bowl bid. We not only won, but also clinched the Lambert Cup Trophy as well. We held a slim 14-10 lead at halftime and I don't think I have to tell you what the locker room at halftime was like with Coach (John) Whitehead at the helm. We came out and blew them away 35-17.
“That victory sent us into the playoffs, where we did what no other Lehigh football team has ever done—we won it all. We beat the No.2, No.3 and No.7 ranked teams in the country to do it. Those playoff wins were huge, but the Lafayette game at home in front of our families, friends and the Lehigh community was the most satisfying.”

Vince Rogusky ’80
Current occupation: The former running back and tight end is the founder, president, and CEO of Epitome Systems, an on-demand business software company. He lives in Devon, Pa., with his wife Tracy (Lehigh Class of 1983), and their two children, son Austin and daughter Avery—both of whom are terrific high school athletes, according to Rogusky.
Fondest Lehigh-Lafayette memory: “Certainly, going undefeated during the times my younger brother Ed (a two-time Academic All-American running back for Lafayette) and I played against one another was a highlight. While he is sure to remind me constantly of Lafayette's recent successes, particularly those years where playoffs were at stake, I'm quick to bring up the time when we played. Also, we won a national championship, played in another and got to the semifinals during that period.
“But probably the fondest of all memories has to do with my parents. With sons at both schools, you can imagine the détente they had to apply. When asked for whom they rooted, whether the game was at Lehigh or Lafayette, they always said, ‘the offense,’ since my brother and I both played on offense. Thanksgiving dinner during our playing days was always a treat, because I got to relive the win!
“My brother Ed and his wife Patricia, son Gordon, and daughter Tessa, live in Boalsburg, Pa., (near State College). Ed is an orthopedic surgeon and partner in a major practice, University Orthopedics Center (UOC), in State College, Pa., so our families will be together this weekend in State College (to watch the Lehigh-Lafayette game).”

Marty Horn ’86
Current occupation: The former quarterback is a partner, with his brothers Don, Jim and Peter, in two restaurants in West Orange, N.J—Pals Cabin and Mayfair Farms, which have been owned and operated by the Horn family since 1932. The Horn brothers also own a real estate development business based in Dayton, Wyoming. On the football front, Marty is an assistant football coach at Madison High School in Madison, N.J.
Fondest Lehigh-Lafayette memory: “My fondest memory of Lehigh-Lafayette was beating them in '83 and '85 (Horn was voted the MVP of both of those games). The 1985 game was particularly special because we knew it was Coach John Whitehead's final game at Lehigh and we wanted to send him out as a winner—although he was already a ‘winner’ in every sense of the word). Fortunately, we won that game, 24-19.”

Mike Yadush ’93
Current occupation: For the past 13 years, Yadush, who played outside linebacker at Lehigh, has taught history at nearby Whitehall (Pa.) High School, where he is the defensive coordinator for the high school’s football team. He also serves as color commentator for the local broadcast of Lehigh football.
Fondest Lehigh-Lafayette memory: “I have s-o-o-o-o-o many memories of ‘The Game,’ but I would have to say that my most memorable was my Junior Year (1991) when we beat Lafayette at home to improve to 9-2 to cap off a great year. In that game, our kicker, the late Erik Byrd, who died the next month of a brain tumor that he didn’t know he had, was injured and wanted to kick so bad that he kicked lefty that game even though he was a righty kicker. He played soccer in high school and was able to do that. That is how much playing in that game meant to him.”

Scott Semptimphelter ’94
Current occupation: The former quarterback sells medical and aesthetic lasers for Cynosure Laser, and lives in Brentwood, Tenn., (just outside of Nashville). He’s been married for nine years with three children, Nick 7, Graci 4, and Cross 2. His youngest son, Cross, whom the Semptimphelters adopted from Guatemala in July of 2006, was just diagnosed with autism in August, so he and his wife are working with the Autism Foundation of Tennessee to raise money and awareness for autistic children as well.
Fondest Lehigh-Lafayette memory: “My fondest memory of Lehigh-Lafayette was the 1993 game, when we all raised the trophy in the locker room and celebrated the Patriot League championship as a team. The most memorable moment of that game was during the first quarter, I was running the ball on our sidelines, and the free safety from Lafayette came up and hit me about 2-3 yards before the first-down marker. I put my head down, and ran through him to get the first down. As I was running through him, all I could hear was Coach Fred Mariani screaming in my ear, ‘Run him over, run him over’ (he was almost on the field, and I was literally a step from out of bounds), and seeing his expression when I got up with the first down, and the way the crowd and team got excited about the play, is the one moment that sticks out to me.”

Kody Fedorcha ’00
Current occupation: As sales manager for Pacific Ozone, a manufacturer of water treatment equipment, Fedorcha is responsible for sales in the Eastern U.S. and Canada. The former wide receiver also remains active within Lehigh football by providing color commentary on the radio and over the web.
Fondest Lehigh-Lafayette memory: “My fondest memory is easily from the 1998 game in Easton. In the third quarter of our 31-0 win, I caught a 41-yard touchdown from Phil Stambaugh and it was really one of those plays where it was my job just to get out of the way. Once the coverage broke down, I found myself standing alone in the end zone. All I can say is that was the easiest and most difficult catch I ever had to make, mainly because it seemed like forever until the ball got to me. The silence throughout Fisher Field (after the catch) remains a memory I will always cherish.”

--Bill Doherty

Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2008

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