Lehigh used a dominating defensive effort and timely special teams play to defeat Towson 35-3 Saturday in front of a Family Day crowd of 13,853 at Goodman Stadium.
The victory sets up a crucial showdown with Colgate next weekend in Hamilton, N.Y. Lehigh and Colgate head into the game with identical 4-0 Patriot League records, so the game is expected to go a long way toward determining the league champion.
The win over Towson improves the Mountain Hawks to 6-2 on the season.
Both teams struggled to find their rhythm in the first quarter, as neither offense was able to find the end zone. But, the Lehigh special teams came up big, as junior Anthony Graziani broke through the line and blocked a Towson punt, and then pounced on the ball for the touchdown to put the Mountain Hawks up 7-0.
Junior quarterback Kyle Keating struggled early after last week’s record performance against Georgetown, as he passed for only 33 yards in the quarter.
The Tigers (4-5, 2-3) finally got on the board in the second quarter when sophomore Seth Keil connected on a 21-yard field goal to cut the Lehigh lead to four at 7-3. But Lehigh was able to take back the momentum with a big defensive play, as senior defensive back Lawrence Williams made a quick break on an attempted pass, intercepted the ball, and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown for the fifth time in his career. Williams’s five interception returns for touchdowns is a Patriot League record.
After a three-and-out series from Towson, Lehigh’s offense awoke as Keating found sophomore fullback Jason Beck streaking down the field and hit him in stride with a 29-yard touchdown pass. The Tiger safety had a chance to break up the play, but instead of knocking the ball down, the defender tipped it perfectly to Beck, propelling the Mountain Hawks to a commanding 21-3 lead with just 4:30 remaining in the first half.
The Mountain Hawks defense was on top of its game for the entire half, as it forced the Tigers into seven punts, and after possession changed hands several more times, Lehigh took the 21-3 lead into halftime.
The third quarter was again dominated by the Lehigh defense, as it shut down Towson and did not allow the Tigers to get near the end zone. For the game, Towson averaged only 2.7 yards per play, and was never able to get the right break in order to score.
Lehigh put the game out of reach when Keating found senior running back Jermaine Pugh on an eight-yard pass to put Lehigh up 28-3 with 3:30 left in the third quarter. Sophomore Mark Borda then relieved Keating in the fourth quarter and led the Mountain Hawks on another touchdown drive, this one completed when sophomore Greg Fay punched the ball in from four yards out.
Keating finished the day 18 for 33 through the air for 182 yards and two touchdowns and Pugh gained 39 yards on the ground, in addition to 40 yards on five catches, and one touchdown. Junior tight end Adam Bergen hauled in four passes for 26 yards, while junior receiver Adam Kovacs continued his stellar play with two catches for 49 yards.
Posted on Monday, November 03, 2003