Laf-Lehigh rivalry ends in a loss for the Leopards

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Rachel Robertson

Lafayette’s season came to a disappointing close Saturday with a 49-35 loss to Lehigh in the 151st meeting of the Rivalry.

Despite tying their season high for points scored and leading the Mountain Hawks in total offensive yards, the Leopards couldn’t keep up with a high powered Lehigh offense led by junior QB Nick Shafnisky.

Lehigh opened up the game with three passing touchdowns from Shafnisky to lead 21-0 early in the second quarter. Lafayette finally answered with a touchdown of its own off of a 15-yard run by sophomore tailback DeSean Brown.

A facemask penalty on Lehigh’s next drive erased any momentum Lafayette had gained following a big defensive stop at midfield.  The Mountain Hawks capitalized a few plays later with a five yard touchdown run by Shafnisky to grab a 28-7 lead.

Junior quarterback Drew Reed connected with senior fullback Dan Dellovade on a six yard touchdown pass to pull Lafayette within two touchdowns going into the half.

Lehigh opened the third quarter with two touchdowns, one a nine yard Shafnisky pass to sophomore receiver Troy Pelletier and the other an 84-yard fumble recovery by junior cornerback Brandon Leaks, before Lafayette could counter with a 71 yard drive capped off by another Brown scoring rush to make it 42-21 Lehigh.

With 3:53 left in the game, Brown tacked on his third touchdown of the game with a 1 yard rush. Brown ended the game with a career high 146 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries, as well as career highs in receiving yards and catches with 88 and five, respectively.

Lehigh recovered Lafayette’s second onside kick of the game and freshman tailback Dom Bragalone took it into the end zone on the next play. The 44 yard rush pushed made Bragalone Lehigh’s first freshman 1,000 yard season rusher in program history.

In the final minute of the game, Lafayette posted the game’s final score with a 25 yard pass from Reed to junior Tim Vangelas.

The dominant game by Shafnisky and Lehigh’s offense was a complete reversal from the Mountain Hawks’ performance a year ago in Yankee Stadium. Shafnisky threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns on the day, tacking on another 109 yards and a touchdown off the run in a game MVP-worthy performance.

With the loss, Lafayette’s two year rivalry game winning streak came to an end. The Leopards ended the season 1-10 and went winless in Patriot League play for the first time ever.

In the offseason, head coach Frank Tavani’s squad will look to build on a difficult year with a high number of starters returning for the 2016 season.