Why Lehigh will win the 157th rivalry game

Why+Lehigh+will+win+the+157th+rivalry+game

Peter Gardner, The Brown and White Sports Editor

Both teams come into the 157th rivalry game with identical 2-3 league records. Each team defeated Bucknell and Georgetown, while both teams’ losses came at the hands of Holy Cross, Fordham and Colgate.

For the Mountain Hawks, it has been a tail of two seasons. The season started dreadfully. Lehigh lost their first six games and failed to score a touchdown in any of the contests. The year then turned against Fordham. The offense erupted for 28 points before Lehigh ultimately fell in the fourth quarter. 

From the Fordham game on, the offense has averaged 25.25 points while gaining 363.75 yards per game. 

The team’s offensive breakout can be attributed to their offensive line and running game. The team has averaged 169.25 rushing yards in the last four games. The three-headed attack of Zaythan Hill, Rashawn Allen and Jack DiPietro have caused problems for defenses. 

Sophomore quarterback Dante Perri has also had a steady season, averaging 150 yards per game and holding a 111.94 quarterback ranking. His presence has allowed Lehigh to sustain drives and convert on third downs, something the Mountain Hawks struggled with early in the year.

On defense, the team showed signs of life the entire season but looks to be hitting their stride in the final weeks of the year. Pete Haffner, who missed the middle of the season due to an injury, won Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week against Georgetown after recording 10 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss and recording a sack.  

TyGee Leach has led the team in tackles all year, recording 49 tackles from the safety position. The junior captain has also led the team with seven pass break-ups. 

Lehigh comes into the rivalry game on a two-game winning streak, playing their best football of the season on both sides. 

The Lehigh-Lafayette historic rivalry has been dominated by Lehigh over the last 30 years, with Lehigh winning 19 of the last 30 games. 

Lafayette currently holds a two game winning streak, after defeating Lehigh 20-13 last season in the spring and 17-16 in 2019. 

The last time Lafayette had a three-game winning streak in the series was in 2006, when they defeated Lehigh 49-27. 

The game will come down to whether Lafayette’s rush defense can slow down Lehigh’s three-headed rushing attack. Lehigh has averaged 111 yards per game on the ground in Patriot League contests, and Lafayette has allowed 173.8 yards per game in Patriot League games. If Lehigh can consistently get first downs with their running backs, then they will be able to control the clock and keep Lafayette’s offense off the field.  

Lafayette has a balanced attack on offense. They are averaging 141.8 rushing yards per game and 175.6 passing yards per game. The Mountain Hawk’s linebackers will be put to the test in this game because of the balanced game plan from the Leopards. 

Pete Haffner looks to have another huge game in this contest, stopping Lafayette’s rushing attack and turning them into a one-dimensional offense. 

After there were no fans in the stadium last year in Easton, Goodman Stadium looks to be at capacity on Nov. 20, giving Lehigh all the energy it needs to take down rival Lafayette.

Prediction: Lehigh 17, Lafayette 6