Lafayette falls to Lehigh in 157th Rivalry Game

Junior+running+back+Jaden+Sutton+%28%231%29+%28pictured%29+hits+the+hole+during+his+70-yard+rushing+performance+during+157th+rivalry+game.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+GoLeopards.com%29

Junior running back Jaden Sutton (#1) (pictured) hits the hole during his 70-yard rushing performance during 157th rivalry game. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards.com)

Charlie Berman, Staff Writer

In the 157th installment of the most-played rivalry in college football, Lafayette fell to Lehigh (3-8 overall, 3-3 Patriot League) in a defensive showdown with a final score of 10-17. The Leopards gave it their all but could not score, costing them their two-year winning streak in The Rivalry.

“No matter how the season has gone, The Rivalry is always going to ignite some kind of energy within us,” junior linebacker Marco Olivas said. “The setting may be different from year to year, but the motivation comes from the tradition and pride we have for Lafayette football. It’s a different feeling that you can’t really experience when playing against other teams.”

Lehigh opened the scoring at the end of the first quarter with a 13-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Dante Perri to sophomore running back Jack DiPietro. Perri was able to avoid the sack from first-team All-Patriot League recipient and senior defensive lineman Malik Hamm to lob it up to a wide-open receiver.

Lafayette immediately countered, taking 15 plays to march 88 yards down the field and tie it up on a one-yard run from junior running back Jaden Sutton. Sutton also came up with the most clutch play on the drive with a one-yard rush from the four-yard line on fourth and inches to keep the drive alive. The game was knotted at 7-7 with 7:32 left in the half.

From there the Leopard’s defense shut down Lehigh’s offense, led by Lafayette’s second defensive honoree on the All-Patriot League first team, Olivas.

“Resilience is something important for any successful team to have,” Olivas said. “At some point in time, you will get tested, challenged, and beat. Having that resilience is what allows you to learn and get better. I know our team has what it takes, and I believe we have that resilience.”

Lehigh was unable to answer Lafayette’s scoring drive, punting the ball back to the Leopards who looked primed to take the lead. Lafayette’s drive stalled as well, however, with the punt by sophomore Jakob Trestik being blocked and taken into the end zone by Lehigh junior special teamer Johnny Foley as Lehigh took a 14-7 lead. 

Lafayette immediately answered by taking the opening kickoff 46 yards and then adding another 15 on a penalty to set up the offense. The Maroon and White had to settle for a field goal as the offensive could only manage to go seven yards before having to kick the ball. Freshman kicker Micah Pettit’s field goal diminished Lehigh’s lead with the score now at 14-10.

The Leopards would have one more shot before the half on the following kick-off, as Lafayette would recover a fumble punched free by junior linebacker Tristan Tritt. The special teams once again set up the offensive deep in Lehigh territory, but this field goal attempt was pushed wide right to conclude the half with the Mountain Hawks in the lead by four.

As the second half began, the holes in Lafayette’s offensive began to show. Of the five drives they had in the second half, three of them finished with a turnover on downs inside the Lehigh 30 yard line. 

The offense was able to gain significant yardage with over 145 yards on the ground and another 133 from sophomore backup quarterback Aaron Angelos. Angelos played in place of the injured starting QB, freshman Ah-Shaun Davis. Lafayette had more than 100 yards on Lehigh going into the fourth quarter, however, failed to capture any points for the remainder of the game.

Lehigh tacked on a field goal early in the fourth quarter, a lead that was held to the end of the game.

Despite the loss, Lafayette continues to hold the all-time series record in The Rivalry by a 80-72-5 margin.

The future is bright for Lafayette football, as 12 players were named to the Patriot League All-League teams for their efforts this season. 

“It always feels good to be recognized for how you’ve played on the football field,” Olivas said. “It means you’re doing something good, and for us to have twelve guys be recognized for how they’re playing shows how much potential we have to be a great team.”

“The potential was there this entire season and the focus of this off-season is bringing that potential to fruition,” Olivas added. “We have all the parts we need, and we just need to bring it together and develop a consistent high level of play.”

This loss closes out the season for the Leopards as they look towards the first signing day in December and bringing in the next generation of Patriot League all League players.