Welcome to www.Collegefootballfan.com
"Get off the couch and go to a game!"
The Goal - See 'em all!
Delaware scores 21 in third to advance past Lehigh, 42-20
Newark, DE - Lehigh (10-3) trailed Delaware (10-2) 21-13 with eight seconds left in the first half driving for a score at UD's 22, but Anthony Walters interception stopped the Mountain Hawk attempt to narrow the score, and the Fightin' Blue Hens scored three touchdowns in the third period to advance to the Quarterfinals of the Football Championship Subdivision, 42-20. Delaware QB Pat Devlin threw four TD passes while the Blue Defense held Lehigh's running game in check allowing only 29 yards. The Mountain Hawks' Chris Lum threw for 362 yards and 2 TDs as wide open receivers accounted for most of Lehigh's offensive success. For CFF.com, it was the second time we'd seen these two schools meet in a playoff game. The result back in 2000 was quite similar as Delaware took that one, 47-22. The Hawks and the Hens are two of the teams we've seen most often at this level. In the annals of Collegefootballfan.com history, Lehigh stands at 10-6 while Delaware is now 9-5.
With game time temperatures in the high 30s, Delaware started off hot as they drove 68 yards on their first possession with Andrew Pierce running it in from the five. Mike Perry's placement made it 7-0. Lehigh countered right away with a drive where Lum converted a fourth and 11 into a first down at the UD nine. On a 13-yard pass to Ryan Spadola for a TD, the Hawks showed that they had offensive answers to Delaware's tough defense.
On the first play of the second period, Tom Randazza gave Lehigh a 10-7 lead with a 28-yard FG. Starting a drive from the 40, Devlin connected with Mark Schenauer over the middle for a 29-yard TD pass and catch. The 14-10 lead narrowed to 14-13 on Lehigh's next series when Randazza booted one in from 24 yards out. All of Lehigh's success was through the air as they continued to struggle getting anything on the ground. Lum was ineffective when he tried to run from the pocket. Devlin had much more success when he had to run out of the pocket for the Hens. On Delaware's subsequent series, the drive started from the 34. It finished with RB Chris Campbell sprinting on a bench pattern to the flat and making a diving, twisting, over-the-head catch for a sensational one-yard TD reception and a 21-13. Lead. Lehigh looked to answer again starting its next drive with only :55 left. With eight seconds and one time-out left to set up for another FG, Lum (35 of 58, 362 yards, 2 INTs, 2 TDs) made a big mistake trying to force a pass over the middle. DB Anthony Walters intercepted near the end zone and returned it to the 50 to run out the half. Lum's option was to go for a quick strike or to throw the ball away to let Randazza put up three more before they received the ball to start the second half. The turnover resulted in a big momentum killer for the Hawks who showed that they could go toe-to-toe offensively with the No. 3 Fightin' Blue Hens up until that point.
In an unusual circumstance, the bands from two FCS schools performed at halftime. GGA Eric Koreivo, who did not admit he was cold and was focused on getting to his HS Christmas dance back at home this evening, and I had purchased our tickets in advance for this game anticipating an expected sell-out. In 2000, when I attended a playoff between these same two programs, the 22,000 seat Delaware Stadium was a tough ticket, a near sell-out. For this game, 13,649 attended. Granted it was cold, but it was a playoff between two local rivals only two hours apart. We were surprised by the number of empty seats. We won't pre-buy if we head back down to see UD host a semi-final in a couple of weeks.
Lehigh lost old "Mo" at the end of the first half. The offense went three and out on its first series. Delaware stayed focused as Devlin threw a 38-yrd TD strike to Tommy Crosby. Several Lehigh defenders bounced off him. UD moved the ball throughout the game, but the Lehigh defense no longer seemed up to the task. Down 28-13, Lehigh gave the ball back on downs. Two series later, UD drove 41 yards with RB David Hayes running past a Lehigh secondary offering little resistance again as he ran it in for a score from the 16. Walters picked off his second pass for the Hens, and before the period ended, Devlin hooked up with Nihja White on a 20-yard pass play for his fourth TD pass on the day. With the Blue Hens comfortably leading now 42-13, Eric had other thoughts on his mind and asked, "Can we go?" It was time. Early in the fourth, Lum connected with Matt Fitz for a 19-yard TD to close out the games scoring. The first half was exciting despite Lehigh's inability to develop a ground game. Lum found his receivers open all over the place until his forced pass killed at least a three-point try at the end of the half. The third period was all Blue Hens. The game lost its luster and we headed back so Eric could go to his dance and so I could watch conference championships on TV to see who was going to what FBS Bowl.
Delaware hosts New Hampshire next Friday at 8 pm in the quarterfinals. The Hens did not play their conference foe this past season. UNH handled Lehigh 31-10 in a non-conference game. Lehigh finished its season at 10-3 going undefeated to win The Patriot League. All three losses came at the hands of Colonial Athletic Association teams - Villanova, UNH, and Delaware - by a combined score of 108-30. CFF.com plans to head to a different venue in Delaware next week in Dover to drop down to D-3 to see the undefeated Wesley Wolverines host the undefeated Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks, defending D-3 champs, in this year's semi-final game. If UD survives the UNH Wildcats, we plan to head back to Newark the following weekend to see an FCS semi-final between the Blue Hens and the winner of next week's game between Wofford and Georgia Southern both of the Southern Conference. A second possibility exists if Villanova knocks off No. 1 Appalachian State and if unseeded North Dakota State beats No. 5 seed Eastern Washington. "Nova could possibly host a playoff game if that happens. Stay tuned. If we do attend a game that weekend, it will be our 400th game since we started this crazy, fall, folly back in 1979!
Extra Points: Mike Groome ,MLB, and Al Pierce, OLB, both collected 14 tackles a piece for Lehigh. We plan to see Mike play during his senior season as the Mountain Hawks will return Lum, WR Jake Drawl, Randazza, and Ryan Spadola. Mike led the team in tackles this season. Along with Pierce, Lehigh will have to replace three OL starters and its entire defensive secondary. We await the release of next year's schedule so we can plan a date to see Mike play again as part of our Big Tailgate Party.
Lehigh Head Coach Al Coen was named Patriot League Coach of the Year.
Delaware's Pat Devlin transferred from Penn State to start at Delaware for this, his senior, season. He won Colonial Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year. If you remember, former UD QB Joe Flacco, now starting for the Baltimore Ravens, also transferred to Delaware from Pitt, but played in Newark for two seasons before heading to the pros. If you follow "Salvos", you know Delaware HC K.C. Keeler is always on the lookout for distraught FBS players looking for playing time at the next level. He was doing this even as a successful D-3 Head Coach at Rowan.
Speaking of our 400th game, if it is at Delaware in two weeks, it will be very appropriate as our first game in 1979 featured Delaware at Rhode Island. Going on to win the D-2 National Championship that season, a starting LB for the Blue Hens was none other then its current HC, K.C. Keeler.