Football Bounces Back with 27-20 Win Over Lehigh



Bill Stoklosa

Coming off a tough 42-28 loss at Holy Cross, the Colgate football team could have folded in their next contest at home against Lehigh last Saturday. However, thanks in large part to great play from senior wideout Pat Simonds and his quarterback, junior Greg Sullivan, the Raiders pulled off a 27-20 victory.

Colgate entered Saturday’s game sporting a 7-1 record overall with a 2-1 record in the Patriot League, while Lehigh entered 2-5 overall with a 2-0 Patriot League record. Early on it looked as if Colgate would be heading for its second straight loss. After Colgate went three-and-out on the game’s opening possession, first-year Trevor Lawler got off a 31-yard punt into a stiff wind. Starting at their own 45-yard line, the Mountain Hawks quickly moved deep into Raider territory. Lehigh drove all the way down to the Raider seven-yard line where they had a first and goal. Senior linebacker Greg Hadley stuffed Lehigh’s Jay Campbell for no gain on first down. Then Lehigh quarterback J.B. Clark’s pass to the end zone was broken up thanks to a great play by senior Coree’ Moses. Then on third down, Clark was sacked by Greg Hadley all the way back at the 17-yard line. Lehigh’s Jake Peery did get the Mountain Hawks on the board though, with a 35-yard field goal that made the score 3-0.

On the ensuing possession the Raiders again gave Lehigh great field position. This time it was thanks to Lehigh’s Jesse Sanchez, whose hit on Greg Sullivan forced a fumble that was recovered at the Colgate 32 by fellow Mountain Hawk David Brown. Lehigh got into the end zone 2:44 later when Clark delivered a 16-yard strike to Craig Zurn to put Lehigh up 10-0. Colgate answered right back, as Sullivan aired it out and found first-year Jon Schademan down the middle for a 46-yard touchdown, cutting the lead to 10-7. It was Schademan’s first collegiate score. Early in the second quarter Sullivan found the end zone again, this time delivering a pinpoint 6-yard pass to Pat Simonds that put Colgate up 14-10. On Colgate’s next possession, Sullivan threw deep, Simonds made a great grab in stride, and then ran the rest of the way for a 46-yard touchdown strike. Neither team scored for the rest of the half, and Colgate went into the locker room with a 21-10 advantage.

Lehigh though got right back in the game mid-way through the third quarter, when Clark dropped back on third-and-16 from the Raider 45 and hit James Flynn in stride. Flynn went all the way for a score that cut the Raider lead to 21-17.

“They ran what you call a wheel route,” Head Coach Dick Biddle said regarding the play. “We had good pressure on the quarterback, but we pushed up in coverage and the guy beat us deep. That’s a mental bust; you don’t want to see that.”

On the ensuing possession Colgate went three-and-out on offense. Lehigh then drove down to the Raider eight-yard line where they faced a third-and-five. However, J.B. Clark’s third down pass to Craig Zurn was broken up by junior safety Mike Berry, and Lehigh settled for a Jake Perry field goal to pull within one point, at 21-20.

Colgate though, answered right back as Sullivan again found Simonds, this time on a 20-yard touchdown strike to put Colgate up 27-20. Unfortunately, holder Mike Barry let the ball slip through his fingers and the extra point was botched.

With 5:35 left in the game, the Mountain Hawks took over at their own 30. They did get down to the Raider 48, but the drive ended there, as senior safety Uzi Idah batted down a Clark pass that was intended for Jim Potocnie.

Colgate now needed just one first down to end the game. On the first play sophomore running back Jordan McCord rushed for just 3 yards, but he followed it up with an eight-yard scramble to seal the deal. After a few kneels, Colgate walked off the field with a 27-20 victory, and their slim playoff hopes still alive.

Pat Simonds was the standout on offense for the Raiders. He caught five balls for 85 yards and three scores. His quarterback also had a stellar day, throwing for 198 yards and four scores.

“Both are pretty good football players,” Coach Biddle said, referring to Sullivan and Simonds. “That’s a start.  Being able to run the ball opened up a lot of play action passes. Both are playing with a lot of confidence right now. The receiver has confidence that the quarterback can get him that ball, and the quarterback has confidence that his receiver will catch it.”

Sullivan did appear much more comfortable in the pocket and much more accurate with his throws than he has been in recent weeks. Sullivan also added 35 yards on the ground, but it was Jordan McCord who did the lion’s share of the work in the running game, racking up 159 yards on 32 carries. Conspicuously absent from the game was sophomore running back Nate Eachus. Head Coach Dick Biddle reported that he was still nursing a rib injury and had not practiced all week. He could have played if need, but the staff felt it was better to rest him.

On defense, senior linebacker Greg Hadley had a great game, with a team leading nine tackles and a sack. Uzi Idah and Mike Berry also came up big from the safety position, with eight tackles apiece. Aside from allowing a big third quarter score, the defense did very well when not given a short field to work with. 

With the win the Raiders improved to 3-1 in the Patriot League and 8-1 overall, while Lehigh dropped to 2-1 in League and 2-6 overall. Colgate is now ranked 18th in the Sports Network poll. This Saturday marks the third straight week Colgate will face a team that enters the game undefeated in the Patriot League. This time the opponent will be the No. 25 Lafayette Leopards, who they will play in Easton, PA at 1:00. The Raiders will need a win to have any chance at making the postseason.