Lehigh Catches Momentum In 23-9 Win over Georgetown Before Big Rivalry Game

BETHLEHEM, PA – In the Lehigh Valley, even when a Patriot League title is not an option, there is always the most important regular season game of the year – the game against archrival Lafayette – to prepare for.

All week the talk out of Bethlehem was about “momentum” for the Lehigh Mountain Hawks – having a head of steam going into that final game of the regular season.

And even with a rough September and October for the Mountain Hawks, November momentum (or perhaps “Novmentum”) was a big deal to this Lehigh squad with a big Rivalry game – and a big crowd next Saturday – to show out for.

It was in that respect that Lehigh’s (2-8, 2-3) win over Georgetown (2-7, 1-5) by a 23-9 score on a windy and rainy afternoon was a big deal for this young team.

It was a game that wasn’t handed to them, either by Georgetown or Mother Nature, and they fought through and won.

“We had some moments in the first half that we had to overcome,” Lehigh head coach Tom Gilmore said. “The one that that this team is starting to show more and more of is that grit that we’ve talked about, something that we preach all the time. To overcome some of those mistakes and shortcomings in the first half and get it done in the second half was really good to see.”

The first quarter saw Lehigh make some self-inflicted wounds, including an empty trip to the red zone and a missed 4th and 2 conversion at the Georgetown 22. But early in the second quarter the Mountain Hawks started to take more advantage of their opportunities, as PK Dylan Van Dusen would convert the first of his 3 field goals on the afternoon to give Lehigh a early 3-0 lead, and soon thereafter QB Dante Perri would find WR Romelo Miner on the left sideline and make a tackler miss to get into the end zone to extend the lead to 10-0.

“He’s getting more and more comfortable and confident,” Gilmore said of Perri. “He’s displaying a lot of poise, just in the little things. Throwing balls away when you’re supposed to throw them away and taking what’s there. He’s really doing a lot of good things, running the offense really well. The guys certainly have a lot of confidence in him.”

On a day when footing on the slippery field was at a premium, Perri’s 2 TD, 259 yard, 0 INT performance stood out.

Perri, who was the fourth-string QB to start the year, slowly worked his way up the depth chart all season and battled through some injuries and a tough losing streak to become the eventual starter. After taking some lumps, he cemented his grip on the starting role in mid-October and has emerged in the last four games, guiding the offense to 101 points, guiding strong challenges to Fordham and Holy Cross, and directing decisive wins against Bucknell and Georgetown.

“I think the guys have been playing really well,” Perri said after the game. “The O Line has been playing out of their minds. Running backs are hitting holes like crazy, and the receivers are starting to get confidence and make a lot of plays. [The game is] starting to slow down for everybody, which is a good thing.”

Lehigh’s offensive line kept a clean sheet when it came to sacks allowed (0), while allowing the three-head rushing attack of RB Rashawn Allen, RB Jack Di Pietro, and RB Zaythan Hill to gain 137 yards on the ground. WR Jalen Burbage led the Mountain hawks in receiving with 8 catches for 86 yards, adding a 5 yard rush and a 62 yard opening kickoff return to net 153 all-purpose yards on the afternoon.

After Georgetown QB Joseph Brunell would guide the Hoyas on a 13 play, 69 yard drive to open the second half, ending with a 4 yard touchdown pass to WR Joshua Tomas to close the deficit to 3, Perri would respond with a 14 play, 60 yard drive of his own, leading to a 36 yard FG attempt from Van Dusen to make the score 13-7.

Then it would be the defense’s turn to shut things down, as the Mountain Hawks wouldn’t give up any more points the rest of the way, the Hoya’s only remaining score coming from a safety in the 4th quarter.

While Lehigh would score 10 unanswered points, including an 11 yard Perri pass to WR Johnny Foley for a touchdown, the defense, led by LB Pete Haffner, would shut down the Hoyas the rest of the way, yielding 0 net total yards, sacking Brunell twice, and yielding only one first down.

“We knew they would have a tough time running the ball against us and we were confident,” Haffner said after the game. “Everything was really clicking for us out there. We got that rolling against Bucknell, carried it over to this week, and hopefully it carries over to next week.”

Haffner led Lehigh with 10 tackles, and for good measure led the defense with 2 1/2 tackles for loss, while DE MIkhari Sibblis also notched a sack to lead the Mountain Hawks on the season with four. For the Hoyas, Tyler Jones had two tackles for loss.

Lehigh next week will take on Lafayette at home in the 157th meeting in college football’s most-played Rivalry, while Georgetown finishes on the road with a non-conference game against Morgan State.