LEWISBURG, PA – In the 85th meeting between Bucknell and Lehigh on the football field, the Mountain Hawks rode a friendly home-like atmosphere on the road at Christy Matthewson Stadium to end a long consecutive game losing streak by a score of 38-6.
Lehigh had lost 15 straight regular season games stretching back to 2019, a series that included an abbreviated three-game spring season due to the COVID pandemic and an eight-game losing streak this fall.
Behind five rushing touchdowns from three different running backs, the Mountain Hawks (1-8, 1-3) scored 21 straight points in the second quarter and then shook the monkey off their backs in the second have with 17 more against the Bison (1-8, 0-5).
The Lehigh/Bucknell series stretches back to 1884 and sometimes appears to take a back seat in the Lehigh Valley to the Lafayette/Lehigh Rivalry, but in the past few years it has had increased intensity since former Lehigh WR and offensive coordinator Dave Cecchini has taken over as the Bison head football coach in Lewisburg and had beaten Lehigh head coach Tom Gilmore and his Mountain Hawks twice during their losing streak – both times with smothering defensive performances, 20-10 in 2019 and 6-0 during the spring season.
It was in that context that a spirited game between two teams near the bottom of the Patriot League standings unfolded, one that featured the sounds of the Lehigh marching band ringing through the stadium, a full cheerleading spirit squad, and a loud visiting contingent on a perfect day in Lewisburg.
After the Bison went up 3-0 on a 27 yard Ryan Schatzel field goal, Lehigh QB Dante Perri orchestrated an eight play, 65 yard drive, which included a big completion for a first down to WR Romelo Miner over the middle of the field. One play later, RB RaShawn Allen would push through for the first Lehigh score on the afternoon.
A big interception by freshman CB D.J. Lawrence handed the ball back to the Lehigh offense, where RB Jack DiPietro converted one of Lehigh’s most explosive plays of the year, a 44 yard screen pass that ended with a tackle at the 1 yard line. DiPietro would also ultimately punch the ball in for the touchdown to make it 14-3 Lehigh.
Bucknell’s next drive featured Lehigh DE Trevor Harris tackling Bucknell QB Ethan Grady, sending the ball up into the air and into the hands of DL Ben Murphy, the Haverford, PA native’s first career interception. Two plays later, RB Zaythan Hill would zip around the left side of the line to make it 21-3 Lehigh
“It’s my first [college football] victory, for a lot of kids in the locker room it’s their first victory, it feels great,” said LB Mike DeNucci, who led the Mountain Hawks with two sacks.
“The first win of my college career feels awesome,” Jack said afterwards. “I can’t do it without my O-line. They’re the hardest working group on the whole team. I’m speechless. So happy.”
“He had an awesome game,” Gilmore said of DiPietro’s performance. “He is one of the hardest working guys and one of the toughest guys on the team. To see him rewarded with a big day like that was really fun to see.”
Lehigh returns home next week to take on Georgetown (2-6, 1-4) with a noon kickoff, while Bucknell will be travelling to Michie Stadium in West Point, New York to take on Army.
Photo Credits; Justin Lafleur, Lehigh Athletics
Chuck has been writing about Lehigh football since the dawn of the internet, or perhaps it only seems like it. He’s executive editor of the College Sports Journal and has also written a book, The Rivalry: How Two Schools Started the Most Played College Football Series.
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