WASHINGTON, DC – The adage of the late Al Davis was “Just, Win, Baby.”
The owner of the Oakland Raiders, his teams epitomized the idea that it wasn’t style points or statistics that won football games – only the final score.
In that sense, Al Davis might have really liked Lehigh (1-0, 1-1 overall)’s win over Georgetown (0-1, 1-1 overall) by a 21-19 score.
Despite getting outgained 422-306; despite losing the turnover battle (Lehigh turned it over twice, Georgetown 0 times); despite giving up four first downs with penalties and running 30 fewer offensive plays than the Hoyas, the Mountain Hawks lined up with 1:04 to play with the ability to deny Georgetown’s two point conversion and preserve the win – and they did so, putting them, at least for now, atop the Patriot League standings.
“Winning a game like this is a really important thing,” head coach Tom Gilmore said. “It proves to the whole program that we can win it in the end in a really tight battle like that, so hats off to everyone involved.”
Overcoming An Early Deficit
Lehigh dug itself in a 10-0 hole early, after a 23-yard yard field goal by Georgetown’s Patrick Ryan field goal and a Lehigh fumble set up a 19-yard touchdown pass from QB Pierce Holley to WR Brock Biestek, the capper to an 89 yard touchdown drive.
Rather than panic, however, the Mountain Hawks responded.
On the ensuing drive, RB Zaythan Hill ripped a 70 yard run and came back later to get into the end zone on a 1 yard TD run to cut the deficit to 3.
“I didn’t want these guys to get down,” he said after the game. “If we play the next play and trust the process, trust the guys are going to do their job, we can make stuff happen.”
On their next possession, the Mountain Hawks scored a go-ahead touchdown after a 5 play, 62 yard drive, highlighted by a 38 yard swing pass from QB Dante Perri to RB Jack DiPietro. Perri would find WR Eric Johnson for his first career touchdown reception, a leaning grab where the Katy, Texas native got both feet in bounds.
“Offensively, we showed a lot of resilience,” Gilmore said. “If we make a mistake or we’re not good on one play, we’ll come back and do really well on the next one. The freshmen on the offensive line are going to be great players as they mature during the course of the season, and the course of their careers. They keep battling and we do that every week, we’re going to get better and better.”
Lehigh ran for 169 net yards, with Hill and RB Gaige Garcia both notching key touchdowns in the victory. Hill, Garcia and DiPietro are part of the “stable” of Lehigh running backs.
“We take pride in the stable,” Hill said. “It’s more than just a stable, more than just a group, it’s a family, and we treat each other as family.”
Defensively Lehigh made a number of key stops of note that ensured that they came out on top.
Georgetown’s initial scoring drive was a field goal, but a series of key defensive plays by DB DJ Lawrence, DB LaTriel Wimberly and LB Mike DeNucci ensured that the Hoyas got 3 points when it could have easily been at least 6.
Off a trick play by the Hoyas, Lawrence caught up with WR Cameron Crayton and tackled him at the 1 yard line, then stuffed RB Herman Moultrie the next play on 1st-and-goal.
Wimberly then pulled down RB Joshua Stakely short of the goal line on second down, and DeNucci stuffed WR Josue Thomas short of the goal line.
Overall, DB TyGee Leach led the team in tackles, with 14 overall tackles, 13 of them solo, and 3 of them for loss. He was also in on the tackle that denied the Hoyas on their 2 point conversion try.
“We knew we needed to finish, fight until the end,” Leach said after the game. “The 2 point conversion stop, that was everyone doing their job. Read your keys, play fast, and physical, everyone trusting each other. That’s what we did, and that’s how we got the stop.”
Lehigh returns home next week for their home opener, where they’ll face off against 1-1 Richmond, while Georgetown travels to West Long Branch, NJ to take on the 0-2 Monmouth Hawks. Both are non-league matchups against CAA opponents.
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.
Reach him at: this email or click below: