Story and photo courtesy of Lehigh Athletics
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh football team took an early 14-0 lead and didn’t look back as the Mountain Hawks improved to 6-0 behind a convincing 35-14 win over Columbia on Saturday. Senior Mike Colvin impressed, going 29-of-38 with four touchdowns while rushing for a score as well. Junior Sergio Fernandez-Soto had a career day with eight catches for 120 yards and a touchdown.
Senior Jamel Haggins added five receptions for 84 yards and two touchdowns while senior Ryan Spadola had five catches for 36 yards and his first touchdown of the season. Senior Zach Barket ran for a team-high 41 yards while Colvin added 38 on the ground.
Lehigh held a 415-245 in total yards, including 296-163 through the air and 119-82 on the ground. Three Mountain Hawks finished with a team-high six tackles, including senior Sam Loughery and sophomore Isaiah Campbell who also posted a sack. Seniors Bryan Andrews and Gabe Johnson each had an interception.
The Mountain Hawks opened the game on a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive in 5:25, capped off by a 17-yard touchdown catch by Spadola, his first score of the season. Colvin went 7-for-7 on the drive, hitting five different receivers, as Barket rushed for 23 yards on four carries, including a 16-yard scamper to set up first-and-goal at the Columbia six yard line.
After the Lions drove down to the Lehigh 24 following a 26-yard screen pass, Andrews intercepted Columbia quarterback Sean Brackett and returned the ball 51 yards back to the Columbia 30 yard line. The Lions were then hit with a 15-yard penalty after the play. The ensuing play resulted in a 12-yard strike from Colvin to Haggins as the Mountain Hawks took a 14-0 lead with 6:31 to go in the first quarter.
The next drive was déjà vu for the Lions as Brackett was again intercepted, this time by Johnson. The Lehigh drive was stopped short on the Columbia 21-yard line, but the Mountain Hawks missed a 38-yard field goal, as the ball clipped the left upright.
The first quarter ended with the 14-0 Lehigh advantage as Colvin went a perfect 9-for-9 in the quarter for 84 yards and two touchdowns. However, the second quarter started abruptly for the Mountain Hawk offense as Colvin was picked by linebacker Zach Olinger just 1:45 in and ran it back for a 14-yard score to cut the Lehigh lead to 14-7.
Colvin and the rest of the Mountain Hawk offense finished off the first half on a 14-play, 80-yard drive that concluded with a five-yard rushing touchdown by Colvin. The senior quarterback hit Fernandez-Soto three times on the drive for 53 yards as the Mountain Hawks marched down the field in 6:27, scoring with 55 seconds to play in the first half.
Colvin finished the half 17-of-21 for 170 and two touchdowns. Fernandez-Soto had four catches for 61 yards, Haggins made four for 54 and Spadola grabbed three for 25 and a touchdown. Colvin led the rushing attack with 25 yards while Barket had 23.
Lehigh forced a Columbia punt on each of its first two drives while the offense converted its fourth touchdown to take a 28-7 lead midway through the third quarter. The Mountain Hawks went 59 yards on five plays as Colvin found Haggins over the middle for a 30-yard touchdown pass. That gave Lehigh its largest lead of the game with 4:34 left in the third quarter.
A Lions punt, which hit a Lehigh player, was recovered by Columbia at the 26-yard line. All it took was one play for Marcorus Garrett to scamper 26 yards into the corner of the end zone to pull the Lions back within 28-14 with 12 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Columbia got the ball with just over 10 minutes left in the fourth, looking to pull within one score. The Lions would go 10 plays, but a fourth-down pass attempt fell incomplete to give Lehigh the ball back at its own 45-yard line.
Lehigh made it count as it took only eight plays to make it 35-14. The drive was capped off by a 24-yard pass to a wide-open Fernandez-Soto in the right corner of the end zone. It marked his first-career touchdown reception with 4:25 left in the fourth quarter.
The Mountain Hawks went on to force a Lions’ punt, then stop, them on downs in the final seconds, to hold onto the 35-14 win.
Lehigh will hit the road next Saturday for a big Patriot League game at Georgetown. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. The Mountain Hawks return home on Saturday, Oct. 20 to host Bucknell at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are still available, and may be purchased in one of three ways: by visiting the Lehigh ticket office located in Stabler Arena, by calling (610) 7LU-GAME, or on-line anytime at Lehighsports.com.