Early Mistakes Cost Football Team In Season-Opening Loss
Sept. 20, 2003
PRINCETON, N.J.--Chad Schwenk threw for 301 yards and four touchdowns and Lehigh forced four Princeton turnovers, all in the first half, as the Mountain Hawks defeated the Tigers, 28-13, before 15,205 at Princeton Stadium Saturday night.
Schwenk, who finished 24-for-41 through the air for the evening, found three different receivers for touchdowns in leading Lehigh (3-0) to its seventh straight victory over Princeton (0-1) dating back to the 1996 season. The senior quarterback led the Mountain Hawks to a 14-0 halftime lead with two first-quarter touchdown passes and then helped put the game out of reach in the third quarter with touchdown throws to Adam Kovacs midway through quarter and Jermaine Pugh late in the third.
The Tigers, who actually outgained Lehigh 400-389 for the game, then put two scores on the board in a three-minute span early in the fourth quarter but couldn't get any closer. The first came on a 75-yard touchdown pass from Matt Verbit to B.J. Szymanski with 13:46 left in the game that made the score 28-7 Lehigh, and the second was a 19-yard Verbit pass to Blair Morrison on a fourth-and-11 situation with 10:37 left that pulled the Tigers within 28-13. Verbit finished the game 16-for-36 through the air for 296 yards, including three for 105 yards to Szymanski, but fumbled three times in the first 30 minutes. The junior quarterback was also Princeton's leading rusher, running for 70 yards on 13 carries. Four Tiger running backs ran for just 34 yards on 16 carries.
The Mountain Hawks jumped ahead quickly, scoring on their opening drive, an eight-play, 69-yarder that finished with a 19-yard pass from Schwenk to Pugh with 11:16 on the first-quarter clock. The Tigers then had a solid drive of their own on their first possession of the 2003 season, but it stalled at the Lehigh 28 and a Derek Javarone 45-yard field goal attempt was wide right.
Despite a miss by Matt Douglas on a 50-yard field goal attempt on their next drive, the Mountain Hawks would jump ahead 14-0 thanks to a Tom McGoey interception of a Verbit pass attempt on the first play of the ensuing Princeton drive. On the next play from scrimmage, from Princeton's 25-yard line, Schwenk found Adam Bergen in the end zone to give his team a two-touchdown advantage.
Schwenk hooked up with Bergen 12 times for 173 yards and found eight different targets overall. Pugh ran for 64 yards on 23 carries to lead the Mountain Hawks, but the Tigers held Lehigh to just 88 net yards rushing on 40 carries.
Three Princeton first-half drives ended with turnovers, none more costly than a fumbled handoff attempt by Verbit at the Lehigh 12-yard line. Following the 25-yard Schwenk-to-Bergen touchdown pass, Princeton was driving and looking for a chance to cut its deficit in half, but Verbit and fullback Joel Mancl muffed the handoff attempt, and the Lehigh defensive line pounced on it.
It was one of three first-half turnovers by Verbit, who fumbled one other time and threw the interception to McGeoy. The Princeton defense did well to keep the Tigers in the game, pitching a shutout in the second quarter.
The Tigers, who have now lost five straight season openers, play at Lafayette next Saturday.