The annual contest between Lehigh University and Lafayette College has been in effect for 126 years and for 146 meetings. It is college football’s most played rivalry. The discrepancy between the number of years and the number of games is due to the fact that the teams played each other twice a year prior to the turn of the 20th century. The game was not played in 1896. This was due to an issue involving the eligibility of a Lafayette player. Only once have Lehigh and Lafayette played other than in Easton or Bethlehem. In 1891 the teams played a third game in Wilkes-Barre. In 1950, Lehigh’s victory ended a 15 year losing streak against Lafayette. In 1963, the game was delayed for one week due to the death of President Kennedy. In 1964, the 100th game ended in a 6-6 tie. In 1987 (game 123), Lehigh defeated Lafayette in the last game played at Taylor Stadium. Although Lafayette won the first game played at brand new Goodman Stadium in 1989, Lehigh has won 9 of the last 11 at Goodman, and 16 of 25 since Patriot League play began. Lehigh has won the last three contests, including an overtime thriller in 2009. The overall record stands at Lafayette 76, Lehigh 66. There have been 5 ties.
In recent years, Lehigh has enjoyed great success under winning coaches. Former assistant Kevin Higgins coached the team for seven seasons, compiling an overall record of 56-25-1 for a winning percentage of 68%. His teams captured four PL championships and went 30-9 in league play. Lehigh enjoyed high national rankings during this period. Lehigh went 6-1 against Lafayette under Higgins and was 2-3 in five playoff appearances. Both wins were road victories. Higgins joined the Detroit Lions of the NFL following the 2000 season. The coaching job went to Lehigh assistant Pete Lembo in 2001. Lembo’s team promptly went 11-0 and won the Patriot League. The team made to the quarter finals of the national tournament. In Lembo’s five years as head coach, Lehigh won 44 games, claimed two Patriot League titles, made two playoff appearances and dominated league play (26-7). His teams were also nationally ranked in three of the five years. Lembo took on the challenge presented by the Elon University and left Lehigh following the 2005 season. Lehigh went outside of the program to hire Andy Coen. Coen had been offensive coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania. Coen had been a Lehigh assistant under Higgins, between 1995 and 1999. Under Andy Coen, Lehigh has compiled a winning record and has won over 69% of Patriot League games, including three titles. The 2010 team made it to the second round of the national playoffs, beating Northern Iowa on the road before losing to finalist Delaware the next round. The 2011 team lost only one regular season game, then entered the playoffs and claiming a one-point win at CAA champion Towson University. The Mountain Hawks lost in the semi-finals to eventual national champions North Dakota State. Although expectations were somewhat lower, the 2012 season turned out successfully. Lehigh went 10-1, and the team managed to win many close contests. The lone loss was to eventual league champ Colgate. Under Coen, Lehigh has managed to win 21 of the last 24 league games including 18 in a row. Lehigh has also won 31 of the last 36 games played overall, since 2010. They capped the 2012 season with another win over Lafayette, 38-21. Lehigh is 51 and 29 under Andy Coen, with three league titles, two playoff road wins and national rankings.
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Famous quotes containing the word rivalry:
“It seems to me that we have to draw the line in sibling rivalry whenever rivalry goes out of bounds into destructive behavior of a physical or verbal kind. The principle needs to be this: Whatever the reasons for your feelings you will have to find civilized solutions.”
—Selma H. Fraiberg (20th century)