The Rivalry (Lehigh–Lafayette)
The Rivalry is an American college football rivalry game played by the Lafayette Leopards football team of Lafayette College and the Lehigh Mountain Hawks football team of Lehigh University. It is the most-played football rivalry in the nation and the longest uninterrupted annual rivalry series. As of 2012, "The Rivalry" has been played 148 times since 1884 with only a single interruption in 1896. The college's football teams met twice annually (except 1891, when they played three games, and 1896, when they did not play at all) until 1901. The two institutions are located seventeen miles apart in eastern Pennsylvania. Though primarily alluding to football, "The Rivalry" pertains to a meeting between the two schools in all sports and other endeavors.
Despite popular belief, Harvard and Yale did not play The Game in four separate years during The Rivalry's current streak of 121 consecutive games. Furthermore, Lehigh and Lafayette met twice per season in 1943 and 1944 during World War II. The Rivalry is so old that it predates football trophies; the winning team just gets to keep the game ball. These are painted with the score and displayed in winning institution's hall of fame or in the case of Lafayette, the President's house. The evolution of the shape of the football can be seen in the displays of past game balls, since the early ones predate even the invention of the forward pass.
The football game is usually sold out months in advance and has inspired books and a PBS television documentary narrated by Harry Kalas. In 2006, ESPNU ranked The Rivalry No. 8 in their Top Ten College Football Rivalries, and Sports Illustrated has told its readers that seeing it "is something you have to do once in your life."
On November 17, 2012, prior to the 148th game, the presidents of Lafayette College and Lehigh University, Daniel Weiss and Alice Gast, respectively, jointly announced that the 150th game will be played on November 22, 2014 at Yankee Stadium in New York City, and will be broadcast on ESPN.
Although they did not meet on the football field until 1884, an anecdote from David Bishop Skillman's history of Lafayette College reveals that bad blood existed between the two places even before Lehigh was founded. When Asa Packer first moved to Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania) as an uneducated carpenter, he joined the congregation of a local Presbyterian Church following his family's footsteps. However, he did not fit in well with the other more straight-laced members of the congregation, and so left and joined an Episcopalian congregation that welcomed him.
One day, after Asa Packer had risen into affluence and before he founded Lehigh University, Ario Pardee, a coal baron from Hazleton, approached Judge Packer in connection with the addition of an engineering wing to Lafayette College. While eager at first in the proposition, Judge Packer's enthusiasm turned sour when Pardee mentioned that the school would be under the control of the Presbyterian Church. Judge Packer let him know that he would have nothing to do with any school run by the Presbyterians. Asa Packer later enlisted the help of the Episcopal Bishop of Philadelphia, William Bacon Stevens, when founding Lehigh University.
First athletic events
Lafayette records indicate that the first athletic meeting between the two schools was a series of baseball games played in Easton and Bethlehem in October 1869. The first game was a 45-45 tie, and Lafayette won the second meeting 31-24.
The first joint athletic track and field event held between the two institutions was on May 14, 1881 on the grounds of the Lehigh University Athletic Association. The meet consisted of fourteen events; Hundred Yards Dash, Half-Mile Run, Throwing the Hammer, Running High Jump, 440 Yards Dash, Mile Walk, Putting the Shot, Running Broad Jump, 220 Yards Dash, Mile Run, Pole Vaulting, 120 Yards Hurdle Race, Bicycle Race, Standing High Jump, and Tug of War. Lehigh emerged with a decisive victory winning ten of the fourteen events.
As a sign of the intense rivalry that would develop between these two schools, an article in Lafayette's student newspaper, the Lafayette College Journal, called the loss a "defeat in our recent contest with Lehigh University, -a defeat, too, doubly humiliating, coming, as it did, from an adversary in every other respect our inferior."
Lafayette football began in 1882. The game was closer to rugby back then and even the goals and touchdowns were recorded separately in the scores. After football rules were standardized in 1883, Lafayette's manager Theodore L. Welles approached Lehigh and offered to play them. Lehigh thus formed its first team in 1884, managed by Richard Harding Davis, which gamely played and lost twice to the more experienced Lafayette team.
The Lehigh freshmen were dismayed by the lack of support that the administration showed the team. They thought the rickety stands built for the 1887 event in Bethlehem were a disgrace and set them on fire at the end of the game to celebrate Lehigh's first win. Thus the tradition of exuberance surrounding the game was started.
Since the start in 1884, only in one year (1896) have the teams not met. Because few schools were playing football at the time and travel was more difficult in the horse and buggy era, Lehigh and Lafayette played each other twice in the early years with each school hosting one of the games. This continued until the development of modern football in 1902 when the current annual game was established.
Only once have Lehigh and Lafayette played other than in Easton or Bethlehem. In 1891 the teams played a third game in Wilkes-Barre, before 3,000 spectators. A newspaper report stated: "... by far the largest crowd that ever witnessed a football game in Wilkes-Barre, and the cheering of the students seemed to startle the natives." That was one of three Lehigh-Lafayette games that year; Lehigh won all three.
The Rivalry's football game has been postponed only twice. The first postponement occurred in 1904 because of the death of Dr. Henry S. Drown, president of Lehigh and former faculty member at Lafayette. The only other postponement was in 1963 when the game was moved from November 23 to November 30 following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
During World War II, the war restricted travel to other opponents and Lehigh was hosting officer training programs which limited sports programs. Thus to fill out their schedules, the nearby schools played two football games again in 1943 and 1944, with Lehigh students forming ad hoc teams just to keep The Rivalry tradition alive. The combination of only missing one year of play since 1884, plus 19 years with two games and one year with three, has led to The Rivalry becoming the most played in college football.
Before 1991, when new rules and game start times were imposed, it was traditional for the fans to tear down the temporary wooden goalposts that the schools erected for the event. The pieces were kept as souvenirs in the fraternities of each school. Eventually taking down the goalposts got out of hand with students fighting for the torn down goal posts, and with each other, as early as before the third quarter. New rules were implemented for the 1991 game played at Lehigh when H-shaped steel goalposts anchored 10 feet into the ground were first used. The fans who rushed the field were frustrated by the new changes and showed this by tearing up and throwing pieces of sod at the security guards and police who were surrounding the posts. Only one fan actually was able to climb the posts, and when he was pulled down, he was maced and handcuffed.
In recent years, the regular season ending game has often become a factor in deciding the winner of the Patriot League. During the 2004 and 2006 meetings Lehigh came into Fisher Stadium leading Lafayette by one game. Due to tie breaking rules the winner of the game would be crowned the League champion. The second runner-up during this period was Colgate University, that had beaten Lafayette or Lehigh that year. Following nine years of consecutive Lehigh victories, Lafayette earned a rare four year parade of Lafayette victories from 2004–07 wherein the Lehigh class of 2008 witnessed no football victory against Lafayette at all. This was then reversed by Lehigh, with Lehigh running a five year streak from 2008–12, making the Lafayette classes of 2012 and 2013 winless.
No game in 1896
The only year in which there was no game was 1896, when Lehigh refused to play Lafayette over a dispute about the eligibility of their best running back, George Barclay, who had played professional baseball at Chambersburg PA the previous summer. The question of his eligibility centered around whether Barclay had received more than reimbursement of travel expenses.
During a 17-0 Lehigh victory in 1918, it is rumored that Lehigh halfback Raymond B. "Snooks" Dowd ran 115 yards for a touchdown. As Lehigh Athletic Media Relations relate the story, "Dowd ran the wrong way, circled his own goalposts," and then ran the length of the field for the touchdown eluding Lafayette's All-American linebacker Zac "Baker" Howes in the process. Some reports have been exaggerated to credit the length of the run to as much as 160 yards.
The 1995 game, the first year in which the Patriot League used overtime, was decided in the second overtime session. Following a 30-30 regulation score and a scoreless first possession of overtime, Lehigh wide receiver Brian Klingerman caught a pass with one hand from quarterback Bob Aylsworth in the back of the end zone. The catch not only won the game for Lehigh, which trailed 30-14 midway in the fourth quarter, but led them to clinch the Patriot League championship.
148 meetings since 1884
- Lafayette - 76
- Lehigh - 67
- Ties - 5
|Games won by Lafayette||
|Games won by Lehigh||
|1||1884||Easton||Lafayette||50-0||First Game - Standardized Football Rules only established previous year|
|16||1891||Wilkes-Barre||Lehigh||6-2||Only neutral-site game until 2014, and only year with three games.|
|18||1892||Easton||Lafayette||4-0||Lafayette breaks 9-game unbeaten streak by Lehigh|
|1896||Due to an eligibility dispute, only year teams did not play each other.
Lafayette National Champions (co-champs with Princeton)
|36||1902||Easton||Lehigh||6-0||Modern era of one game per year|
|37||1903||Bethlehem||Lehigh||12-6||Wright Brothers fly|
|38||1904||Easton||Lafayette||40-6||Delayed a week due to death of Henry Drown (Lehigh president)|
|40||1906||Easton||Lafayette||33-0||Forward Pass invented by future Lehigh coach|
|43||1909||Bethlehem||Lafayette||21-0||Lafayette T Aaron Crane throws first-ever TD pass in series|
|45||1911||Bethlehem||Lafayette||11-0||Dannehour outduels Pazzetti; est. 10,000 fans attended game|
|46||1912||Easton||Lehigh||10-0||Lehigh QB "Pat" Pazzetti throws first TD pass in series for Lehigh in victory|
|51||1917||Bethlehem||Lehigh||78-0||Largest margin of victory (Lehigh)|
|55||1921||Bethlehem||Lafayette||28-6||Lafayette National Champions|
|56||1922||Easton||Lafayette||3-0||Game-winner kicked with 45 seconds remaining|
|58||1924||Easton||Lafayette||7-0||Last March Field game|
|60||1926||Easton||Lafayette||35-0||First Fisher Field game; Lafayette National Champions|
|63||1929||Bethlehem||Lehigh||13-12||Substitute center Ayre blocks kicks to seal victory|
|71||1937||Bethlehem||Lafayette||6-0||Lafayette undefeated; Tony Cavallo's TD only score|
|77||1943||Easton||Lafayette||39-7||Played two games due to wartime travel restrictions|
|79||1944||Easton||Lafayette||44-0||Played two games due to wartime travel restrictions|
|80||1944||Easton||Lafayette||64-0||Largest margin of victory (Lafayette)(Note that Lehigh's 1943-44 teams were ad hoc students due to wartime military training operations on campus)|
|83||1947||Bethlehem||Lafayette||7-0||Game Played at Liberty HS Field|
|84||1948||Easton||Lafayette||23-13||Largest crowd to witness a game (21,000)|
|85||1949||Bethlehem||Lafayette||21-12||Game Played at Liberty HS Field|
|86||1950||Easton||Lehigh||38-0||Lehigh Undefeated; breaks 15-game unbeaten Lafayette streak|
|87||1951||Bethlehem||Lehigh||51-0||Game Played at Liberty HS Field|
|99||1963||Bethlehem||Lehigh||15-8||Delayed a week due to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy|
|100||1964||Easton||Tie||6-6||100th Meeting; Missed extra points seal tie; both teams combine for one win on year|
|106||1970||Easton||Lafayette||31-28||Rick Nowell kicks game-winning FG with 1:10 left|
|113||1977||Bethlehem||Lehigh||35-17||Lehigh National Div II Champions|
|115||1979||Bethlehem||Lehigh||24-3||Lehigh National Div 1-AA Runners-Up|
|117||1981||Bethlehem||Lafayette||10-3||First live TV broadcast (WLVT-TV); Taylor Stadium attendance record (19,414)|
|120||1984||Easton||Lafayette||28-7||100th anniversary of first meeting|
|122||1986||Easton||Lafayette||28-23||Colonial League Established|
|123||1987||Bethlehem||Lehigh||17-10||Last Taylor Stadium Game|
|124||1988||Easton||Lafayette||52-45||Largest number of combined points scored, game (97).
Lafayette Colonial League Champions (only team to dethrone Holy Cross during '86-'91 seasons when HC retained scholarships)
|125||1989||Bethlehem||Lafayette||36-21||First Goodman Stadium Game; 125th Meeting; 100th consecutive meeting|
|126||1990||Easton||Lehigh||35-14||Colonial League changes name to Patriot League|
|128||1992||Easton||Lafayette||32-29||Lafayette Patriot League Champions|
|129||1993||Bethlehem||Lehigh||39-14||Lehigh Patriot League Champions; First national telecast; First college football game ever televised on ESPN2|
|130||1994||Easton||Lafayette||54-20||Lafayette Patriot League Champions|
|131||1995||Bethlehem||Lehigh||37-30||Lehigh Patriot League Champions|
|132||1996||Easton||Lehigh||23-19||First internet streamed game|
|133||1997||Bethlehem||Lehigh||43-31||100 years of an annual game|
|134||1998||Easton||Lehigh||31-7||Lehigh Patriot League Champions|
|136||2000||Easton||Lehigh||31-17||Lehigh Patriot League Champions|
|137||2001||Bethlehem||Lehigh||41-6||Lehigh Patriot League Champions|
|140||2004||Easton||Lafayette||24-10||Game decided Patriot League champions (Lafayette & Lehigh); Lafayette wears black uniforms for the first time|
|141||2005||Bethlehem||Lafayette||23-19||Game decided Patriot League champions (Lafayette & Colgate)|
|142||2006||Easton||Lafayette||49-27||First game in renovated Fisher Stadium, on artificial turf, to use artificial illumination, and to be broadcast in high definition television. Game decided Patriot League champions (Lafayette & Lehigh)|
|146||2010||Easton||Lehigh||20-13||Lehigh Patriot League Champions|
|147||2011||Bethlehem||Lehigh||37-13||Lehigh Patriot League Champions; Lafayette wears retro 1960s uniforms|
All Sports Trophy
The Rivalry was further cemented by the creation of the "All Sports Trophy" in 1968. The trophy is held by the school which wins the most varsity sports meetings during a school year. One point is awarded per victory. At the year end, points are totaled to determine the overall champion.
All Sports Trophy record
- Men's sports
- Years won by Lehigh - 34
- Years won by Lafayette - 2
- Ties - 6
- Women's sports
- Years won by Lafayette - 12
- Years won by Lehigh - 10
- Ties - 0
- "Lafayette-Lehigh Rivalry to be Featured by ESPN". Lafayette Athletics. Lafayette College. Retrieved 8-10-2011.
- "150th Lafayette-Lehigh Meeting to be Played at Yankee Stadium in 2014". Lafayette Athletics. Patriot League. Retrieved 11-17-2012.
- Whelan, Frank; Lance Metz (1990). The Diaries of Robert Hersham Sayre. Lehigh University.
- March, Francis A. (1926). Athletics at Lafayette College. Easton, PA: Lafayette College. p. 272.
- Bowen, Catherine Drinker (1924). History of Lehigh University. The Lehigh Alumni Bulletin.
- Lafayette College Journal 6 (9): 1. June 1881 http://newspaper.lafayette.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=%2Flafayette&CISOPTR=30560&REC=11
|url=missing title (help). Retrieved 19 MAR 09.
- "Lehigh Football Game Notes, Lehigh vs. Lafayette, 139th Meeting". Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- Rappaport, Ken; Barry Wilner (2007). Football Feuds: The Greatest College Football Rivalries. Globe Pequot. p. 137. ISBN 978-1-59921-014-8.
- Blockus, Gary R. (November 19, 1995). "Klingerman, Aylsworth Go Out Champs". The Morning Call. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- Memories of the Rivalry
- Lafayette-Lehigh Above All Others
- Lehigh and Lafayette Are Still Playing After All Those Years - New York Times
- One Hundred and Twenty Years in the Making
- I-AA.Org Story and Photos of the 142nd Game
- Legends of Lehigh/Lafayette; College Football's Most-played Rivalry by Todd Davidson and Bob Donchez, 1995
- The Lehigh/Lafayette Legacy, PBS, 2004