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The Rivalry (Lehigh-Lafayette)

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The Rivalry (Lehigh-Lafayette)

Lehigh vs. Lafayette
First meeting: Lafayette 50, Lehigh 0
October 25, 1884
Latest meeting: Lehigh 38, Lafayette 21
November 17, 2012
Next meeting: November 23, 2013, Bethlehem, PA
Total meetings: 148 (most in college football)
Series record Lafayette: 76–67–5
Largest victory Lehigh: 78–0 (1917)
Longest streak Lafayette: 10 (1919–1928)
Current streak Lehigh: 5 wins (2008–2012)
Trophy: None

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."[1]

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.[2]

Series history

Early days

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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5]

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."[6]

Early football

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.

Modern era

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.

Memorable moments

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.[4]

Longest run

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.[7] Some reports have been exaggerated to credit the length of the run to as much as 160 yards.[8]

Overtime catch

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.[7][9]

Football record


148 meetings since 1884

  • Lafayette - 76
  • Lehigh - 67
  • Ties - 5

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Lafayette-Lehigh game results
from 1884 to 2012
Games won by Lafayette
Games won by Lehigh
Games tied

Individual games

Game Year Site Winner Score Notes
1 1884 Easton Lafayette 50-0 First Game - Standardized Football Rules only established previous year
2 1884 Bethlehem Lafayette 34-4
3 1885 Easton Lafayette 6-0
4 1885 Easton Tie 6-6
5 1886 Easton Lafayette 12-0
6 1886 Bethlehem Lafayette 4-0
7 1887 Bethlehem Lehigh 10-4
8 1887 Easton Lafayette 6-0
9 1888 Easton Lehigh 6-4
10 1888 Bethlehem Lehigh 16-0
11 1889 Bethlehem Lehigh 16-10
12 1889 Easton Tie 6-6
13 1890 Easton Lehigh 30-0
14 1890 Bethlehem Lehigh 66-6
15 1891 Bethlehem Lehigh 22-4
16 1891 Wilkes-Barre Lehigh 6-2 Only neutral-site game until 2014, and only year with three games.
17 1891 Easton Lehigh 16-2
18 1892 Easton Lafayette 4-0 Lafayette breaks 9-game unbeaten streak by Lehigh
19 1892 Bethlehem Lehigh 15-6
20 1893 Bethlehem Lehigh 22-6
21 1893 Easton Lehigh 10-0
22 1894 Easton Lafayette 28-0
23 1894 Bethlehem Lehigh 11-8
24 1895 Bethlehem Lafayette 22-12
25 1895 Easton Lafayette 14-6
1896 Due to an eligibility dispute, only year teams did not play each other.

Lafayette National Champions (co-champs with Princeton)

26 1897 Easton Lafayette 34-0
27 1897 Bethlehem Lafayette 22-0
28 1898 Bethlehem Lehigh 22-0
29 1898 Easton Lafayette 11-5
30 1899 Easton Lafayette 17-0
31 1899 Bethlehem Lafayette 35-0
32 1900 Bethlehem Lafayette 34-0
33 1900 Easton Lafayette 18-0
34 1901 Easton Lafayette 29-0
35 1901 Bethlehem Lafayette 41-0
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)
39 1905 Bethlehem Lafayette 53-0
40 1906 Easton Lafayette 33-0 Forward Pass invented by future Lehigh coach
41 1907 Bethlehem Lafayette 22-5
42 1908 Easton Lehigh 11-5
43 1909 Bethlehem Lafayette 21-0 Lafayette T Aaron Crane throws first-ever TD pass in series
44 1910 Easton Lafayette 14-0 NCAA Established
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
47 1913 Bethlehem Lehigh 7-0
48 1914 Easton Lehigh 17-7
49 1915 Bethlehem Lafayette 35-6
50 1916 Easton Lehigh 16-0 50th Meeting
51 1917 Bethlehem Lehigh 78-0 Largest margin of victory (Lehigh)
52 1918 Easton Lehigh 17-0
53 1919 Bethlehem Lafayette 10-6
54 1920 Easton Lafayette 27-7
55 1921 Bethlehem Lafayette 28-6 Lafayette National Champions
56 1922 Easton Lafayette 3-0 Game-winner kicked with 45 seconds remaining
57 1923 Bethlehem Lafayette 13-3
58 1924 Easton Lafayette 7-0 Last March Field game
59 1925 Bethlehem Lafayette 14-0
60 1926 Easton Lafayette 35-0 First Fisher Field game; Lafayette National Champions
61 1927 Bethlehem Lafayette 43-0
62 1928 Easton Lafayette 38-14
63 1929 Bethlehem Lehigh 13-12 Substitute center Ayre blocks kicks to seal victory
64 1930 Easton Lafayette 16-6
65 1931 Bethlehem Lafayette 13-7
66 1932 Easton Lafayette 25-6
67 1933 Bethlehem Lafayette 54-12
68 1934 Easton Lehigh 13-7
69 1935 Bethlehem Lehigh 48-0
70 1936 Easton Lehigh 18-0
71 1937 Bethlehem Lafayette 6-0 Lafayette undefeated; Tony Cavallo's TD only score
72 1938 Easton Lafayette 6-0
73 1939 Bethlehem Lafayette 29-13
74 1940 Easton Lafayette 46-0 Lafayette undefeated
75 1941 Bethlehem Lafayette 47-7 75th Meeting
76 1942 Easton Tie 7-7
77 1943 Easton Lafayette 39-7 Played two games due to wartime travel restrictions
78 1943 Bethlehem Lafayette 58-0
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)
81 1945 Bethlehem Lafayette 7-0
82 1946 Easton Lafayette 13-0
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
88 1952 Easton Lehigh 14-7
89 1953 Bethlehem Lafayette 33-13
90 1954 Easton Lafayette 46-0
91 1955 Bethlehem Lafayette 35-6
92 1956 Easton Lehigh 27-10
93 1957 Bethlehem Lehigh 26-13
94 1958 Easton Tie 14-14
95 1959 Bethlehem Lafayette 28-6
96 1960 Easton Lehigh 26-3
97 1961 Bethlehem Lehigh 17-14
98 1962 Easton Lehigh 13-6
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
101 1965 Bethlehem Lehigh 20-14
102 1966 Easton Lafayette 16-0
103 1967 Bethlehem Lafayette 6-0
104 1968 Easton Lehigh 21-6
105 1969 Bethlehem Lehigh 36-19
106 1970 Easton Lafayette 31-28 Rick Nowell kicks game-winning FG with 1:10 left
107 1971 Bethlehem Lehigh 48-19
108 1972 Easton Lehigh 14-6
109 1973 Bethlehem Lehigh 45-13
110 1974 Easton Lehigh 57-7
111 1975 Bethlehem Lehigh 40-14
112 1976 Easton Lafayette 21-17
113 1977 Bethlehem Lehigh 35-17 Lehigh National Div II Champions
114 1978 Easton Lehigh 23-15
115 1979 Bethlehem Lehigh 24-3 Lehigh National Div 1-AA Runners-Up
116 1980 Easton Lehigh 32-0
117 1981 Bethlehem Lafayette 10-3 First live TV broadcast (WLVT-TV); Taylor Stadium attendance record (19,414)
118 1982 Easton Lafayette 34-6
119 1983 Bethlehem Lehigh 22-14
120 1984 Easton Lafayette 28-7 100th anniversary of first meeting
121 1985 Bethlehem Lehigh 24-19
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
127 1991 Bethlehem Lehigh 36-18
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
135 1999 Bethlehem Lehigh 14-12
136 2000 Easton Lehigh 31-17 Lehigh Patriot League Champions
137 2001 Bethlehem Lehigh 41-6 Lehigh Patriot League Champions
138 2002 Easton Lafayette 14-7
139 2003 Bethlehem Lehigh 30-10
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)
143 2007 Bethlehem Lafayette 21-17
144 2008 Easton Lehigh 31-15
145 2009 Bethlehem Lehigh 27-21 Overtime
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
148 2012 Easton Lehigh 38-21

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



  • 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
  • , PBS, 2004

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