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By Geoff Gehman ’80

On Saturday afternoon, Kaitlyn Lutz ’18 stood near Yankee Stadium’s giant video board, a pixel-popping vision in a leopard-spotted jumpsuit. The whiskered fan practically levitated with excitement at attending Lafayette’s historic 150th football game with Lehigh at a hallowed field.

View images from the game
Leopards dominate Lehigh in 150th Rivalry game
College launches the Campaign for Lafayette

Joe Cox '68, trustee, and his family enjoy the pregame social at Audi Yankees Club suite.

Joe Cox ’68, trustee, and his family enjoy the pregame social at Audi Yankees Club suite.

Lutz stood out in a sea of spots worn by fellow students in the right-field grandstand. Her peers modeled leopard scarves, leggings, coats, earmuffs, and ears—more spots than at the Bronx Zoo. It was enough to make Brian Fogler ’16 wish he had invested in a costume company. A special day, and all the more so because it was his first time in New York since he was a 4-year-old at FAO Schwarz, the Yankee Stadium of toy stores.

Fogler and Lutz, among the sold-out crowd of 48,256 fans, had plenty to cheer about.

–They applauded the halftime spectacle of more than 350 students from Lafayette and Lehigh including the percussion ensemble, with dance teams and cheerleaders kicking to “New York, New York” in a Rockettes-like line that stretched 60 yards. The show also featured a Lafayette Pep Band performance alone and combined with the Lehigh Marching 97 Band, and a finale with both bands, both choirs, and all the dance and cheerleading teams. The choirs also helped kick-off the game by singing the national anthem together.

–They laughed at the video board playing a comic competition between the school’s mascots.

–They roared at an image of the Empire State Building lit maroon and white (and brown). They roared loudest at running back Ross Scheurman ‘15 rushing for three touchdowns and a record 304 yards in Lafayette’s 27-7 win. His MVP performance will make a collector’s item out of the oversized cardboard cutout of his head that his mother carried like an MVP promo.

Lafayette did more than beat Lehigh in this historic game, it also won the fifth annual Lafayette-Lehigh Giving Challenge, 8,696 points to 8,148. The mascot’s competition over the last several weeks culminated in a live race on the field with the Leopard crossing the finish line first. President Alison Byerly was presented with the challenge trophy.

Tailback Ross Scheuerman ’15 ran for a team record 304 yards.

Tailback Ross Scheuerman ’15 ran for a team record 304 yards.

Before the game Lafayette graduates ate MVP food in an airport-terminal-sized luxury lounge with a luxurious view of the field. Playing Lehigh at the new Yankee Stadium meant a lot to Joe Cox ’68, trustee and a retired Army colonel who taught literature at West Point. It was here in 2010 that he and his son Matt, a military academy graduate serving in Afghanistan, attended the stadium’s first football game, between Notre Dame and Army.

Rivalry 150 ranks high on Cox’s list of Lafayette highlights. He’s proud of his daughter Ansley ’03 playing in the NCAA lacrosse playoffs. He’s proud of representing West Point during the inauguration of Arthur Rothkopf ’55, Lafayette’s 15th president. That day Cox wore military dress whites rather than academic robes in honor of Prof. William Watt, his English mentor and a wicked wit. “I wanted to get a rise out of him,” said Cox with a smile. “He gave me a lot of guff.”

Dave Reif ’68, Cox’s classmate, got a rise out of his daughter, a Lehigh graduate, by betting $5 on the game’s outcome. “Big money,” he said with a chuckle. “And there will be a lot of texting during the game.”

Head Coach Frank Tavani has a word with one of the officials.

Head Coach Frank Tavani has a word with one of the officials.

The pre-game banter was breezy at Billy’s Sports Bar. Sue Bollman Duvall ’81 celebrated a party that she and her husband Phil Duvall ’81 had attended the night before with a dozen of his Zeta Psi brothers at the New Jersey home of Dillard Kirby ’81. “The camaraderie means more to me than the game,” she said.

The audience during Thursday’s Friends of Lafayette Football lunch at the Princeton Club included four members of the Maroon Club Hall of Fame and announcer Jim Finnen, who on Saturday called his final Lafayette game, capping 50 years at the mike for the Leopards. They listened to a story about researching Yankee Stadium as a Rivalry 150 site from Mark Holtzman ’80, the Yankees’ executive director of non-baseball events. Holtzman said he had a good idea that a Bronx game would be a financial success after he and his son Greg, who attended Lehigh, received promises to buy tickets from more than 90 percent of their college constituents. The rush of sales for Rivalry 150, he added, made a match between the ancient rivals seem more like a Paul McCartney concert.

Football coach Frank Tavani turned a Q&A into an enlightening, entertaining act. He admitted the possibility of scholarships allowing him to inch closer to recruiting parity with Ivy League schools. He admitted the impossibility of calming down after his April heart attack. True to his excitable nature, he chided ESPN for not staging its College Gameday program at the game. “They’re going to Harvard-Yale,” he said, “not to the best rivalry in the country.”

Mark Holtzman '80, Yankees executive director of non-baseball events, holds a pregame toast with Board Chair Ed Ahart '69, and President Alison Byerly.

Mark Holtzman ’80, Yankees executive director of non-baseball events, holds a pregame toast with Board Chair Ed Ahart ’69, and President Alison Byerly.

Tavani’s walk-through-fire intensity impressed veterans of the 100th Lehigh game. John Meeks ’65, a fullback/linebacker, remembered the 6-6 tie as pretty dull, even with goal-line stands. The most exciting play was made by John Littleton ’65, who saved the day by blocking a point-after kick, confirming his heroic Robin Hood nickname of “Little John.”

Meeks had traveled from California on a train. He reunited after nearly 50 years with his old roommate, split end Jim Martin ’67. Martin recalled that the 100th Lafayette-Lehigh game generated much less hoopla than the 150th. Sports Illustrated ran a preview and a Dallas Cowboys scout shadowed quarterback George Hossenlopp ’65, who on Saturday repeated his 1964 opening coin-toss role.

Michael McClintock ’71 played offensive tackle on the 1968 team, the only Lafayette squad to wear “Beat Lehigh” on a uniform. Losing the game cost the Leopards a chance to win the Lambert Cup and a chance for McClintock to keep the novel jersey. “It turned out to be a curse for us,” he said with a rueful smile.

Trustee Hal Kamine '78 hangs out with Joe Maddon '76.

Trustee Hal Kamine ’78 hangs out with Joe Maddon ’76.

Lafayette and Lehigh supporters mingled and bonded during Thursday’s Rally for the Rivalry at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. Daniella Colon ’10 said she bought two tickets to the 150th game the day they went on sale, extra excited to attend a game in the Bronx, her home borough.

The star of the party was Joe Maddon ’76, the new manager of the Chicago Cubs and one of Lafayette’s best-known living grads. He hugged classmates like Betsy Fadem ’76 and posed for photos with fellow former baseball players like Bill Tucker ’81, whose son Nick ’08 was the last player to wear Maddon’s 22 before the number was retired.

Maddon discussed his Lafayette football exploits—he saved a game as a first-year quarterback—with Andrew Nygren ’89, an ex-center and captain, and Daryl Boich ’90, an ex-linebacker. Nygren helped convince Boich to come to Lafayette by showing the then-high schooler a good time and then a good example by studying late at night, a light attached to a book. “He made me think, holy smokes, man,” said Boich, “when you go to school you rock and roll!”

Michael ’82 and Jenny Marshall ’82 Weisburger arrived in Easton after their cross-country trip in the Leopard Airstream.

Michael ’82 and Jenny Marshall ’82 Weisburger arrived in Easton after their cross-country trip in the Leopard Airstream.

The Rivalry 150 party began rocking and rolling last Saturday at a kickoff celebration in Easton’s Centre Square. Colton Bamford ’17 insisted he had had zero interest in football while being home-schooled in his native Souderton, Pa. His interest zoomed during last year’s Lehigh game, which Lafayette won 50-28. The rout persuaded him to buy a ticket to Lehigh 150 and brave the Yankee Stadium cold.

The pep-rally mascot was an Airstream hauled by Mike and Jenny Weisburger ’82 to Lafayette reunions and unions in 17 states over 4,500 miles. Their adventures ranged from Wichita barbeque supplied by Sam Stuart ’13, a former Leopard linebacker who coaches a semi-pro team in China, to visiting their son at Elon University in North Carolina, where they had a surprise meeting with Damian Wroblewski ’99, Elon’s offensive coordinator.

Mike Weisburger spoke of the epic trip as an ultimate tailgate friendship party. He marveled at “how 30-year-old memories flooded back in two minutes.”

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  1. Clayton Ames '66 says:

    At the telecast party in Philadelphia there was no sound, so the discussion concerned why in the world for this “historic” game at this “important” venue did Lafayette take the field in black uniforms. We understand that Lehigh is trying to sneak away from being Engineers and wearing Brown and White, but why were *we* wearing BLACK?

  2. For a milestone rivalry event like the 150th, why not wear our traditional maroon and white
    colors………..other than that, everything was great! A traditional alumnus, Class of 1963

  3. Christy John Sutton '70 says:

    great job done by both schools!
    really proud of Lafayette’s efforts in all phases of the event, especially the Game.
    great to see many my “old” friends and make some new ones.

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