It's been more than 135 years since Lafayette and Lehigh first battled on the gridiron. The Lafayette and Lehigh football rivalry, known as "The Rivalry", is the most played rivalry in college football. Together, the Leopards and Mountain Hawks have played in the longest uninterrupted rivalry game (124 seasons), playing every year since 1884 (there was no game in 1896 due to eligibility concerns and 2020’s game was played in spring 2021).
When Lafayette and Lehigh met in 2023, it marked The Rivalry’s 159th all-time meeting. The Leopards hold an 82-72-5 head-to-head edge, winning 2023's contest 49-21.
However, there's more to this rivalry than wins and losses, with immense history throughout the series. These are just a few notable happenings in football history that put The Rivalry in perspective:
- 1899: The Territorial Cup becomes the first trophy awarded for a rivalry game
- 1906: The forward pass is legalized in football
- 1913: All-time college football head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant is born
- 1920: The Akron Pros won the first NFL championship
- 1967: The Green Bay Packers won the first Super Bowl
Here are six moments chronicling Lafayette and Lehigh’s decorated pasts.
1884 - The first game
The first Lafayette-Yale football game was held in Easton, Pennsylvania in 1884. Lafayette began playing football in 1882 and approached Lehigh for competition after the standardization of football rules in 1883. Upon gameplay, “[Lehigh] knew so little of the game that only one man had [cleats] on his shoes and the rest of us slid over the worn grass as though we were on roller-skates,” said then-Lehigh football player Richard Harding Davis. Lafayette won the inaugural meeting 56-0.
1891 - The Rivalry meets for a third time at Wilkes-Barre
1891 marked the only year The Rivalry had three games and the first game in the series was not played in Easton or Bethlehem. After each school hosted a home game, Lafayette and Lehigh traveled to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to play the third meeting of the year. In front of a large crowd, Lehigh completed the season sweep, winning 16-2.
1987 - An ice-cold comeback
The 1987 edition of The Rivalry was the final college football game played at Lehigh’s Taylor Stadium. 1987 also was one of the coldest days in Rivalry history with minus-17-degree wind chills. Lehigh trailed 10-9 in the fourth quarter until QB Mark McGowan led a ten-play, 59-yard scoring drive. McGowan ran in for a touchdown, securing the 17-10 victory.
1995 - A double-overtime classic: "The Catch"
More than Rivalry bragging rights were on the line in 1995; the Patriot League title was on the line. Entering the fourth quarter, Lafayette led 30-14. A late Lehigh rally forced the first overtime game in Rivalry history.
After a scoreless first overtime, the scoreboard lights at Lehigh’s Goodman Stadium were brightened to the highest extent, providing light as the sun set. Amid darkening conditions, Lehigh’s Bob Aylsworth passed to Brian Klingerman in the end zone, with Klingerman making a spectacular one-handed catch that would go down in history. The Mountain Hawk defense would make a defensive stand on fourth-and-one to win the game.
2005 - A backup quarterback makes his mark
Lehigh entered The Rivalry in 2005 ranked 12th in the country. After Lafayette starting quarterback Brad Maurer got hurt on the first series, the Mountain Hawks played well against their rivals, leading 19-17 with just over two minutes remaining. However, Lehigh failed to run the clock out and was forced to punt the ball away to the Lafayette 15-yard line.
In front of 16,017 fans on the road, Lafayette backup quarterback Pat Davis had to lead a comeback. On fourth-and-ten, Davis found RB Jonathan Hurt for a touchdown, taking the lead with 38 seconds left. The Leopards would win 23-19, also winning their second-straight Patriot League championship.
2014- The Rivalry 150: Pinstripe Edition
In celebration of the 150th game in the series, The Rivalry moved to Yankee Stadium. The Leopards and Mountain Hawks played in front of a sellout crowd of 48,256 people. Lafayette would jump out to a 21-0 lead, holding on to win 27-7.
Lafayette vs. Lehigh: Scores, all-time series