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In many ways, 'The Rivalry' between Lehigh, Lafayette is unrivaled

The schools have played 147 times since 1884 in college football's longest uninterrupted series. Lehigh wins the latest installment, 37-13, but Lafayette still leads all time, 76-66-5.

November 19, 2011|By Mike Hiserman

Harvard and Yale have "The Game," and Stanford and California tried to take it a step further by calling theirs "The Big Game."

Bigger still — at least in terms of longevity — is a series called simply "The Rivalry."

Saturday in Bethlehem, Pa., Lehigh and Lafayette universities played football for the 147th time, college football's most-played and longest uninterrupted series.

Lehigh won easily, 37-13, capping a second consecutive 6-0 Patriot League season and improving to 10-1 overall as Chris Lum, who holds the school's single-season records for completions, yards passing and touchdown passes, thew for 279 yards.

The Mountain Hawks have won the last four games in the series; Lafayette (4-7, 1-4) won the previous four.

The first game between the eastern Pennsylvania schools, located 17 miles apart, took place in 1884. They have played at least once each year since 1897.

The winning school doesn't get a little brown jug or an ax or, as you might expect in that region, something steel-plated. "The Rivalry" is even older than trophies. To the winner goes the game ball, which is painted in school colors with the score and put on display.

A few other things about The Rivalry:

•Lafayette leads the series, 76-66. There have been five ties.

•Lehigh has won four in a row; Lafayette has the longest winning streak in the series, 10, from 1919-28.

•Lehigh won in the biggest rout, 78-0, in 1917; Lafayette enjoyed the most dominant streak, winning six consecutive games between 1943-47 in which it outscored Lehigh, 193-0.

•There have been 52 shutouts, but none since 1980.

•George "Rose" Barclay, a running back on the 1896 Lafayette team, was widely credited with inventing the football helmet.

•Before new rules took effect in 1991, fans of the winning team traditionally tore down temporary wooden goal posts with fraternities keeping the pieces as souvenirs.

•Plays during overtime in the 1995 game won by Lehigh, 37-30, had to be run toward the scoreboard end of the field because the advertisements below the scoreboard provided the only light.

•The first athletic contest between the schools was a baseball game in 1869. The final score: 45-45.

Back then, apparently, there were ties in baseball — but not much pitching.

mike.hiserman@latimes.com

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