BETHLEHEM – Jason Brown escaped a near sack and fired a dart to Terell Johnson for a 35-yard game-winning touchdown pass as St. Francis rallied past Lehigh 14-13 in Saturday’s season opener.
Brown’s first two career touchdown passes came after halftime during his first start.
Trailing 13-0 at the break, Brown threw a deep strike to his high school teammate EJ Jenkins for the Red Flash’s first score late in the third quarter, and zipped the winner to Johnson with 1:17 left to play.
Brown completed 22 of 37 passes for 293 yards, the most passing yards by a St. Francis quarterback since Bear Fenimore on Oct. 14, 2017 in his first collegiate start. Jenkins led all receivers with 125 yards on five catches. He caught Brown’s 75-yard TD pass over his left shoulder without breaking stride.
Redshirt junior Ra’Shaun Henry hauled in five passes for 68 yards and Johnson finished with three grabs for 48 yards.
Freshman Chris Wells led the St. Francis rushing attack with 46 yards on 16 carries.
Lehigh mounted a serious bid to regain the lead in the final minute. Starting at their own 4, the Mountain Hawks drove 74 yards before Austin Henning’s potential game-winning 40-yard field goal sailed wide as time expired. Henning had earlier connected from 21 and 37 yards.
Lehigh’s Sam McCloskey, a Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic graduate, scored the lone TD with a 56-yard fumble recovery after the St. Francis punter was unable to get a boot off.
St. Francis finished with advantages in total offense (361-281) and time of possession (32:57-27:03).
St. Francis’ Martin Foray Jr. paced the defense with five tackles.
The loss foiled the debut of coach Tom Gilmore, who would have been the 16th Lehigh coach to win his first game.
Lehigh won the turnover battle 3-1, turning the three St. Francis miscues into 10 points.