Saturday, October 08, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play

Predicitons of Other Games

Yes, indeed, there are other games this week. A packed Top 25 schedule especially, with a ton of great matchups.

Patriot League:
Duquesne at Georgetown. The Hoyas are sturggling a bit on offense, and it just seems like a bad matchup for them against the Dukes, who can put points up on the board. Duquesne 24, G'Town 14.
Fordham at Brown. Brown is incredibly strong, and the Rams seem in disarray. Hard to see a Fordham win here. Brown 33, Forhdam 12.
Columbia at Lafayette. Is Lafayette having problems scoring? Even if they do, they shouldn't struggle against the hapless Lions. If so, the Leopards are in deep trouble. Lafayette 19, Columbia 7.
Colgate at Princeton. Probably the most intriguing game in the Patriot aside from Lehigh/Holy Cross. First, which Colgate team is going to show up, the good (who beat nationally-ranked UMass) or the bad (who can't beat Dartmouth or mid-majors)? Second, who are these Princeton Tigers, and are they really as good as their 3-0 record would imply? I have a hunch that we'll see a "message game" from Colgate here, who needs the win more than the Tigers. Colgate 28, Princeton 7.
Bucknell at Penn. Bucknell finally found a QB - who knew he was DB Dante Ross, who was in their defensive backfield this entire time? Unfortunately, they're playing Penn, an excellent team who could be cracking the Top 20 in the near future. The Bison won't be able to make magic this week. Penn 31, Bucknell 10.

Top 25:
#1 New Hampshire at #18 William & Mary. The Wildcats have cruised every week, and will be looking to avenge last year's 9-7 loss. The Tribe are just looking to stay relevant and in the Top 25. I am not foolish enough to pick against the Wildcats here. UNH 44, W&M 17.
#2 Western Kentucky at Illinois St. Upset special alert! A tough Redbirds squad, who absolutely need the win to stay in the Gateway hunt, should give the Hilltoppers (who don't have an impressive win to this point) all they can handle - and also get the "W". ISU 21, WKU 17.
#3 Southern Illinois at Western Illinois. Although the Salukis are overrated at #3, the Leathernecks don't have enough firepower to pull off the upset. SIU 30, WIU 13.
#4 Northern Iowa at Missouri St. I'm liking the Panthers more and more in the Gateway, and hoepfully they will go out this week and prove it again. NIU 49, MSU 12.
Maine at #5 James Madison. A weak Maine team versus the defending national champs? At home? How can this be anything but a laugher? JMU 37, Maine 7.
#6 Montana at Idaho St. A weak and overrated Montana, starting a frosh QB, is ripe for the pickin' and darling Idaho St. are just the team to knock them off hard, playing in Pocatello on the turf. ISU 31, Montana 7.
#13 Appalachian St at #7 Furman. The most intriguing game on this week's schedule. Furman (4-1, 0-1 Conf) pretty much is in a must-win situation to be in the SoCon title hunt. App St. (3-1, 1-0 Conf) has beaten three good teams and is looking solid in the early going (only losing to I-A Kansas) but will also lose to I-A LSU later this year, so they also don't have any breathing room. In a rivalry with crazy finishes, with so much at stake look for another, with a vastly-improved Mountaineer side taking the cake. App St. 29, Furman 28.
#9 North Dakota St. at #8 Cal Poly. The Bison, a I-AA transitional school that is ineligible for the playoffs, is a team which any I-AA playoff bubble team will be rooting for here. A Bison "upset" of the Aggies could posibly eliminate Cal Poly from the Great West title chase, never mind the postseason chase. I think the 'Stangs, though, are too tough at home, and are focused on making up for last year's I-AA playoff snub. 'Stangs win a close one. Cal Poly 27, NDSU 24.
#11 Eastern Washington at Northern Arizona. The Eagles shouldn't have a problem scoring points here. EWU 56, NAU 24.
#12 Montana St. at Weber St. If Lulay doesn't have his annual "meltdown game" here, watch out Big Sky. I don't think he will. MSU 27, WSU 18.
#14 Hampton at Gardner-Webb. Upset special - an uninspiring Hampton team, on the road, get beaten by the Runnin' Bulldogs. Gardner-Webb is a good team that still houses Big South title aspirations, and they will be eager to get a quality win, especially at home. G-W 38, Hampton 21.
Hofstra at #15 Delaware. An interesting game that could end up being an elimination game for the loser, with a 0-2 league record looming for them. Gotta go with Delaware at home here, and undoubtedly fired up after last week's Towson shocker. Delaware 35, Hofstra 17.
#16 Texas St. at Southeastern Louisiana. Finally, the Southland is gearing up for some games after so much hurrincane-related cancellations. All I've really leared about the Southland is that home field advantage really matters, and the SeLa Lions should be looking to make a statement here against the current Southland frontrunner. Lions in an old-fashioned shootout. SeLa 45, Texas St. 28.
Northeastern at #17 UMass. A bad matchup for the Huskies, and the Minutemen's defense should be able to shut them down. UMass 16, N'Eastern 0.
#19 Harvard at Cornell. Bounceback time for the Crimson against a young Cornell squad. Harvard 30, Cornell 3.
#20 UC-Davis at South Dakota St. Do the Jackrabbits have the hardest schedule in I-AA? 4 straight nationally-ranked I-AA teams in 4 weeks? The Aggies are on one of those rolls, and South Dakota St. ain't going to stop it now. UCD 26, SDSU 3
#21 Northwestern St. at #25 Sam Houston St. The winner could be the team to beat in teh Southland; the loser could have an uphill struggle for the playoffs. I like the Bearkats here at home the same way I like *any* Southland team playing at home. SHSU 35, N'Western St. 18.
#22 Youngstown St. at Indiana St. Up-and-comer Youngstown St. should - should - handle the Sycamores. YSU 30, ISU 10.
Western Carolina at #24 Georgia Southern. I don't think Georgia Southern is all that; however, the Catamounts right now couldn't score against Stateboro High School either. Look for a defensive struggle, with the Eagles on top. GSU 17, WCU 7.

See you at the game. I will attempt to audioblog during the game, but maybe only at halftime and after the game since I'll be working that day for I-AA.org.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Press Roundup; Pundits & Fans Pick Lehigh (again)

Although the forecast calls for more than an inch of rain, I'll be at Goodman tomorrow finding out of what mettle diehard Lehigh and Holy Cross fans are made. If the weatherman is right, there's a 90% chance the fair-weather fans will be staying at home.

Those who will be doing the right thing by driving out to Goodman will see a vital game in the Patriot League race. Holy Cross would like nothing better than to escape Goodman drenched with a surprise victory. Lehigh needs to make a statement that the road to the Patriot League title goes through Goodman.

However you see this one - it won't be one to miss.

Pundits & Fans Pick the Game
Although most predictions came before the weather forecast, Matt Dougherty's pick of a 38-24 Lehigh win is on-par with every game prediction I have seen. Lehigh getting anywhere from 34 to 38 points and Holy Cross getting anywhere from 21 to 24 points. Of course, what that means is the game will probably confound all expectations and be a 12-0 Lehigh win.

Press Roundup
A very quick press roundup. For the local papers, all Owen Breninger, all the time. As for Worcester, they made me pay .60 cents in order to see their article. The sacrifices I make for Lehigh football!

Allentown Morning Call:
Lehigh's Breninger Happy To Be On Defense
Easton Express-Times:
Lehigh Shifts Into High Gear For Patriot League
Brown & White:
#10 Hawks Look To Defeat Crusaders
Worcester Telegram & Gazette:
Crusher Casey Sparks 'Saders (reg'n required)

And your press digest:

Mountain Hawks coach Pete Lembo said, "We've got a very, very big challenge this week. There's an understanding that this game has a bigger impact than any other on our hopes for the postseason. The easiest way for us to get there is to win our league."

"Absolutely," said defensive end Matt Mohler, who shares the team lead of 3( sacks with Royce Morgan. "They have receivers who don't drop balls, they have a running back who's always falling forward, they have a quarterback who makes great reads. Getting pressure on (O'Neil) is very important. That's definitely a key to the game getting him a little frustrated."

Senior wide receiver Gerran "G" Walker said he agrees with Lembo. “Every game on our schedule is a must-win game,” Walker said. “Now that we’re beginning Patriot League play, we can’t slip up in any of these games if we wish to participate in the I-AA playoffs this year.”

"Whether it's Holy Cross or whether it's Delaware or VMI, it really doesn't matter. I approach every week the same," Mohler said. "Every game's the same for us. If we play perfect football, we can be a very darned good team."

"That's one of the big things we're looking forward to this week getting pressure on O'Neil," Breininger said. "It's an important game ... It's one we need if we want to win the league championship. Other than the last quarter of that Delaware game, things have been going well. I couldn't ask for more."

Lembo said he is not looking at this game as an easy win. "Holy Cross is a much improved football team, perhaps more so than any other team on our schedule,” Lembo said. “They are playing with confidence and have been tested against good teams so far this year. Even though Holy Cross has not beaten us since 1997, this is a new year, and they will throw everything they have at us.”

That league schedule opens for Lehigh with a threat from an old assistant, yet it's just one of many the Mountain Hawks welcome. [Holy Cross Head Coach Tom] Gilmore, the defensive coordinator at Lehigh from 2000-03, said the Mountain Hawks’ receiving corps, led by Gerran Walker, Kevin Zebluim and Lee Thomas, are the most talented group HC will play this year. Senior quarterback Mark Borda has already thrown for 1,186 yards.

“We’re playing with a different kind of confidence this season,” said [senior CB Casey] Gough, who heads a secondary that also includes senior corner Tyler Nugent and sophomore safeties Kent Flanders and Obi Green. “Our safeties are calling the
plays with a lot more confidence. With me, last year playing for the first time, there was an insecurity on the field. Now with game experience, we’re a much more tight-knit group.”

“I thought we played the best two teams (Harvard and Delaware) on our schedule already,” Gilmore said. “Now I’m not so sure.”

In last week’s 22-19 win at Yale, Gough was all over the place with a career-high 11 tackles, an interception, a safety and a blocked PAT. Gough was named the Division I-AA National Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.

“That game that Casey had on Saturday was just ridiculous,” Gilmore said.

Gough had one other big play that didn’t show up on the stat sheet. Freshman defensive tackle Brenton Good was credited with the tackle of Yale running back Mike McLeod on a critical fourth-and-1 deep in HC territory in the third quarter, but it was Gough who stopped the play.

“The lead blocker, a fullback, is coming and boom, Casey knocks the kid two yards back into the running back,” Gilmore said. “He wasn’t on a blitz, but he read the play. You see the Yale player being knocked right into the running back. That was Casey Gough.”

Gough expects to match up with the 5-10, 185-pound Walker, who’s averaging 13.9 yards a catch and has scored three TDs.

“They are extremely athletic,” Gough said. “It will definitely be our biggest challenge and my biggest challenge.”

Of Gilmore, Breninger said "He's a very intense coach... He expects a lot from his players. I know from when he was here, he's going to have those guys ready to play. We've got to be ready to match their intensity... [H]e'll have them fired up and believing that they're the best team out there, and we just have to show them that they're not."

"For me, it will be a little more of an emotional game because of all the people at Lehigh," Gilmore said. "I really enjoyed the people at Lehigh and in the Lehigh Valley. I have a lot of fond memories of Lehigh. In life, sometimes you have to make some professional decisions that you feel are best for you."

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Preview of Holy Cross/Lehigh

This weekend brings us the first league game of the year for Lehigh, and it also brings up the biggest surprise of this 2005 season in the Patriot League. As you will see, the Crusaders are a more dangerous team than in years past, as evidenced by their 3-2 record, with their only losses coming to nationally-ranked Harvard and Delaware.

This weekend's tilt will be televised live on Service Electric 2 (in the Lehigh Valley), Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh, and Fox College Sports Pacific (on your local cable or satellite TV provider). In the Lehigh Valley, as always, the game will be also carried on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320. Oh, yeah, and I'll be at the game covering it for I-AA.org, along with possibly even audblogging a little at the game.

Lehigh Injury Report
Junior FS Courtney Elder (Shoulder, Out)
Sophomore DB Daynin Blake (Hip, Questionable)
Junior LB Travis Stinson (Shoulder, Questionable)

This is the exact same list as last week, and the same folks will be stepping in should anyone be not ready to go -- sophomore DB Erine Moore and junior LB Chris LaMont. Very encouraging to see so few injured kids at this point in the year. Let's hope once Saturday is done it will stay that way.

A Little About Holy Cross
Holy Cross came into this year, like the last few years, with few expectations for football. Since the good old days when Holy Cross was a consistent national powerhouse, to the good not-so-old days when players like Gordie Lockbaum and Gil Fennerty wore the purple-and-white, since joining the Patriot League Holy Cross had chosen primarily to focus on maintaning a world-beating quality basketball team. As a result, their football team had been in steady decline since the early 1990s.

Two Decembers ago, then-Lehigh defensive coordinator Tom Gilmore quickly and suddenly left the Lehigh coaching staff and took on the job of rebuilding the Crusader football program essentially from scratch. Adding insult to the injury of Gilmore hightailing to Holy Cross in the middle of recruiting season, Gilmore also convinced defensive backs coach Issac Collins to follow him in his rebuilding effort - after Collins had already been promoted to defensive coordinator. (Collins is now on Delaware's coaching staff.) As a result of this action, I had called last year's Lehigh/Holy Cross game the "Benedict Arnold Bowl".

It's not clear if there are still feelings of ill will versus Lembo and Gilmore, but one thing for sure is that Gilmore appears to have made strides in turning this football team around and teaching them how to win games. A cynic might say that the Crusader wins were against Sacred Heart, Georgetown, and Yale, none of whom have a winning record. Yet against both ranked opponents Holy Cross held leads in the 3rd quarter in both games. This is a team that is learning how to win, and have had five straight games this year where they can leave with their heads held high.

Clearly, this ain't the same team that went 3-8 last year. Furthermore, this is a team that will be playing their "Super Bowl" this weekend. Pull off the upset, and all of a sudden they are a team that could (incredibly) be in charge of the Patriot League race. Gilmore should have his team ready to play at their best, and the Mountain Hawks will have to play their best to win.

Offensive Breakdown
Holy Cross has 11 returning offensive starters, which means the Crusaders have an experience and discipline. What also sticks out is the fact that the offense only has two giveaways on the year, an incredible statistic after 5 games. They are also averaging 34 points per game as well, so our defense could get yet another big test this week. It will take a disciplined team effort to stop this balanced grinding offense.

Start with senior QB John O'Neill, who is averaging 181 yards passing a game to go with his 7 TDs on the year. This year he appears to be more of a pocket passer, but in years past he has been a very mobile QB, so his running lanes also have to be contained if you hope to stop him. He throws short stuff mostly to complement the running game, but you can't ignore the long bomb either.

The backfield boasts 2 true running threats - senior RB Steve Silva and senior FB Gideon Akande. Silva is the slasher, Akande is the straight-ahead runner, and between the two of them they average more than 4.5 yards a carry and have scored 9 TDs. Silva gets the bulk of the rushes and is on pace to get 1,000 yards rushing this year. Silva is also a huge receiving threat as well, with 28 receptions, 200 yards receiving and 1 TD this year. But I wouldn't forget Akande either, who's on pace to get 400 yards rushing by himself. Overall, the backs are a huge part of this offense.

The wideouts feature senior wideout Sean Gruber. He still is the meat and potatoes of the receiving corps with 307 yards receiving this year and 4 TDs. On the other side is senior Bob Turkovich, with 208 yards and 2 TDs. Unlike last year, when O'Neill does throw to a wideout it's more often than not to Turkovich rather than Gruber, but Gruber still has the speed to make the big play.

The big boy on the experienced line is senior RT Justin LaGrenade at 6'1 and 296 lbs, and his line is doing an outstanding job thus far. QB O'Neill's only been sacked 6 times, and the rushing game is averaging 181 yards a game, so this group has been winning trench battles.

Defensive Breakdown
Gilmore plays a base 3-4 but shows different looks on defense. The strength of the defense is a strong linebacking unit and an up-and-coming secondary, but the front three tend to get a bit lost in the shuffle. They have struggled against the better backs they have faced (Delaware's Omar Cuff: 177 yards; Harvard's Clifton Dawson: 153 yards), but it's debatable if Lehigh has a true "marquee back" that can exploit this the same way Delaware and Harvard did.

Probably their best defensive lineman is junior DT Matt Lemire, with 18 tackles on the year and 1 sack. Their front three, especially the ends, haven't been getting to the QB nearly enough this year, having averaged only 5 sacks this year. If the "O" line can get the better of this trench battle, there may be yards there between the tackles.

Junior ILB Dan Adams is the class of the linebacking unit, with 45 tackles and 1 sack to his credit this year. Not too far behind is junior OLB Chris Nielsen with 31 tackles and 1 sack. The linebacking unit is solid and is very deft at causing turnovers, so ball protection will be a must.

Junior CB Casey Gough is the pride of the secondary, with 3 interceptions, 1 blocked kick and 1 safety (recorded last week versus Yale) to his credit. He and senior CB Tyler Nugent make a talented set of corners who have gotten a lot of picks and seem to be good cover guys.

Special Teams Breakdown
Junior PK Mike DeSantis hasn't been tested this year from long-range, but last year he did boot a 41 yard FG. Like last year, the Crusader punting game has not been pretty, with junior P Ryan McManaway averaging under 35 yards a punt. RB Steve Silva has also been a monster returning punts and kicks, with 450 yards and a kickoff return for TD, so special teams will need to be playing their best to contain him.

Keys to the game
1.Taking care of the ball! If only I could repeat this, say, 10 times as the key to this game. Holy Cross has proven they take care of the ball well, and that's how they win games and keep games close. Against VMI and Harvard we survived our own miscues by creating some turnovers of our own - we clearly won't have that luxury against Holy Cross. Protect that ball, it will be essential for the win!
2.Greg Fay's Emergence? As well as our normal gameplan, I could see going after the Crusader front seven through the tackles, with FB Greg Fay as either a lead blocker or a lead runner. Softening them up could lead to a big day rushing the ball.
3.Sideline to sideline. RB Silva is a great slashing back, so it would pay to pursue well on the sides and force Holy Cross to get tough yards up the middle, just like we ultimately did versus Harvard. Containing Silva could contain the engine that makes Holy Cross go.
4.Special teams. On kicking units, Silva is such a strong player that good tackling, long kicks (kicking away from Silva as well), and containment is a must. On return units, the extra yardage, just like in the Harvard game, may make the difference between a "W" and a "L".

Fearless Prediction
I ain't going up to this game for nothing. Holy Cross is a good team and will show it on Saturday. I think they will hang around with us for a half, and then Lehigh's depth and talent will wear them down. This one won't be easy, but I do see a big league win.
Lehigh 34, Holy Cross 21

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

New Poll; Garner's Back; Game Balls; My Picks

Lots to cover. First of all, a brand-spankin' new poll on your right. Vote away.

Second of all, the guy who greatly inspired my I-AA diary column on I-AA.org... Scott Garner... is back. Best of all, he chastises me for putting Georgia Southern at #8 in the "Top Fans of I-AA" list! (I'm a bit disappointed that he didn't put up a spirited defense of "Gus", Georgia Southern's mascot.)

Game Balls
It was awfully tough to give the game balls out since the win seemed to be a complete team effort in all phases. Nonetheless, your intrepid reporter did manage to suffer through and pick worthy candidates for this honor.

On offense, I'm going to give it to the senior WR Kevin Zebluim. His twisting catch when Lehigh was down 17-14 (which should have been called a TD) was the play of the game, as after Eric "TNT" Rath punched the ball in on the next play, Lehigh went ahead 24-17 and would never reliquish the lead. The next TD drive was all Borda and Zebluim as he would get 29 yards (and this time, the TD). It was tempting to give it to Borda, or "TNT" Rath, or even senior WR Winfred Porter for his 91 yard TD scamper. But Zebluim made the diference when it counted, and he gets my game ball.

On defense, for me it's senior LB Anthony "Graz" Graziani. It was awful tempting to give it to senior DT Royce Morgan (with 7 tackes and 1 1/2 sacks), or junior SS Julian Austin (12 tackles and 1 INT, and he is impressing me every week). But watching the game on TV, "Graz" just had presence throughout the entire game. He was credited with "only" 6 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks, and 2 huge interceptions - one to squash an important Crimson 1st quarter drive, and the other to set up Zebluim's score to make it a 3-score game. But every play Crimson players appeared to be hearing his footsteps. He is clearly the leader out there of a superb team defense, and he gets the not this week as a result.

Special teams I'll give 3 nods, since I can't decide who deserves it more. Game balls for senior WR Gregg Petrosky, senior WR Gerran "G" Walker, and freshman P John Leo. It was very hard to judge this, since both Petrosky and "G" had electrifying returns that simply wore down the Crimson, combining for 153 return yards. But Leo's 3 punts were just as important, making the field position battle an uphill one for Harvard. You could almost give a game ball to the entire special teams unit for their inspired play, but this week, it's this trio that will get the nods. Congratulations!

My Weekend Picks
Finally, a 4-1 in Patriot play and an 11-6 in the Top 25 put me at a decidedly mediocre 15-7 overall. I am kicking myself big-time over two of the Top 25 losses that I didn't have the courage to pick. See below.

Really right: Lehigh 49, Harvard 24. Most were taking Lehigh in a nail-biter, but I got the margin of victory perfect in this clash. My prediction was Lehigh 35, Harvard 10 - a 25 point win. Perfect.

Should have been right: (tie) The Citadel 17, Western Carolina 7; Chattanooga 25, Wofford 13. On both of these freakin' games I said I wanted desperately to take 2 weak SoCon teams to upset 2 overrated SoCon teams. In *both* I didn't have the courage. Had I had some guts, that would have put me at 13-4 and sitting pretty.

Was I ever wrong!: New Hampshire 45, Villanova 17. Now I know 'Nova's a pretty good team. I knew that already. What I didn't know is how dominating UNH has been and how tough they will be to dislodge from the top spot. I hope the I-AA playoff committee likes games up in Durham, NH in little Cowell Stadium in December, because it's awfully hard to see who's going to knock them out.

Tomorrow: Your Lehigh/Holy Cross preview. I will be at the game this weekend doing a I-AA diary as well for I-AA>org, for those who don't know!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

My Take; Press Roundup

The picture here (courtesy of Jon Chase of WG Sports Photos) is pretty representative of how the game went - no matter what Harvard tried to throw at us, they simply couldn't stop us when it counted. Lehigh is playing better going into league play, and it's now when the real season begins, when we play our all-important league games in order to win a Patriot League title and possibly get a I-AA playoff berth.

Harvard turned over the ball a lot, and made some mistakes, and we capitalized in a big way. Of course we can't count on teams every week giving us +4 giveaways to give us the victory. But I was very encouraged how every player, to a man, really brought up the level of their play this week in periods during the game. They showed flashes of the sort of team that they can be. A team with an offense that can be awfully tough to stop. A team with an aggressive, hard-hitting defense. Speed on special teams, getting huge chunks of yardage while pinning Harvard deep on many occasions. There were mistakes, and things that needed correction. But the team that left the field this weekend for certain has the ability to win the Patriot League, and even has the potential to host a few games in the I-AA playoffs, and maybe even... - if they can keep the same level of skill and concentration in the remainder of the season.

Next week we play our league opener against a much-improved Holy Cross Crusader team who dominated Yale 22-19 in the Yale Bowl last weekend. At 2-2, their only losses were to Harvard and Delaware, and they are not the easy out they used to be. It's going to be a big game, and I will be there as a part of I-AA.org. I can't wait!

Here's a quick press roundup. You're going to love these headlines! Lembo and the troops seem like they're really enjoying this win, as well they should!

(Note: I'm going to try to put these together on Sundays now, even though I really like to include Keith Groller's Monday note on Lehigh as well. More important to get the news roundup out there first, I figure.)

Allentown Morning Call:
Lehigh Puts An End To Harvard's Streak
Easton Express-Times:
Borda, Lehigh Soar In Victory
Brown & White:
Hawks Defeat #15 Harvard
Boston Globe:
Crimson Run Out Of Steam In Rout

Lehigh's offense was unstoppable as it stomped Harvard University 49-24.

The Mountain Hawks grabbed a 14-0 ... [b]ut Harvard shifted the momentum by halftime, picking off Borda three times and pulling within 14-10 on quarterback Liam O'Hagan's 22-yard touchdown run and a 36-yard field goal by Matt Schindel. [S]aid Lehigh coach Pete Lembo, "He's one of the best quarterbacks we will face this year, maybe one of the best in the Northeast. It scares me to think we're going to have to face him for two more years."

Borda wasn't thinking about records at halftime... [h]e threw two picks in the second quarter, one leading to a field goal, allowing the Crimson to get back within 14-10.

Only Graziani's interception in the end zone early in the second quarter kept Lehigh from really crawling into a hole.

"When they're in scoring position and we get a turnover, obviously it's a big play," Graziani said. "That's a huge play."

"The guys elected me to be a leader," said Borda, who wound up hitting 25 of his 39 total passes for 347 yards and two touchdown throws. "I take that real seriously, on the field as well as off the field.

"I was talking to myself at halftime, saying I had to pick it up... It just means more to me when the guys look at me in the huddle, and I'm struggling, and I can't let them see any doubt. I expected to be a difference in the game, and it didn't happen. So, I had to regain my confidence."

"I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who talks to himself," cracked Lehigh coach Pete Lembo, whose team improved to 3-1 with its second straight win. "I was pleased with the perseverance. I was pleased that nobody put their heads down, particularly Mark Borda. We made a decision as a coaching staff that we were going to be aggressive in the second half, even though he (Borda) didn't get off to a good start. He's just got such outstanding character and he's got such a humble approach and even keel to him. We continue to have a lot of confidence in him and believe in him."

"Mark and I just seemed to be on the same page the whole second half," said Zebluim, who caught five passes for 87 yards and a TD after halftime.

With the defense shortening the field with takeaways, the offense became unstoppable. And when Harvard ended the 28-0 run with its own TD, Lehigh answered again.

"The next goal was to do a great job with ball security," said Harvard coach Tim Murphy, discussing the original plan of attack for his 2-1 team. "We failed miserably."

By day's end, Lehigh had answered plenty of questions about itself.

"I'm pleased with how we stayed after them in the second half," Lembo said. "We talked all week about how Harvard was a team that started slow but finished strong. That's a problem we had the last few weeks. So I was glad we were able to continue to score and match theirs."

Clifton Dawson, the Crimson's star running back who suffered a bruised hip in last week's overtime win against Brown, came in averaging 171 rushing yards on the young season but could muster just 59.

"Coming in, all week long, we knew if we shut down Dawson, that's a big part of that offense," Graziani said. "I don't know if he was a little banged-up or what, but it was nice to go out there and actually shut down the run."

Lembo wasn't exactly doing cartwheels after one of the best wins in his tenure. But he admitted the ride home would be better than the one into New England on Friday.

"It's a good win and we have a tendency not to enjoy these wins as much as we should, and that's my fault as much as anybody," he said. "So we're going to enjoy this for 24 hours and then start getting ready for Holy Cross."

Murphy shouldered much of the blame for the loss. Asked for an explanation, he said, "Explanations are excuses, and there are no excuses for today."

"I didn't do a very good job coaching today," said Murphy, "and that and the turnovers took a relatively competitive game and turned it into a rout."
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