Saturday, November 12, 2005

Lehigh 40, Fordham 3 final

I think it's safe to look ahead to Lafayette now, right?

A complete performance. Lafayette will look at this game film and say that Lehigh is playing their best football (when their starters are in). Threatt and Rath with big days on offense, along with great drives against a pretty good defense. 517 yards of total offense - what a great effort!

Our "D" may have played their best game of the year, completely manhandling an overmatched Fordham offense. DL Chris Zambrano is a surprising name this week. I don't have the stats, but I believe he has a couple of sacks and has been all over Fordham QBs all day. He's been the linchpin of a smothering defensive effort - 128 total yards only on the day! The defensive line has put immense pressure on Fordham, and was successful in spades. Nothing but gushing praise for the defense. Bode's fumble return for a TD on the last play of the gmae was just the icing on the cake for them.

A bit of kicking problems in the special teams game, with a missed extra point and a missed FG (and a blocked punt), so there's something to work on this week (and something for coach Lembo to be mad about this week, too). Against Lafayette, they could have been fatal mistakes.

Overall, I am extremely pleased going into the 141st Lehigh/Lafayette meeting. It "Bodes" well for a Patriot League title. Tune in tomorrow for more thoughts.

Lehigh 27, Fordham 3, mid-2nd quarter

Hard to imagine a better start for Lehigh, aside from some kicking difficulties. Threatt and Rath are moving the ball seemingly at will, and the "D" is completely shutting down the Fordham offense.

If Threatt keeps this up, he may very well earn his nickname this week...

Predictions Of Other Games

Here's my weekly predictions of other games in the I-AA world this week. Isn't it great that I share with the world how awful I've been in picking I-AA games this year? I've been 66% on the year picking the I-AA Top 25, and even worse if you factor in Patriot League games. It's a good thing I'm not a betting man.

(No TV broadcast of today's game. You can listen to the game on AM 1230/1320 in the Lehigh Valley, or listen to the live feed at lehighsports.com - that's my plan.)

Patriot League:
Davidson at Georgetown. Georgetown is greatly improved, and should make their home finale a win the program should cherish. G'Town 30, Davidson 10.

Bucknell at Colgate. Colgate's still very much alive for the Patriot League title, and that alone should be enough to get the win. Colgate 27, Bucknell 7.

Lafayette at Holy Cross. Holy Cross had the title to lose against Colgate, and couldn't consummate a come-from-behind win against Colgate. Fordham then stomped a Steve Silva-less squad to put a dagger through their playoff hopes. Lafayette, on the other hand, will be looking to win and to put to power of prayer to the test for a defense of their title, or at least a co-championship. The trouble with the Crusaders is that they don't match up well with Lafayette. The trouble with the Leopards is that they haven't been able to finish teams off, though they've been very close. What does that mean? The Leopards stay alive in OT. Lafayette 23, HC 20, OT.

I-AA Top 25:
Iona at #1 New Hampshire. The Wildcats, just to make the game more even, should announce on the scoreboard the plays that they're going to call as they line up at the line of scrimmage, to make the game more enjoyable for the shivering fans in attendance. Maybe even announce over the intercom, "You make the call! Should the Wildcats select A) pass over the middle, B) QB rollout to the right, or 3) power run over the middle?" Even with this advantage, Iona wouldn't come withing sniffing distance. UNH 70, Iona 0.

#2 Montana at Sacramento St. Governor Schwarzenegger won't be the only big loser in Sacramento this weekend. Montana 45, Sac St. 10.

#3 Southern Illinois at #13 Northern Iowa. It's really do-or-die time for both the Salukis and Panthers this weekend. The winner of this game will take the Gateway title outright, basically, and if UNI manage the trick it will be with 2 league losses. Both teams are red-hot with big wins against league rivals Western Kentucky and Youngstown St. Who takes it? The key has got to be the home field advantage. The Panthers nab the title, barely. UNI 31, SIU 28, OT.

Florida A&M at #4 Hampton. I refuse to be taken into picking a Hampton upset for a third week in a row. The Pirates coast, yet still don't win impressively, infuriating AGS posters for weeks to come. Hampton 28, FAMU 3.

Western Carolina at #5 Appalachian St. The "Battle for the Old Mountain Jug" is a huge game for the Mountaineers, who could find themselves out of the running for the I-AA playoffs with a loss, while the Catamounts' miniscule playoff hopes would get a boost. Trouble is, App St. embarassingly lost the jug last year, and losing it at home in Boone doesn't seem like an option (as much as at-large teams may be wishing this to happen). App St. 38, WCU 3.

#6 UMass at Army (I-A). Normally, this would be a money game for the Minutemen, where they take their lumps and come back next week versus Hofstra. But this is a game with huge implications for UMass. If they get the win against the Knights, their at-large qualification for the I-AA playoffs is all but sealed in stone. If they lose, they're forced to win at Hofstra to qualify for the postseason. Army, after a rough start, has won their last two games, including a huge win versus Air Force, and seem to be hitting their stride. I think Army wins this game, and makes for a nervous week in Amherst. Army 27, UMass 17.

Wofford at #7 Furman. Hard to picture Furman losing a must-win game at home versus the Terriers. Could it happen? I'm thinking Furman cements their at-large credentials this week, leaving no doubt that they're in the field. With plenty to play for, the Paladins roll. Furman 38, Wofford 14.

#8 Texas St. at Stephen F. Austin. God, I hope I'm wrong about this game. Texas St. 48, SFA 24.

Morehead St. at #9 Georgia Southern. I won't be wrong about this tarring and feathering. GSU 56, MSU 7.

#10 Montana St. at #20 Eastern Washington. A Big Sky game which has lost much of its luster due to the Eagles' 4-loss plateau. The Eagles are out of the playoff hunt, while the Bobcats are fighting to stay alive in the race. I think Montana St. takes care of business here. MSU 34, EWU 20.

Southern Utah at #11 Cal Poly. The 'Stangs will have the gloves off, looking to impress the I-AA playoff committee fotr an at-large bid, so this game should be incredibly ugly. Cal Poly 49, SUU 15.

#14 Western Kentucky at #19 Youngstown St. It's almost as simple as "the winner is in", though the Hilltoppers would need to win at I-A Florida International next week to seal the deal. But the loser is definitely out, which makes this the biggest game of the week. Both have lost their last two games against Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois, and both seem like almost mirror images. Both have a tough I-A loss. Both managed to beat tough Illinois St. Western Kentucky may be a tiny bit more tested with a win against Eastern Kentucky to their credit as well. I think Youngstown gets exposed here, and it's the Hilltoppers that keep their hopes alive. WKU 34, YSU 17.

Mansfield (D-II) at #15 Coastal Carolina. Why are there so many bad matchups this time of year? I've heard the excuses of good teams backing out of games, but come on, Mansfield? CCU 43, Mansfield 6.

#16 Richmond at Towson. Okay. Raise your hand if you thought that this game would have ANY meaning for the A-10 title and playoff positioning in September. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Incredibly, the winner keeps alive in the at-large playoff chase (and Richmond has an outside chance at the outright A-10 title), and the loser pats themselves on the back and say, "nice year!" Get used to saying, "nationally-ranked Richmond" one more week. (I'm still not used to it.) Richmond 38, Towson 10.

South Dakota St. at #17 North Dakota St. This budding rivalry for the "Dakota Marker" promises to be a great rivalry, and a great game. The Bison should be able to bring home the marker this year, making the year a complete success for them. NDSU 34, SDSU 23.

Dartmouth at #18 Brown. Maybe RB Nick Hartigan should interview for his Rhodes Scholarship this week - the Bears won't even need him to wallop Dartmouth. Brown 38, Dartmouth 3.

Tennessee Tech at #21 Eastern Illinois. The Panthers continue the drive to their championship game versus Jacksonville St, and the Eagles should only be a speed bump. EIU 38, TTU 3.

Concordia (D-II) at #22 Grambling. Speaking of speed bumps... Grambling 70, Concordia 0.

Delaware at #24 William & Mary. Preseason, this was seen as a rematch of the second round of the I-AA playoffs last year. This year, it's the "Bowl of Tears". Bill & Mary should win this one at home. W&M 25, Delaware 15.

Indiana St. at #25 Illinois St. The Redbirds shouldn't be in the playoff discussion, but they'll hope a monster win against the 0-10 Sycamores will put them in the discussion. ISU 63, ISU 8.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Press Mash-Up; What You Didn't Read

As I finish up a particularly brutal week in my day job, I've finally able to get some time to put together my regular Friday feature in my press mash-up, where I take all the Lehigh press on the pregame and mash it up into the essentials. What's funny is, I'm finally realizing how few I-AA fans (and some I-A fans) have this option to do the press mashup. Fordham has no fewer than six national and local media outlets in New York City - not to mention their student newspaper - and not one of them bothered to write up the Fordham game. If I were a Fordham fan, my press mash-up would consist completely of out-of-town press. And Fordham is by no means alone in this.

Another great benefit I have as a Lehigh fan is to watch the Lehigh press conferences on-line. Although I'd love to get some free wings at Starter's Pub on a Wednesday afternoon, I can't be at the press conference live, so the internet broadcast is the next best thing. That allows me to be able to do something that even fewer fans get to do, and that's to be able to deliver a weekly segment of "What You Didn't Read" in this week's Lehigh press conference. This week, I bring you coach Lembo on Fordham:

"Their running game seems to be clicking. I've seen them on film, and in terms of being physical, running to the football, and showing you a multiplicity of fronts, I think they've played solid defense all year long. Their defensive line and their corners jump out at me as good, solid football players in this conference. This is a highly motivated team that plays hard."

Here's your press links and your mash-up:

Allentown Morning Call:
Lehigh Has Done a Good Job Handling Injuries Thus Far

Easton Express-Times:
Lehigh Focuses On Now

Brown & White:
Hawks Ready For Rumble In Bronx

"We're thankful for the help [of Fordham beating Holy Cross] the last couple weeks," [senior offensive tackle Tom] Toth said, "and it's great to be in the driver's seat. But that's it.

"We're going to be in a dogfight."

"If we don't win this week," cautioned Lembo, whose team is 7-2 and riding a four-game winning streak, "next week doesn't have anything near the significance it should.

“Each game is a one week season. We are fighting for survival. This is the most important game of the season at this point.”

“Every game is important and we are focused on one game at a time,” [sophomore QB Sedale] Threatt said. “All of our attention is on Fordham. If we don’t win against Fordham, there might not be the playoffs to look ahead to.”

"Sure, it'd be nice to look at Lafayette," Tom Toth said. "We simply can't do it. We had a setback earlier in the season and can't lose momentum. Coach (Pete) Lembo said after the Holy Cross loss the rest of the season was the playoffs. We played as though we've been in the playoffs for four weeks. We've still got a couple more."

"You've got to get beyond their record," Lembo said. "This is a team that certainly has the ability to beat us if we don't play well. This is a highly-motivated team.

“Our defense must contain Fordham’s outstanding running back, James Prydatko, and speedy quarterback, Derric Daniels.”

“With help from the coaches and Borda, I am progressing a lot,” Threat said. “But there is still room for improvement.”

“Mark [Borda] was much more experienced, so he could take advantage of some looks the defense would give him,” Lembo said. “In time, Sedale will be able to do the same kinds of things.”

"There's a new threat there," said Fordham coach Ed Foley, who suggested the Rams may use a spy to control Threatt. "You've got to keep an eye on him on defense with one of your players, particularly on third down."

“Having Marques and Eric lifts a big weight off my shoulders,” sophomore quarterback Sedale Threatt said. “They are a big part of Lehigh’s multitalented offense.”

"[Sedale's ability to run] makes my job a little easier," said Toth, a freshman roommate and good friend of Borda -- who remains a key part of the team despite recovering from a fractured right fibula -- by serving as an advisor to Threatt. "He's got the ability to take off whenever he wants."

“The seniors are the leaders of this team,” Threatt said. “We all try our hardest, for ourselves, but not too many guys get to go to the NFL like [Adam] Bergen, so we try to win it for departing seniors.”

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Preview of Lehigh/Fordham

It's another championship/playoff game this week for our beloved Mountain Hawks as we take on Fordham on the brand-new turf at Jack Coffey field. Win, and we keep on the march towards the Patriot League title and I-AA Playoff autobid. Lose, and all those dreams pretty much are over.

On the brand-new field turf at Jack Coffey field, Lehigh cannot afford a slip-up or a subpar game. In the Patriot League title chase, Colgate and Lafayette are eagerly waiting in the wings to see us stumble, hoping to snatch the title and a I-AA playoff berth from our hands.

In the past five years, I've learned a lot about the Lehigh squads in this game right here: the game before Lehigh/Lafayette. The teams that have been able to put the hammer down in this game usually goes on to beat Lafayette, while the teams who don't usually lose.

In 2000: Lehigh 51, Fordham 17; followed by Lehigh 31, Lafayette 17.

In 2002, Lehigh 24, Bucknell 0 (who was 2-9 that year); followed by Lafayette 14, Lehigh 7.

In 2003: Lehigh 45, Bucknell 9; followed by Lehigh 30, Lafayette 10.

In 2004, Lehigh 21, Fordham 14; followed by Lafayette 24, Lehigh 10.

I think these prove the point - the teams what have been able to step on the throats of their opponents the week before, have then gone on to step on Lafayette's throats the following week. At this point in the year, there's no point in keeping it in. You've got to play at your best.

For all their success, Lehigh has been only able to step on one team's throats all year - Bucknell. In every other game this year, including last week versus Georgetown, every game has been close at halftime. I think this team needs a game where they jump out early and put this game away quickly.

The big question is: Can they do that against Fordham?

Lehigh Injury Report
Senior QB Mark Borda (Ankle, Out)
Sophomore OL Mike Dodson (Groin, Doubtful)
Senior FB Greg Fay (Back, Questionable)
Freshman RB Matt McGowan (Ankle, Questionable)
Junior TE Pete Morelli (Shoulder, Questionable)
Junior FS Courtney Elder (Shoulder, Out)
Senior DE Owen Breininger (Shoulder, Doubtful)
Junior CB Brannan Thomas (Quad, Doubtful)
Junior DB Calvin LaMont (Groin, Questionable)
Junior DE Matt Mohler (Ankle, Questionable)

A long injury list, with some key players. Where to begin? Fay's injury may give freshman FB Adam Watson or sophomore John Piascik more looks, or may put Eric "TNT" Rath and Marques Thompson more in the backfield together. McGowan's presence will be missed on special teams. Breininger's and Thomas' probable absences also worry me. Sophomore Julian Ahye has gotten a lot of reps and will probably get the nod at CB, while the "D" line may be seeing some additional appearances by junior Erik Rakus and senior Chris Zambrano. Let's hope we can get through this game without anyone else getting banged up.

A Little About Fordham
It figures. Fordham starts the year at 0-7 and is in total disarray after losing to Duquesne, Columbia, and Georgetown. Then, in the span of two games, they not only win, but win in fairly impressive fashion against Holy Cross (24-20) and Bucknell (28-21). Figures it had to be right before they meet us that they rediscover a surging offense while developing the killer instinct to finish off games.

In Ed Foley's second year after Dave Clawson's departure to Richmond, the Rams have struggled. RB Jamaal Hunte left the team for personal reasons after he was supposed to be a key cog in the Rams' three-pronged rushing attack, and a team that was supposed to be competing for the Patriot League title is now playing the role of spoiler. Foley is 7-13 as coach of the Rams but have won their last two and are trying to build something for next season.

In their last two wins, you can't help but notice that they've won by establishing the run. The ingredients to their wins have been: solid defensive play, establishing the run, and applying the knockout punch in the 4th quarter. In both wins, the Rams went out to quick starts, so preventing that should be job #1 for the offense.

Offensive Breakdown
Fordham lines up in a pretty basic set on offense. I'd look, however, for Fordham's coaches to clean out their playbook for this game, so we may see some surprises on Saturday.

It will be up to junior QB Derric Daniels to pull the trigger for the Rams. Daniels is a very athletic mobile QB despite his lack of rushing yards, but only has a 50% completion percentage and generally has a low number of pass attempts per game. Throughout his career has shown flashes of brilliance - but mostly on gamedays has disappointed. Having said that, underestimating him is a mistake that shouldn't be made. He has athleticism and talent, and if you fall asleep you'll be in trouble - just ask Holy Cross, a victim of one of his 86 yard TD passes.

The real meat in the Fordham attack comes from senior RB James Prydatko, who is averaging over 100 yards a game on the ground. A possible first-team all-Patriot player, he's big, strong and quick and public enemy #1 for the Hawk defense. His backup, sophomore RB Jonte Coven, is a shorter, quicker change-of-pace back. He broke free last week for 61 yards and 2 TDs. Neither have been big options catching the ball out of the backfield this year, while the trio of fullbacks who have started for the Rams haven't been much more than blockers all year.

At wideout, senior WR Rashawn Haynes has good speed and is probably the Rams' top deep threat on the year with 226 yards and 2 TDs on the year. On the other side, the possession threat is junior WR Mike Melvin, who is leading Fordham with 345 yards receiving and 3 TDs. Big, strong senior TE James Cafarello is not only a terrific blocker and a possible all-Patriot selection, he's also a definite receiving threat with 153 yards and 1 TD in 4 games.

Fordham has had massive problems along the "O" line with an eye-popping 31 sacks allowed, and they are considered undersized compared to Lehigh's line. Senior OL Mike Bottiglieri is their best, strongest and largest lineman at 280 lbs, and he just returned from injury last week.

Defensive Breakdown
Fordham has an excellent defense that has not been blown out all year. Sure, Fordham has lost games, but it's not due to lack of defensive effort - most times they've been worn down due to lack of offensive production. They play a basic 4-3 and when they get leads from their offense, they've held on and won games.

On the defensive line, they have size, strength and talent, and their leader is senior DE Jay Edwards. With 8 sacks on the year, Edwards leads the Patriot League. Of note here are also two tough defensive tackles in senior DT Ed Gordon and junior DT Eduardo Boza, who are both 280 lbs and can be a major headache with north-south running.

When I picked freshman LB Louis Woodland to be a face to watch this year, I basically went with what I had heard from some Fordham buddies on some of the message boards. But in the linebacking corps he's been nothing but a revelation since Ryan Kleve was knocked out for the season - he's started the last 4 games, with 11 tackles last week. When combined with senior LB Marcus Taylor in the middle, you have a great bunch of tacklers with incredible athletic ability. This front seven will not be easy to neutralize.

The secondary is filled with seniors, but the best of the bunch may be junior FS Carl Garritano, with 2 forced fumbles and 1 interception on the year. They haven't really seen a team like Lehigh passing the ball, though, so it's hard to judge how they will react against the best receivers they have seen all year.

Special Teams Breakdown
Fordham boasts the best punter in the Patriot League in senior P Anthony DiFino, with nearly a 40 yard per punt average. They also boast one of the best kickers in junior PK Micah Culkey, who has a good leg and has 7 FGs on the year. The kickoff return squad consists of Prydatko and Coven, so you know they're going to be great there, while on punt returns there have been a trio of returners, none of whom have stood out.

Keys To The Game
1.Come out of the gate strong. More than any other game this year, I'd like to see Lehigh come out of the gate strong - not only to make us forget about the sluggish first half in the G'Town game, but also to keep from falling behind early. Falling behind early is exactly what happend with Holy Cross and Bucknell.
2.Aggressive offense. As talented as Fordham's defense is, I think that if we come out aggressively on offense and put them back on their heels we should be able to establish some great offense - and we'll need it to put the Rams away.
3.Spy Prydatko. You know he's so much a part of the offense, so it's worth it for the defense to spy Prydatko early and often.
4.3rd-and-long. Getting the Fordham offense in third-and-long situations should cause Lehigh to be able to punish Daniels with the pass rush.

Fearless Prediction
I think the Mountain Hawks are really, really aware that this is a big game, and won't suffer a "trap" against Fordham. I also think that we'll see a better effort against the Rams against Georgetown. With destiny in their hands, I see Lehigh pulling out something impressive this week. I'm hoping.

Lehigh 47, Fordham 17

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Press Mash-up; Polls and Playoffs; Lembo on Fordham

Lehigh stays steady in the national polls at #13, despite their win this weekend. Personally I am not a huge fan of either the Sports Network or ESPN/USA Today polls (for instance, exactly how is Coastal Carolina at #9 in both polls?). In the fan-based Any Given Saturday poll, on the other hand, Lehigh is at #11, which I feel is more accurate. In that poll, we're ranked in front of Coastal Carolina (#15) and Western Kentucky (#14).

Before I talk about the playoffs, let me preface everything by saying, yes, yes, I realize that the Mountain Hawks need to concentrate 100% on beating Fordham next week, and then beating "that other Patriot League team" on November 19th before worrying about the playoffs. If you saw the Lehigh Sports Magazine yesterday, you saw coach Lembo say this about Fordham:

"The Rams are a real scary team to me... Their record isn't overly impressive, [but] they're real good. They got incredible skill players, some of the best athletes in the conference, they won their last two games, including one versus Holy Cross who we know is a real solid football team... and every year, it seems like this one is a close football game.

I can add to this by saying Fordham came awfully close to knocking off Lehigh last year in Goodman. The Hawks won 21-14 after preserving the win with a huge interception on one late drive and stuffing a another late Fordham rally to seal the deal. The Rams' season would be made if they knocked us off in their house this Saturday. So, no, I'm taking nothing for granted.

But with the playoffs so close in sight, it's hard not to talk about playoff possibilities should our beloved Mountain Hawks beat Fordham and beat - that other team.

In the Patriot League, the road to the playoffs for Lehigh is clear. Win both our remaining games, and we're in, and at-large hopefuls Colgate and Lafayette are probably on the outside looking in. If we falter, Colgate is next in line, and if we falter and Colgate falters, then it's a mess with a 4-way tie for the championship. Bottom line is, if we lose, we're out of the running.

Could we host a playoff game? The possibility exists, especially after seeing 13,000 fans come out to see Lehigh play Georgetown last weekend. If the choice comes down to, say, Lehigh and Southern Illinois for a home playoff game, the fact that a Lehigh/Georgetown game gets 13,000 fans versus a Youngstown St./Southern Illinois game gets only 9,000 fans may make a huge difference to members of the I-AA committee. (Not to mention that the YSU/SIU game was a battle of nationally-ranked teams with playoff implications.)

To those who are not familiar with the I-AA playoff structure, the top four teams in the country are "seeded" 1-4. This is like a #1 seed in the NCAA Basketball tourney except that you basically have home-field advantage through 2 games (and possibly 3 games). Unless some really wild and wacky stuff happens, Lehigh would not be seeded in the playoffs. New Hampshire, Appalachian St., Hampton and Montana would appear to have those spots wrapped up.

That leaves 4 slots to host first-round games. With Georgia Southern beating Furman this past Saturday, and in effect booking their ticket for the I-AA playoffs, you can count on them hosting a home game. But after that, who? Possible teams with good I-AA attendance numbers include: Western Kentucky, Northern Iowa, Texas St., and maybe UMass and Richmond. Both WKU and NIU won't make it - as a matter of fact, every team I just listed is in danger of not only not hosting a game, but not even making the field.

So why not Lehigh hosting another I-AA playoff game? If we win our next two games, we have an excellent chance of being in the Top 10 by selection Sunday, and that's without any further craziness in a crazy year in I-AA.

OK, OK, no more playoff talk for all of this week. Instead, please read this week's press mash-up:

"This one reminded me a lot of last year's game down there," Lembo said, referring to a 49-18 win in Washington, DC.

Pete Lembo conceded it's part of human nature for young men who are coming off a huge, emotional win over a quality team on the road to let down at home the following week against a team that they've positively owned for four straight years.

But the Lehigh coach insisted, "I'll never give in to that."

He demands minimal mistakes from his team and Lehigh's effort was far from perfect against the Hoyas.

"We've shown glimpses, but still haven't put everything together in all three phases of the game for 60 minutes," he said. "Other coaches would be thrilled and go out and celebrate with some Buffalo wings tonight. That's not me. I feel good about the win, but not as good as I probably should.

"I'm disappointed with the amount of mistakes we made. If we make the same mistakes again, they're going to come back to haunt us."

In his first start at Goodman Stadium, quarterback Sedale Threatt lost the 'S' he seemed to have on his chest in wins at Bucknell and Colgate and finally resembled a sophomore making his third start.

"We just weren't finishing plays in the first half," said senior wide receiver Kevin Zeblium, who caught two TDs.

"We had too many mental mistakes and some poor timing," Lembo said. "But the nice thing about this team is that when one side of the ball is struggling, the other side has shown the ability to shoulder the burden."

"There wasn't a fire-and-brimestone speech at halftime," Lembo said. "These are bright kids. They knew we were struggling and had kept Georgetown hanging around. We set the tone right away in the second half."

Lembo, though, wasn't all that bothered by Eric Rath's fumble deep in Lehigh territory. "He was fighting for extra yards," Lembo said. "He's such a strong kid and he was spinning out of the pile. If he goes down five seconds earlier, we're looking at third down.

"He's got to be more cognizant of guys trying to strip the ball from him in those situations, but you can't fault the effort. We work very hard on ball security every week. Hopefully, that's the last one we see for the next two weeks."

Of sophomore RB Marques Thompson's 125 yard performance: "He got hot, he was on a roll. We kept giving him the ball. We felt good going in that some of the runs we had in the game plan suited Marques' ability well."

"The offensive line opened up holes, Coach Lembo had a great game plan, and we executed," Thompson said.

"Eric's running well right now," Thompson said recently. "I just have to let him do his thing. I kind of took the back seat a little this year. I'm comfortable with my role. That's basically my routine right now... We need to take advantage of every opportunity. That's how I play every game, every time I touch the ball."


"We haven't played our best football yet this season," Lembo said. "We have another opportunity again next week at Fordham.

"It is a one-game season for us from here on out," senior defensive captain Kaloma Cardwell said. "If we lose any games, it's meaningless."

Monday, November 07, 2005

Press Roundup; Game Balls

This picture, courtesy of the Morning Call, not surprisingly, shows us one of the recipients of this week's game balls.

Junior RB Marques Thompson got 127 all-purpose yards and did everything but get into the end zone. With a 40 yard and 30 yard scamper, he was a huge force in the running game this week. On the same note, I'm also going to give a big game ball to - who else - senior RB Eric "TNT" Rath for his 106 all-purpose yards and 1 TD. No pic of "TNT" this week, but he will get a game ball. Congratulations to all!

On defense, it was tough choosing players in what I considered a very solid team effort on defense. Ultimately, I felt senior FS Kaloma Cardwell and senior LB Matt Purdy deserved the nod with the big stops on 3rd down that spelled doom for the Hoyas offensively. The stat sheet may not reflect it - 12 tackles combined between the two of them - but when the game was on the line, it was them leading the way to a great defensive day. Congratulations!

Special teams game balls are going to be going to two freshmen. One won't be a surprise to regular readers of this blog: freshman P/K John Leo. 3 punts with a 44.3 average - all inside the 20- would probably be more than enough most weeks, but when you add a 43 yard FG, and a 47 yard FG that misses by about a foot - wow. The other freshman you may not have heard of, but I think you will in future years - freshman DB Brendan VanAckeren. The stat sheet says 2 special-teams tackles against Georgetown, but every week he is becoming an enforcer on special teams, including 3 versus Colgate 2 weeks ago. He's a big reason why our special teams unit is the best in the Patriot League. Congratulations!

Not much of a press roundup this week. We get the usual thorough coverage from the Morning Call (who have a very nice site update recently, by the way), but a lack of good coverage from the Hoya or the Washington Post leaves me with a much smaller press list than usual.

Allentown Morning Call:
Lehigh Downs Hoyas, Regains Share Of First
Lembo Won't Let Lehigh Relax Against Fordham

Easton Express-Times:
Thompson Gets His Chance

Brown & White:
Hawks Fly Past Hoyas Into First Place

Hoyasaxa.com:
Lehigh 46, Georgetown 14

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Quote of the day

I've been a bit sick and tired of posting pictures of senior RB Eric Rath all the time, so I decided instead to crib this from B. J. Shepard of the Brown & White instead. Some pretty good blocking going on here. Still undecided on the offensive game balls this week - we'll just have to wait until tomorrow to find out who gets them.

I was real busy posting my latest I-AA.org diary from this weekend, but I wasn't too busy to sum up the "Quote of the Day" from coach Lembo, courtesy of the Morning Call:

''Other coaches would be thrilled and go out and celebrate with some Buffalo wings tonight. That's not me. I feel good about the win, but not as good as I probably should.''


I love this quote! Dare I give coach Lembo his first nickname of the year? Pete "3rd Street" Lembo?

Tune in tomorrow for game balls.
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