Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lehigh 44, Colgate 14, Final

(Photo Credit: Kevin Mingora/The Morning Call)

When head coach Andy Coen was asked where the win this weekend ranks with him - excluding the wins against Lafayette in "The Rivalry", of course - a smile escaped.

Coen wasn't the only smiling Mountain Hawk fan this afternoon, either.

In a game that was billed as one that would probably be a dogfight until the very end, Lehigh jumped out to a 31-0 lead and never really looked back in a 44-14 stomping.

The Maroon Marauders that were supposed to run all over Lehigh's "bend but don't break" defense with the top rusher in FCS, RB Nate Eachus, didn't. The Lehigh offense, that was supposed to struggle against a top-flight team, didn't. This Lehigh team, which was supposed to lose the close games against the great opponents, didn't.

It had to be the most satisfying non-Lafayette win in coach Coen's career. (more)

Coach Coen and special teams coach R.J. Ryan knew something was not quite right with the Colgate side about a half an hour before gametime as Colgate was going through pregame warmups.

"Coach Ryan turned to me and said, 'Who's their quarterback out there?'", noting that QB Greg Sullivan, the preseason Patriot League Player of the Year, wasn't throwing the ball, and backup QB Scott Rizzo was instead.

Sullivan's absence - as well as WR Doug Rosnick's, also unavailable due to injury - were two major surprises to emerge from the Colgate bus this afternoon. Without any pregame injury report from Colgate, or Colgate media day, and not a thing mentioned in Colgate's pregame notes, there was no word to anybody in the press box or anywhere else that key players could be missing.

But that didn't change much as to how Lehigh's defense was going to work on Colgate's attack.

"We had a plan in which we were accounting for both the quarterback and tailback," Coen said, "Sullivan is a magician at their game, and not having him slowed them down a little. But I still thought our guys played an outstanding, inspired game."

The defense did play an inspired game for sure.  For starters, they held Eachus, Mr. Tailback extraordinare, to 124 yards and 0 TDs.  They held the Raiders to 215 yards rushing - seventy yards below their average.  They held Colgate to 7 of 21 on 3rd and 4th down - and even on their successful conversions, like a 4th-and-inches from their own 30 that Eachus made, he got stood up strong by junior LB Mike Groome (15 tackles) and punished by a brown swarm of Lehigh defenders.

They racked up 11 tackles for loss, including 4 sacks, against the normally run-happy Raiders. Senior DE Ben Flizack was a force up front for the Mountain Hawks in particular, with 6 tackles and 1 1/2 of those sacks.

"The plan was to get Rizzo out of his comfort zone a little bit," Flizack said. "The 'D' line stepped up to fill the gaps on the run. We pride ourselves on stopping the run. If we stopped the run, we felt we had a pretty good chance of winning this game. Once we did that, and forced them to pass, we thought we had a pretty good chance of winning."

The biggest tackle behind the line of scrimmage on the afternoon, however, may not have registered on the stat sheet.

Midway through the second quarter, senior LB Al Pierce absolutely crushed Rizzo as he tossed the ball to his wideout - which ended up underthrown and into the hands of senior CB Jarard "Main Man" Cribbs, with nothing but green ahead of him. His pick six made the score Lehigh 24, Colgate 0, and really seemed to deflate the 'Gate.

“It’s a great feeling to know that you’re playing your technique,” Cribbs said. “He can throw you one and you’ve got to capitalize off of it. That’s what our defense is about. Once the situation arises, you’ve got to win a play and step up if you want to make plays and win championships.”

*****

As fantastic as the defense played - only allowing two touchdowns, one after a very short kickoff and another after a muffed punt - it was the offense's performance, against Colgate's healthy defense, what really stood out.

Junior QB Chris Lum started the game with four straight completions, ending with his first TD of the game, a 16 yard toss across the grain to freshman FB Sean Farrell that was caught at about the 8 - and Farrell, building a head of steam, locomotived to the pylon and tagged it with the football.

On the ensuing drive Lum suffered three incompletions.

He would only have two more incompletions the entire game.

Lum would finish with by far the best game of his career, going 17-for-22 passing for 310 yards and two TDs, while adding 6 yards rushing and a 1 yard sneak for one of the six Lehigh TDs on the afternoon.

Sophomore WR Ryan Spadola was still Lum's favorite target, grabbing 6 catches for 96 yards, but senior WR Craig "Braveheart" Zurn, with 5 catches and 107 yards, left it all out there on senior day to lead the Mountain Hawks in receiving yardage. Seven different Lehigh players caught passes with junior WR Jake Drwal and senior TE Alex Wojdowski getting touchdown grabs. Sophomore QB Michael Colvin connected with "Wojdo" on a faked Wildcat run, then lofting a perfect rainbow pass to him in the end zone without a defender in sight.

Lum credited a strong game from his offensive line - who didn't allow a sack all day, and gave him lots of time to throw all afternoon - and his sure-handed receivers.

"All around, I think we were clicking very well," Lum said.  "I always felt we were capable of doing what we did today.  We had shown flashes before, but we were inconsistent. Today, we just did it on almost every single drive. It was a lot of fun."

It would have been an impressive surgical dissection of any defense, but to the seniors possibly playing their last-ever home football game, what made it especially memorable is that it came against Colgate.

"This is my first time beating Colgate since I've been here," Cribbs said after the game. "How we put it together, the defense was giving the ball to the offense, everything's clicking, and we're all working as one cohesive unit, it really feels great."

"I really enjoyed today, I ain't gonna lie," Coen said, just barely hiding that smile. "Because our seniors hadn't beaten Colgate. It's the best win... until, hopefully, next week. They haven't beaten Holy Cross, either."

13 comments :

mtnhawk53 said...

Another fantastic coaching job by the staff and perfect execution by the players. I notice the expected absence of posters here which just proves that 90% of those that read here are detractors. Im the one that expected 12,000 ha, I guess the engineer is onto something with regards to culture. The amount of fans in the stands is a head scratcher and shameful. The LU student body is a joke. I feel for the players but having played the game and watched my son play for 4 years at LU I know that the true family is small and the ones that matter most are exclusive. That was a phenomenal display of playing and coaching. It's still difficult to comprehend the small crowd with such disinterested students. What matters most is the rest of the way and the memories that the 2010 team is creating for their lifetime. Congrats to Andy Dave, Donnie, Emo, Juicy, Dave K, Ed Ruiz and the seniors. The ones that appreciate what is happening on the mountain are the ones that matter most. Go hawks!

Anonymous said...

Always nice to beat a guy like Eachus after snubbing LU. Thankfully he chose to go there so we don't have to look at that face from week to week

van said...

was really surprised by the attendance #, looked like a pretty good crowd and seemed like a larger student section that past home games.

Would br curious to know what the student attendance #'s are like.

VAHawk said...

Great game by the Hawks! Watched it on the Net but would have preferred live (in VA). Should be no excuses by 'Gate for missing QB, WR. That's called poor depth of personnel. We've been there, done that, and still managed to win. Seems like TSN had it right all along. They already have us slotted into the first round of the playoffs against Liberty:
http://www.sportsnetwork.com/fcs/FCS_Bracket.pdf Time will tell. Need to win out first.

Anonymous said...

What a Great Win for our boys n staff so nice to see a Great Win at home !

Anonymous said...

No question "Coach C" has made the difference.

The "O-line" was incredible and deserves lot's of lovin. I don't remember a play all day that Lum had to scramble. Nice work!

The "D" under "coach K" remains a strength to be reckoned with.

Only dissapointment was not seeing the senior QB not get some snaps in his last home game.

stevied said...

It was a great win. I expected a close score and not a lop sided victory. I have been to every game this year, and this win was fantastic. I just wish there were at least 12,000 fans in the stadium. Where are the fans? At home watching on Service Electric?

Anonymous said...

Nice win yesterday, Colgate missing 2 players didn't make any difference. Colgate could not stop the passing game and Lehigh could have had sixty. Hawks do need to work on their run game for the playoffs. I can't understand the attendance being low. This was a big game and 4 years ago it drew 12,000. Only difference is new administration at LU. Yesterday, Penn leading the Ivy drew 15,000. One question, is Georgetown catching up to teams in the Patriot or are teams catching up with Georgetown.

ngineer said...

That was one of the most satisfying wins in a long time. The OL was fantastic in giving Lum plenty of time to find the open receiver and his, and Colvin's, execution was excellent. The feel one got watching this was "deja vu" of the ol' "Air Lehigh" days when the OC was catching the ball. Maybe, just maybe, everyone has found their comfort zone with the new approach and the 'second nature' of what is expected is now kicking in.
The Defense should also get a ton of kudos. They had great pressure, but also stopped Eachus from the 'big' runs.
Attendance, as said before, the culture and, I think, the increased hassle for students attending the game with the clamp down on tailgating, etc, is most to blame. No reason at least half the student body should not have been there. Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

By "senior QB", I think you mean Trace Cisneros. Wasn;t he redshirted one year, so that he has junior eligibility? If so, he is free to return next season if he continues graduate studies at Lehigh.

Anonymous said...

Lehigh does not red-shirt only medical

Sal said...

The few students that went to the game actually cheered. The lame fair weather locals need to get on board- and 53 and ngineer need to stop pointing the finger at ONLY the students. Get real boys, and bring the fans of the valley and stop complaining.Other than the parents section and the students around the band,you guys sat on your hands most of the afternoon.Our boys deserve the support of the community not just their peers.NO MORE EXCUSES LEHIGH VALLEY- Great win.........3 more!

Anonymous said...

long aaaaaaaaaaaa! Sal, Sally two shoes aaaaaaaaaaaaa! Sally dumb dumb is heeeee holy samoleans!!!