Saturday, December 04, 2010

Lehigh 20, Delaware 42, Final

(Photo Credit: Mark Campbell/Delaware Athletics)

So the first team to 21 points indeed was the team that ended up winning, as I predicted.

And Delaware - to their immense credit - put up 40 points on Lehigh's defense. (So much for my bold prediction that the Blue Hens wouldn't put up 40 on the Mountain Hawks.)

But heading down the tunnel off the field after the Lehigh football season came to a cold end in the FCS playoffs in Newark, Delaware, there were no hung helmets from the Lehigh players. Some disappointment, sure. But no tears. No humiliation, as a different type of swarm came around the Lehigh players - a group of Lehigh fans, who silently gave their support for a season that exceeded all fans' expectations.

Lehigh came out of the gates with some momentum and kept the game close early on - but Blue Hen QB Pat Devlin, who looked an awful lot like a first rounder in the NFL draft this afternoon, kept making play after play to shred Lehigh's defense. (more)

Friday, December 03, 2010

Friday Water Cooler: Fun And Loathing In Northeast Football

Admit it: if you're a Lehigh or Delaware fan, you are having serious fun this week.  The playoffs are always great - but of all the first round matchups, without question no other matchup evokes the animal spirits like the one happening in Newark, Delaware this weekend.  (I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Eastern Washington/Southeast Missouri State hasn't spawned hundreds of pages of smack, and dozens of print articles, on their matchup this weekend.)

For Lehigh, Delaware and Villanova, whose Northeast-based fans can enjoy a double-dip of playoff football (Lehigh/Delaware at noon on WFMZ 69, and Villanova/Stephen F.Austin at 3:30 on Philly CW 57 - honestly, are you going to pass that up to discover who wins the Big East?) it's the best of times.

But, it's also the one year anniversary of the "worst of times", too, for Northeast football - the announcement that Hofstra, joining Northeastern who had announced their decision a week prior, had suddenly decided to pull the plug on their football program. (more)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Game Preview: FCS Playoffs, Lehigh at Delaware, 12/4/2010: Breakdown And Fearless Prediction

(Photo Credit: William Bretzger/The Delaware News-Journal)

Yesterday, I broke down the "Blue Route Rivalry" in terms of the players' views on the game, and the long and storied rivalry that has been Lehigh and Delaware through the years.

But it's not going to be Tubby Raymond or John Whitehead on the sidelines this weekend - it's K.C. Keeler and Andy Coen on the sidelines for the Hens and Hawks this time, and the dynamic count not be more different.  Rather than smack, it's all about mutual respect and the "challenge" of playing Delaware.

In this Part 2 of the playoff preview, I'll start with an extended breakdown of the Blue Hens, and then end with my (patent pending) fearless prediction of the game this weekend. (more)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Game Preview: FCS Playoffs, Lehigh at Delaware, 12/4/2010: The Blue Route Rivalry

"I was at Delaware practice the other day,", a message board poster on Any Given Saturday said, "and asked a couple of the seniors how they felt about the one time rival.

"Both said the same thing, before my time."

This is absolutely true, by the way.  The last time the Blue Hens and Mountain Hawks played on the gridiron was 2005, so the players do have a point.  If they were Blue Hens at that time, that would have made them redshirt freshmen when a missed extra point in overtime doomed Lehigh to a 34-33 defeat.

The talk this week will be of the renewal of a regional rivalry that dates to 1938.  It will involve talk of talkative former Blue Hen head coach Tubby Raymond, whose games with Lehigh in the 1970s up until the 2000s have gone into "legendary" status.  There will be a lot of rejoicing that the FCS playoffs can - once again - rekindle a regional rivalry that ought to happen a lot more often than it actually does.

But for the kids on the field this weekend, there is none of that.  There is a national championship to win, and the Blue Hens and Mountain Hawks see each other as one thing: fodder on their way to the title. (more)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

LFN Players of the Week, Lehigh vs. Northern Iowa (and the 146th)

In the heat of the playoffs, I forgot to give "Players of the Week" for the 146th. Nobody probably cares, but I'll tag them after the LFN Players of the Week awards for round one of the playoffs. This weeks' awards go to:

Offense: Junior WR Jake Drwal (3 catches for 80 yards, 1 beautiful TD)
Defense: Senior FS John Venerio (2 tackles, 1 interception, 1 pass break-up, the best 15 yard pass interference call ever)
Special Teams: Senior PR Jarard "Main Man" Cribbs (8 tackles, 1 pass break-up, 12 yards in punt returns, 1 blocked FG try)
Underclassman: Sophomore WR Ryan Spadola (9 catches, 127 yards, 1 huge TD)

And for the 146th:

Offense: Senior TE Alex "Wojdo" Wojdowski (2 catches, 35 yards, 1 big TD)
Defense: Senior LB Al Pierce (15 tackles, 2 tackles for loss) and senior LB Mike Groome (16 tackles, 1 tackle for loss)
Special Teams: Senior LB Shane Ryan (1 tackle, 1 blocked punt recovered for TD)
Underclassman: Sophomore QB Michael Colvin (31 yards rushing, 2/3 passing for 7 yards)


Congratulations to all the winners!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Last Look: Lehigh vs. Northern Iowa, FCS Playoffs Round One

(Photo Credit: Matthew Putney / The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Times-Courier)

There are an awful lot of fantastic photos of the first round of the FCS playoffs at the UNI-Dome, thanks to the folks at the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Times-Courier.  I'd heavily suggest you head over there now to see a great, 28-photo layout of Lehigh's historic playoff win over Northern Iowa.

There are a lot of great photos to choose from, but I keep harkening back to that one play by senior FS John Venerio that continues to capture my imagination. The photo of that pass interference call - and, as you can see, a most correct call - seems to have been the huge play of the game, to me, and also makes for a nice visual of Lehigh's gutty, physical victory over the Panthers.

That, of course, is not the only article written - or broadcast - this weekend about Lehigh's victory. There's more. A whole lot more. (more)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday's Word: Gravy

Thanksgiving is a time of family and reflection for most people.  It's also a time for lots and lots of football: of the NFL sort, of course, but also many high-school rivalries, particularly in the Northeast, take place on Thanksgiving day.  (One of those, Easton/Phillipsburg, is in our neck of the woods and have faced off against each other 104 times.)

For Lehigh football fans - who also spent this weekend enjoying their first postseason football victory since a home victory over Hofstra in 2001 - it was a time to do something on Thanksgiving that they haven't had to do in a long time - that is, enjoy their football season that is still in progress, and subsequently look forward to surviving another week in the playoffs.

Lehigh's got the Patriot League Championship. They got the ticket to the playoffs.  They already shocked the world. What enjoyable surprises are left? Maybe some "gravy"? (more)
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